MICA was about as far away from his hometown of San Francisco as he could get, but PJ Richardson ’00 (Graphic Design B.F.A.) looked forward to studying in a new environment. He chose the school over the others he was considering: RISD, Pratt, SAIC, and SVA. After enrolling in MICA, Richardson was impressed with the problem-solving philosophy of its design program. It taught him to create solutions to design problems that could be translated across various media, which is precisely what the design firm he eventually founded, Laundry, does today. He recalls faculty members he studied with, Ellen Lupton and Abbott Miller, in particular, set the tone that the possibilities were endless in terms of what could be accomplished for clients. Internships and guest lecturers helped him balance his need to express himself creatively with the people-pleasing demands of the industry. Learning from working designers helped him understand what his career could really be like once he graduated.
About five years after graduating, he took the plunge, with a partner, into self-employment so that he could pursue projects he has a passionate interest in. With 20 employees, who work with more than two dozen freelancers, his firm, Laundry, is nimble enough to navigate interactive projects larger studios cannot keep up with. The firm takes on everything from television commercials to film titles to music videos to live action and animation. Clients include MTV, Nike, Coca-Cola, eBay, Vevo, The Black Eyed Peas and Rolling Stones music groups, and a host of others. The physical environment mirrors the company’s culture and philosophy: open, collaborative, and creative.
At MICA, Richardson says, the critique process prepared him to be able to sell his ideas and vision to clients. According to Richardson, the ability to sell ideas was critical to his success.
If he was giving advice to MICA students, he would encourage them to do a wide variety of internships like he did. Above all, he would encourage them not to be afraid to try new things. That’s exactly what Laundry is pursuing, raising the bar technically and visually. Ultimately, however, the team at Laundry will always seek to create a memorable experience through storytelling.