That time GFDA Traveled the USA

Good Fucking Design Advice

Filed Under: Article Event Inspiration

Traveled the country recently?

Neither have we. But we did—way back when times were simpler in 2013. So, armed with the appropriate amount of time to reflect (two years sound about right), we wanted to share a bit about the experience and some of the insights gleaned along the way.

How do you go about traveling around the country one might ask? Well, it’s a delicate balance of very particular planning in some respects (we need a vehicle), and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants not-planning in others (let’s buy one on eBay).

It’s with this sort of obsessive irreverence that we solve most of our projects and problems, so it was not entirely unfamiliar territory.

As we sat down to plan, (with the key issue of transportation out of the way), we knew we had to get to work on the important matters standing between us and the alluring road warrior lifestyle: finish graduate school, repair said van, chart a loose course around the USA, email almost every AIGA chapter in the country, book two-dozen or more speaking gigs, wrap up our client work, buy a cooler, go to Indonesia, and—oh yeah, hire that awesome camera gal Danielle Miller to document our trip. (Check out all the sweet videos she made for us at the bottom of this article!)

With a lot of panic and a decent bit of work, each of those items managed to get crossed off our list. So, on August 28th, 2013, GFDA +1 set out west from Cleveland (ill-prepared at best) on a 53-day tour across, around, under, and over the country in a 1972 Dodge B300 Sportsman Van. At the time we couldn’t really admit it, but we honestly didn’t know exactly what we were looking for or why we were going. We only knew that we had to go, and hoped for the answers to come.

Along the ride we met plenty of awesome folks and—of course, a few assholes too.

Along the ride we met plenty of awesome folks and—of course, a few assholes too. We slept in hotels, haunted inns, people’s houses, on large luxurious pillow-top beds and in tiny uncomfortable cots, on floors and couches, in attics, and god knows how many other awkward horizontal surfaces. We gave our presentation 25 times, ate more than our fair share of greasy burgers, and (due to the kindness of our patrons at all stops) nearly became alcoholics. Our favorite experiences though, were the times spent after our talks chatting into early mornings with creatives of all types. From students to well-known design heroes, most carving their own path and hitting plenty of set-backs and challenges along the way, and most, just like us, were soldiering on without having a clear view of the finish line.

But this is the spirit of being a creative, and ultimately it’s the spirit of our tour. When we do original work and create something from nothing—rather than just regurgitating bullshit trends and other people’s ideas—we really don’t know what the end will look like, sound like, feel like, taste like, and what the experience of getting there is going to be like. We certainly don't know how other people will respond to the work and really, we don't even know if we will like it. Surely engaging in such endeavors is for fucking crazy people. 

But we can't help it—we are crazy people, and if we are to be creative pioneers, and we are going cross the desert into the unknown, we can’t try to predict what the end result will be. It’s counter to the integrity of the process. We have to just go and entertain all the possibilities that are to come—especially the ones that are unexpected. The process will unfold as a result, and the result will be something new and refreshing. The answer will reveal itself. 

And when we go out to cross that desert, it’s best to not do it alone. It’s best to share in the company of other like-minded crazy people. 

Much thanks to Danielle Miller of Rabid Filmmaking for such great videos and memories.

11,000 miles, 53 days, 38 cities, 25 events, and 3 rainstorms later we're finally home and able to share a retrospective of our incredible trip around the United States.

Week 1
Follow Brian and Jason on the first GFDA across the United States. Heading westward from their headquarters in Ohio, they aim to inspire creatives in as many major cities as possible. The 52-day tour started on August 26, 2013 and will conclude on October 17.

Week 2
Learn all about the iconic GFDA corporate wheels, our fuel efficient, Dodge B300 Sportsman, 1-ton Van.

Week 3
Brian and Jason took a few days during their tour to visit their biggest fan, Carla Torres. Learn about Carla and check out some of the highlights from their visit.

Week 4
GFDA sponsored and participated in James Victore's 'Take This Job and Love It' symposium during their stop in New York City. Exhausted from travel and speaking, they attended the after party and shared Pledge Prints with all of the attendees.

Week 5
As their time on the road comes to a close, the Brian and Jason reflect on their experience and the journey so far.

Week 6
A huge thank you to all the great fucking people who contributed to our adventure. To all the incredibly talented people we met along the way. And to all of those who hosted us along our trip.

Thanks to all the great fucking people who contributed to our adventure. Tag along: @GoodDsgnAdvice #GFDAUSA, #oleGFDA, #vantastic