The Nutshell

Creative. Artistic. Introverted. Philosophical. Wellness-oriented. Politically Concerned. Socially Aware.

I’ve had a strange life, in many respects. This website is somewhat reflective of that.

On one hand, I am just your everyday, hardworking professional designer and illustrator. I was drawing from the time I was a little boy, and all I’ve wanted to do with my life is to make a honest living off of my creativity. Though my earliest dreams were to become a Disney animator, I’m grateful to have made a career in design & marketing for the past 20+ years.

On the other hand, my mind is captivated by issues of humanity.  In the course of my life, I’ve moved across the spectrum of social, political and spiritual perspectives. I was raised very conservatively with religious undertones. Through family influence and depression, I unknowingly joined a fundamentalist Christian church as a 21 year old and became a serving associate pastor shortly thereafter. At 35 years old, I had the shocking realization I was participating in a cult. Over the last several years, I’ve experienced the full-scale reframing of what it means to be human. Everything in my worldview is freshly changing.

In a world that is being fragmented by social issues and political strife – I feel I am in unique position.

In 2013, I walked out of hyper-religious fundamentalism with the awareness I had been “duped”, and had inadvertently surrendered my mind to tribal group-think. Today, all around us, we feel the relentless pressure to subscribe to a side in the mounting societal polarity. The advantage I feel I have is that – I’ve had a pretty intense experience with group-think. I’m not interested in false-narratives and social pressure.

So in the strangest of ways, this website is very much intended to be a display of me, being me. Creative and artistic. Yet awake and insightful. I hope I can share a few things I’m seeing and thinking – and if possible, share a little bit of positivity though it all.

PROFESSIONAL CAREER

While still in college, my first professional gig was illustrating a children’s book. Over 20 years later, I’ve enjoyed working for and with a handful of small and medium size marketing and technology firms in the Edmonton, Alberta market. I am a senior level, highly experienced brand designer, web developer, illustrator and creative strategist.

My skills include: brand design & development, web design, social marketing, videography, photography, animation, illustration, creative writing and marketing strategy.

After several years, I sought to have more autonomy over my career, and collaborated in a business startup called Tractor Beam Marketing.  Now 10 years later, I continue to operate “The Tractor Beam” as the owner, and serve as a designer, contractor and consultant to many businesses in our community.

FUTURE AMBITION: ART & STORYTELLING

For a creative soul like I am, the marketing business is not always a soul-enriching experience. I got into commercial design because the term “starving artist” worried both my and my parents. Graphic design afforded me the chance to make a living while still exercising my artistic talents. Still, I allowed my love of “art” to fade through the years of attending to clients and meeting endless deadlines.

A few years ago, I invested in a digital drawing tablet. My intention was to have convenient access to drawing tools at my desk. I casually resumed drawing and painting via my digital tools. It restored something in me that was missing. I’m enjoying, and trying to find pockets of time and motivation. Recently, I began accepting commissions – and that was a big reason why I created this website. It’s a vehicle to share and promote this side of me that I would like to nourish and grow.

Don’t tell anyone, but my aim is use my creative writing and illustration talents, and experience the joy of storytelling (books, animations, etc).

PERSONAL BACKGROUND

I have a deeply complicated backstory, which I hope to share a little on my blog. Raised in a very religious environment through my early childhood, the trajectory of life took an unusual direction when I made a fateful, unknowing decision to join a cult-like sect at 21 years old. To say my life was immensely impacted would be an understatement.  That said – it would be a tragedy to allow that to be my whole story.  Within my journey, I’ve enjoyed many moments of joy and friendship.  I have experienced the joy of volunteerism as a teenager, the challenge and passion of athletics throughout my life, the thrill of adventure in nature and travel. I’ve learned a whole lot about the resilience of the human spirit – both through the experience of pastoring and counselling, and also in the journey through incredible change.

In 2005, I married a girl who would become my best friend, and together we have two beautiful children who bring joy and energy to our home. Our journey over recent years has opened the door to new opportunities. Our church held traditional values that strongly encouraged women to stay home and hold no career ambitions. Today, she is free to pursue her passions – and seeing her risk to build her own business (NaomiRozak – Reiki & InsideOWT) is a great reward.

I no longer consider myself religious, though my interest in the human-experience – in every sense (social, physiological, emotional, spiritual, historical, political, etc) – has only compounded. Hence, I find myself immersed in the issues that engulf our society today.

MORNING MERCY: HELPING HEAL

As a former pastor in a fundamentalist, ultra-conservative church – I am very familiar with how hard it is to ‘walk-away’ when an individual develops legitimate concerns. I have been a voice of support for members of my former religious community, offering perspectives and supportive content that informs and encourages them towards the issues they face.  Interestingly, there is a common thread between all groups which practice forms of ‘undue influence’ to control behavior and group-think. Over the years, I have received hundreds of messages offering gratefulness or stories of shared experience, even if they were not members of our particular sect.

I do not write often with Morning Mercy now, as it took an emotional toll. But it’s something I proudly maintain.