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Meet Jon Laser

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jon Laser.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
“The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something and that any moment now they will discover you. It’s imposter syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.” -Neil Gaiman

Throughout my design career, I have struggled with “Imposter Syndrome.” When I first started as a designer, I had no idea what I was doing. My first job was designing planograms for hotel marketspaces– an unglamorous job that should have been titled a project management position. I learned a very valuable lesson there- I wanted to be a graphic artist and wouldn’t settle for anything else.

With the encouragement of my wife, who believed in me before I did, I left that job to branch out as a freelance graphic designer. To my amazement, I started getting clients! I started on a tiny laptop, bought my first Wacom drawing tablet and got to work. What started out as one or two clients grew into a large and ever-growing client base, and Jonny Laser Designs LLC was born. When I got a request I wasn’t sure how to tackle, I would research it until I found the solution. Slowly but surely, I started to build up my confidence as a designer. Even though I loved designing for clients (and still do), I was missing something… creative collaboration with other artists.

Once I put my resume out into the world, I was quickly noticed by a company called Curational. The mission of this little startup was to build a hand full of different subscription box companies from the ground up. Curational needed their first graphic designer and I was the perfect fit. As a solo designer, I got to wear several hats. It was my role to develop all elements of the brands, including logos, website design, product development, packaging design, marketing materials– you name it. I was most fearful of the “Fraud Police” when I started with Curational. As the only designer, I was expected to be the subject matter expert on all things art. I had no idea how to design products, or what the best UX practices were, but I learned as I went.

Curational has tripled in size, and nearly five years later, I am now the Lead Designer and Art Director for a thriving, insanely talented, and highly creative design team. I built a team of designers with different backgrounds and varying experiences, and I feel lucky to be able to collaborate with and grow my own skills alongside these artists. We share knowledge and feedback, and help inspire each other to perform at a high level despite tight deadlines and a heavy workload. I love my position at Curational and the people I work with are fantastic, but I know that my story is in its early chapters. I’m excited to see where my career will take me, and am looking forward to the new things I will learn and the people I will meet along the way.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road to becoming an artist is hardly ever a smooth one. We’re told from a young age that we should be doctors, lawyers, teachers or nurses and that in order to do so, we must excel in our classes and go on to college. This was not in the cards for me, and not for a lack of effort on my part– Despite my determination, I failed math classes routinely. However, I found my calling in art class. From a young age, I excelled in creative mediums–everything from drawing and painting to sculpting, animation and design. I wanted to create with anything I could get my hands on.

Despite my accomplishments in the creative realm, I always carried a nagging sense of failure, having never achieved the traditional four-year education. I thought of myself as a broken person, undeserving of a “real” art job. Because “real art jobs” require candidates well-rounded in all areas of academia, I thought I would be destined for an unfulfilling career path.

Years later, I would realize that I was a square peg stuck in a system of round holes. Most artists are.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Curational, Geek Fuel, Curiosity Box, The Walking Dead Supply Drop, Brave Wilderness Adventure Kit story. Tell us more about the business.
Curational (a play on the word Curate) is a turn-key solution for subscriptions box programs serving high-impact influencers. Our current list of companies includes Geek Fuel, Curiosity Box, The Walking Dead Supply Drop, and Brave Wilderness Adventure Kit.

Our first mission in 2014 was to launch Geek Fuel, a monthly mystery box of pop culture goodies delivered to customers across the globe (think ComicCon in a box). Geek Fuel boxes include t-shirts and apparel, collectible figures, household items, prop replicas and more. Most products are designed in-house by myself and the design team. We create fully licensed products with companies such as Marvel and FOX.

Soon after launching Geek Fuel, we partnered with a popular YouTube channel called Vsauce to build a science subscription box called The Curiosity Box. Creators of Vsauce Micheal Stevens, Kevin Lieber and Jake Roper are at the creative helm of the curiosity box. Micheal, Kevin and Jake will help conceptualize products and we will design, package, and market and ship them. We design and create science kits, brain teasing puzzles, desktop physics toys, even a quarterly magazine. Although science was never my best subject, I am most proud of my creative time spent developing The Curiosity Box branding, products, packaging and more. I created the company mascot, an inquisitive octopus named “Inq.” The curious little octopus has become a beloved character and is now as much a part of The Curiosity Box as the actual Vsauce team.

Coyote Peterson, star of the hit YouTube channel Brave Wilderness came to us wanting to create a way for his followers to officially become a part of the coyote pack. The Brave Wilderness Adventure Kit was born. This quarterly box includes original toy figurines, trading cards, posters, field journals and apparel, all featuring different animals. With the guidance of Coyote and the Brave Wilderness team, we design all original products for this box.

Curational’s track record of success led us to a partnership with AMC’s The Walking Dead. We took over the design and curation of The Walking Dead Supply Drop box about a year ago. Like the other box brands, we do it all. Product design including t-shirts and apparel, collectible toys and figurines, custom household items, prop replicas and more–all under the TWD license.

Do you feel like our city is a good place for businesses like yours? If someone was just starting out, would you recommend them starting out here? If not, what can our city do to improve?
Denver is a great place to get a startup off the ground because people are flocking here from all over. Denver now boasts a diverse population from all different backgrounds, each bringing a new perspective to the table. This city has made it a point to value its artists and this is apparent as you walk past the many murals on the streets of Denver.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Jason Melino

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