What a fun and interesting adventure it has been these past three years. Let's back paddle a bit to see where it all began, shall we? So, my real name isn't actually Dabito. It's David. When I was in college, I had this sweet Japanese friend who called me Dabito (pronounced day-bee-toh) and it just stuck. I went to the University of California Santa Cruz and majored in Fine Arts, with a focus in printmaking. It's funny because I had no idea printmaking even existed prior to Santa Cruz. I initially applied as a chemistry major. My family pressured me into it. I seriously can't imagine me in a lab creating some sort of chemical concoction, unless maybe if it has to do with ice cream. It was a total 180. I was certain chemistry was not the path I wanted for myself. That's the great thing about college. It's all about exploring your curiosities. Realizing what you gravitate towards and what you don't like. Art just made me tick.
After graduating in 2005, I moved back home to Los Angeles. I did a short internship at a litho printing company where we printed for now big time artists like Chris Johanson and Shepard Fairey. After that ended, I couldn't find anything that was printmaking related. I tried searching for maybe even photography work since I also studied it, but no luck. It was terrifying. Was my family right? What the fuck do I do with printmaking? I worked at Urban Outfitters for a few months just to have some income. I toyed with the idea of going back to school to get my masters in graphic design, but I didn't want to rack up more debt. I was always interested in graphic design so I took the cheap route and enrolled in a community college and took all the graphic design courses after work. Community colleges are affordable with great facilities and faculties. During the day, I was working full time at a boring export/import company doing mundane admin work. I was living at home, too. I did that for two years and was fed up with it. It was time to apply my new found design knowledge. But I was insecure about my design work only because I didn't graduate with a degree in graphic design from a reputable school like Arts Center. I applied to all sorts of companies, architecture firms, too, who needed in-house graphic designers or photoshop wizards but I was getting turned down left and right.
One miraculous day though, in 2008 I went to a gallery opening in LA where one of my printmaking professors from UCSC was having a show. I mingled a bit and connected with someone there where she recommended me to intern for April Greiman at Made In Space. April is the founding mother of using Macs in graphic design. I applied that spring and got in. The internship was full time for three months with very little pay, like enough to just buy lunch every day. But I knew my time there would be valuable so I had to suck it up. Living at home helps. After three months, the internship blossomed into a more permanent position. I was mostly a studio assistant, handling all the day to day flow of the studio, emails, phones, sending out presskits, with occasional design work, and making the meanest espressos. The pay still wasn't that great but it was enough. I really loved it there and April was awesome and I learned so much.
After almost a year at Made in Space, I knew it was time to explore elsewhere. And boy did I take that exploration to a whole new altitude because I applied to be a flight attendant for Cathay Pacific Airways which is an international airline based in Hong Kong. I had a friend doing it and he was jet setting around the world and raved about how flexible and fun it was. I have always loved Hong Kong. I did my study abroad program there in my senior year in college so it felt like a third home to me. I half-jokingly applied and was surprised I got the gig. I trained intensely in Hong Kong for two months and was flying back and forth for almost two years. I was based in Los Angeles but I was living half my time there. It was great. I learned how to work with so many different people with different and difficult personalities coming from different cultures. It was a valuable skill to have. The flights were brutally long and demanding but in between flights, I had lots of time off. This is when my thrifty obsession began.
Timmy (my heartmate at the time) and I moved in together in a downtown loft in LA in 2009. I started to decorate our place which I've always dreamt of since I was a kid. A quick story about my childhood. I never had my own room growing up. I lived in a 3-bedroom house with my family of three generations all under one roof. We were packed like raccoons! Pretty ghetto. I slept in the living room til I graduated from high school. I had no privacy. I hated it. I still remember vividly every night before I went to bed, I would flip through all the IKEA catalogs like it was the bible and dreamt that one day I'll get to have my own place to decorate. It was the root to my fascination with interior decorating. Fast forward 12 years or so, I was finally on my own. I lived in an awesome loft with brick walls and I got to do whatever I wanted with it. I thrifted everyday and found the best deals and that's when I decided to blog. I was inspired by Apartment Therapy, Design Sponge and The Brick House. I was already on tumblr and was posting personal works like photography, prints and illustrations as a creative outlet. When it was time to graduate to something bigger, blogger was perfect way to go. I began documenting my thrifty gems, how to decorate on a budget, and giving new life to something old which is how I came up with Old Brand New. It took some time to find my voice and style. No one read my blog for months and I was kinda okay with it. I was blogging for myself. It wasn't until I did a holiday DIY sputnik mobile. That's when it jumped on a few blog's radar and subsequently Old Brand New took off.
As the blog grew more readers towards the end of 2010, I took blogging more seriously. I quit flying and wanted to focus on being creative again. I knew the blog was gonna play a role in finding me something awesome. Then, I opened an online shop selling my prints and vintage stuff. Around February of 2011, Justina Blakeney invited me to her LA creative potluck. I was a bit hesitant to go because I've never met any bloggers in person before. Thank god I went because all the lovely ladies (Jennifer Young, Satsuki Shibuya, Victoria Vu, and Jessica Comingore) I met then and there are still my homies now. And it's been so awesome watching everyone evolve and doing outstanding work. A month later after that meeting, I saw a tweet from Justina where she was looking for a graphic designer for Woolly Pocket. She was their creative director so I was like, sure! I responded immediately. I went in for an interview the next day and got the job. We were the perfect team but she moved on to other rad stuff like having baby Ida Sky! I'm still at Woolly Pocket and doing all their branding, websites, packaging, and photography, too, and I get to work from home so I can't complain!
It's crazy to think that I got this gig from a lil tweet from twitter through Justina who I met from blogging. So, you just never know. Blogging is seriously one of the best things I've ever done. It's a great platform to explore your own creativity and see what people respond to. You just gotta believe in yourself because if you don't, who will? If you're unhappy with your current situation, do something about it. Shake it up. It really doesn't matter where you come from or where you went. If you have ideas and passion then you'll go far. Put yourself and your work out there and let it be judged. Don't be cynical because that doesn't get you anywhere. Get out of your comfort zone and reach out to new, cool people. Say yes to things. And learn when to say no. Work hard. Be proud of your work. Own up to your work even if it sucked. Be super flexible. See what works and what doesn't and then change it. Take some risks because you'll never know where it'll take you. It's always a learning experience. Relax. Be nice. Be genuine. And make an effort to keep in touch with your good friends and weed out the shady ones. Stay humble. You're a rockstar. Hustle.
Oh my, what a long-winded story. Thank you for taking the time to hop on over to Old Brand New for your daily dose of inspiration. It truly means a lot to me. I wish I had a million bucks so I can throw a huge party and fly you all there. Seriously, you guys are the best. If you guys have any questions or feedback, feel free to comment and I will answer every one of them!
Here's a best of Old Brand New throughout the years. Enjoy!