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About Whitewall Designs


I've operated continually as a professional freelance artist since 1997 while working simultaneously for a number of years as a studio designer for companies like MacQuarium and nFront (later Digital Insight - now Intuit). I've been operating Whitewall Designs full time since 2005. Between my freelance work and my studio work with these companies I've designed over 500 websites and scores of other graphics for small businesses, local charities, entrepeneurs and national and international companies, goverment agencies and schools like:

Whitewall Designs:
  Land Rover
  Delta Airlines
  Home Depot
  Snapper Lawnmowers
  Heilig Meyers Furniture
  The Georgia Nurses Association
  The EPA
  University of Georgia
  Emory University
  University of South Alabama
  The New Jersey Devils
  Crown Plaza & Holiday Inn
  George Strait
nFront / Digital Insight:
  Johns Hopkins
  The Library of Congress
  New York Community Bank
  United States Postal Service

My print designs have appeared in Cosmopolitan, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Men's Health, Chicago Magazine, Entrepreneur and numerous national and trade publications. I designed an online dating website that grew to nationwide franchises and as featured on FOX News, CNN and The Oprah Winfrey Show and I've had the opportunity to meet and work with hundred of amazing people from rock bands and corporate leaders to grass roots volunteers and first time business owners.


I've been designing for-hire for over twenty years, starting back in high-school when I painted signs, murals and designed logos for local businesses and sports event banners, etc for area schools. This continued through college as I studied art at the University of Georgia, majoring in traditional painting and sculpture. My first two years were spent building a portfolio that would be the required submission for selection to UGA's Lamar Dodd School of Art graphic design program where I planned to spend my final two years of study. In 1994, two weeks before portfolio submission a twist of fate destroyed my entire portfolio which left me with nothing to show for two years of core art classes but a lump or wet paper and canvas. I was living off a scholarship, a loan and two jobs and couldn't afford to repeat two years of school so I needed a solution to save my educational investment. There were no options made available to me so I set out to make one of my own.

This was the early 90's; the internet as we know it wasn't yet around and the graphic design world was just shifting its eye towards digital. I had never even turned a computer on but a friend told me about a computer at the art building library that had drawing software on it (Photoshop 1.0). I figured since I was starting from scratch I may as well be ahead of the curve than behind it. A sympathetic professor gave me a key to the library and I spent the next few months sneaking in at night and teaching myself to use it. Despite having no knowledge of computers, I discovered that a computer could be wielded as a design tool just like a paint brush or a pencil or a welding torch. There was no digital art degree program at the University then so I found three professors willing to back me and wrote my own degree. The University approved it and I spent the next three years pulling classes and self-directive courses from all over the University learning digital art, photo manipulation, two and three-dimensional design and animation and digital video compositing, ultimately becoming the first student to graduate from the University of Georgia with a self-written degree.

Having this set of skills back then opened many doors for me. While still in school my ability to create computer graphics and animations put me in contact with Snapper Lawnmowers in 1997 when I was hired to design the graphics for their first corporate website and an animation that was one of the very first animations ever to be on the web. This led to me being hired to redesign their Turtle mascot later that year along with a series of shirts, stickers, promotional materials, etc. As a green and unknown college student, I was very fortunate to list an international company like Snapper on my resume. This experience scored me a job with a special effects company in Atlanta called MacQuarium to be a digital effects artist. Around that time Macquarium was bringing website design into it's list of services and my experience with the Snapper site landed me on that team where I learned how to code the websites I was designing as well as continuing to do special effects work.

I was invited to speak at a UGA career day back in my college town of Athens, Georgia, where I showed my portfolio and talked to students about creating my own degree and working as a digital artist, still a relatively new idea back then. A representative for an internet start-up called nFront was speaking there that day and offered me a position as am animator and designer for their web team. Eager to move back to Athens but really enjoying the people I worked with at MacQuarium, I reluctantly left MacQ and joined nFront (later Digital Insight and finally Intuit) where I created corporate identity sites, animations, banner graphics, etc for the banking and credit union industry. My designs in that field number in the hundreds with several receiving regional and national design awards. I had been operating Whitewall Designs as a side project for a number of years and as demand for my freelance designs increased, I left Digital Insight to operate Whitewall Designs full time, which is the penultimate experience of my professional career. I get to work with a huge variety of projects and clients and can pass on the projects that don't interest me. Owning my own business is hard and I go to work earlier and stay later than in any job I've had before, but I'm very happy where I'm at. That seemingly awful twist of fate that destroyed my portfolio in college was in retrospect the greatest thing that ever happened to my career. The moral I hope to convey here is to never give up and to keep moving, even if it's not in the direction you originally planned. It's better to go somewhere than nowhere and you might find that where you end up is a lot better than where you started.

Thank you for reading my story. You can check out some of the work mentioned here as well as other projects in the links above. If you have a project that needs a new look or are ready to take your company's image to the next level, call or email me today for a free quote. Thanks again for taking a look! - Christopher Michaels

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