Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeremy Endo.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I don’t know if I’ve finished “starting,” but I went to Skidmore College, a liberal arts school in Upstate New York, where I tried to acquire as many art/craft making techniques as possible. I went to Tufts University for my MFA immediately after undergrad- which definitely had its fair share of positives and negatives! While studying under the artists, Jennifer Schmidt and Maria Magdalena Campos Pons, Western Philosophy became the tool with which I could excavate my bizarre cultural upbringing into personal yet relatable nuggets of inspiration. Almost three years have gone by and I feel as if that process was crucial for me to figure out how to have more confidence in my work out of the academic sphere and into the fine art/ craft world.
Today I work as a UX designer, leading and supporting slews of interesting projects. I collaborate with product teams to develop sturdy backbones of human centered design and research. It took a solid year for me to pivot my art-research skills towards the UX field. During that time, I was teaching at Tufts University and Montserrat College of Art, while working at Artful Edge Framing in Allston, learning the ins and outs of custom framing.
All the different skills I have acquired thus far give me the confidence to maintain an art practice no matter what life throws my way. The depth to which I want to go down that rabbit hole is not far though. I have many friends who live month to month with no insurance, no paycheck, and no security as they hop from residency to residency or work crazy side jobs just to support their practice. I respect them a lot for what they do for their art but after hearing a lot of their stories, I realized that wasn’t the long term vision I had for my life.
The design and corporate creative worlds give you a lot of stability and (sometimes) income to support yourself so long as you’re okay doing the nine-to-five grind for the big companies. I guess I’m an artist who just likes to have deep roots.
Has it been a smooth road?
While I was in school, I had the luxury to struggle with who I was and what I was about. Those big questions drove me to work as hard as I could while in school. After being in academia for a few years now, I teach the best when I can sense my students are also trying to address those questions head-on, without looking away.
The most recent challenge I’ve had to overcome was getting my foot through the UX doorway. The User Experience field is ripe for artists who love to think critically and chew on difficult questions. I had a lot of first round interviews but nothing beyond that for a while. A lot of people were looking to fill senior positions. From my job search in Boston, I deduced this to mean, companies want people who magically know how to seamlessly enter a new work flow and can lead design sprints with minimal time spent on-boarding. As an artist, having an MFA roughly translates to having a degree in exactly that. We are constantly researching, learning new skills as quickly as possible, and implementing those things as quickly as possible. The reason I got my foot in the door was because my portfolio and diverse experience were finally enough for a lead UX designer to take a chance on me (Thank you!).
Now the real challenges are just beginning. I go into my job and my studio every day thinking about how hard I worked to get to this point. I owe it to myself and to those who inspire me to keep schlepping down this path. Recently, I’ve been approached by startups and galleries to create or manage projects. I haven’t had to reject any opportunities yet. It’s a terrifying and exciting feeling. A dear old professor used to tell me in a mid-western accent, “When it rains it pours!”
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Right now my business has two main art and design branches: Jeremy Endo Art acts as the stem or over-arching brand name. Most of my artwork functions best in gallery spaces that provide a space for me to heavily consider the audience (in an expanded field). My design portfolio builds at an equal pace. It is filled with projects for friends, companies, and universities. The confidence which I mentioned earlier relates specifically to how my art practice has roots in art, craft, and design. While I may not churn out a series of tapestries for a solo show any time soon (though I am open to it), I put just as much energy and attention into designing a whole UX report for a business on how to make their products more accessible to their users. I don’t think any of this sets me apart from my peers or colleagues because there is no standard model for how to develop a career in the art world.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
There is a lot of wonderful, inspiring, shocking innovation going on around this cluster of academic institutions. If you’re not afraid to stick your neck out from Tufts’ bubble and wave to the engineering major at MIT, you can start some amazing things in a very small window of time. That window is important because the Boston-Cambridge area is very transient. Most people you’ll meet here (tentatively) plan to stick around for four to ten years and then move onto the next thing- but I promise you, the bonds you forge here between friends and colleagues will transcend city limits.