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Resourceful Designer podcast: Offering tips, tricks and advice for starting and growing your graphic or web design business.

Hi, I'm Mark Des Cotes

I'm a Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Podcaster, Husband, Father, Dog & Cat Owner, Business Man, Entrepreneur, TV lover and geek.
(not particularly in that order)

Year I Entered The Design Space

Years I Started Web Designing

Year I Started My Home-Based Business

This is My Story

If you've been wondering “Who is this guy?” you've come to the right place. Grab yourself a snack and a drink and enjoy my tale.

My story begins in 1988 in my hometown of Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. I had just graduated from grade 13 (they had grade 13 back then) but unlike most of my peers, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Classmates in a similar situation were enrolling in college or university general program while they contemplated their lives. My parents were unable to help me financially and since I didn't want to waste my savings on a general post-secondary program I found myself with two choices. Get full-time job until I decided on an educational path or go back to high school for yet another year. I knew that if I took the year off to work, the chances of me going back to school were slim. I chose the latter path and went back to high school, graduating yet again in 1989. During that extra year, I focused on finding a career path I would like. With the help of my guidance counselor, I decided that advertising was something I would like to do. I was particularly interested in creating television commercials. I chose a school in the Toronto area that offered a suitable program, looked at the cost of tuition and board, and hung my head in defeat. It would take me another year or more at my part-time job to save the money I needed.

The weird thing is, during my 1988 graduation I had won a couple of scholarships to the local college. In 1989 I won a couple more and they were all still good. My guidance counselor suggested I try one year of the graphic design program while working part-time saving for university. He said the things I would learn in graphic design could be useful in creating television commercials. Since the scholarships from both my graduations covered more than 1 semester's tuition, I decided why not.

Off to college

In September 1989 I started the graphic design program at St. Lawrence College and never looked back. I fell in love with the program, completed the full three years with honours and graduated top of my class. The printing company I worked for during my field placement hired me as a junior graphic designer after graduation. I rose through the ranks during the 15 years I worked there achieving the title of art director/systems manager. Back in 1996, I started dabbling with web design. I created a website for the printing company and then for a few of the printing clients. Web design wasn't encouraged at the print shop as it didn't keep the presses running so I started working on websites from home. In 2005 I stared my own web design company to make it official. I couldn't do graphic design as it was a conflict of interest with my day job but more and more of my web clients were asking for print related design. In 2006 I left the printing company to concentrate on my own business and expanded to offer graphic design as well. I've been on my own ever since and loving every minute of it. I work out of a beautiful home office with my two dogs and one cat keeping me company during the day until my family gets home.

The twist that got me here

There's one twist to this story I always find amusing. During my 3rd year of college, my classmates were reminiscing about their entrance interview into the program. This confused me so I asked them what they were talking about. “You know”, they said, “the portfolio review and the drawing tests we all took before acceptance into the program.” I had no idea what they were talking about. I never had a portfolio review or any drawing test. If fact, I had never taken an art class in high school. Before taking the design program I didn't have anything to put in a portfolio. All I had done was apply for the program, receive an acceptance letter and showed up on the first day. I asked the dean of the graphics department why I never had an entrance interview.  He told me that since I had graduated from high school in 1988 and entered college in 1989, I was a “mature student” and the interview didn't apply to me. They reserved it for those coming out of high school thinking graphics to be an easy course. If I had applied in 1988 they would have refused me because I didn't have a portfolio nor an art background. My decision to go back to high school for an extra year allowed me bypass the process and led me to the career I'm in today.

Today I continue to design for both web and print. I'm also a podcaster and have a few TV show fan podcasts at another site I run solotalkmedia.com. I decided to create Resourceful Designer to give back some of the knowledge I've gained over the years as well as to learn from you.