My name is Paul Panfalone. I am an artist and designer originally from East Aurora, New York, a small suburb just outside the hard luck city of Buffalo. I currently reside in Southern California.
I was fortunate to have grown up in the raddest decade to be a kid: the 1980′s. The pop culture of the day heavily influenced me early on; cartoons, comic books, movies, music, video games, late-night television…you name it, they all played their part in shaping who I am today. Front to back, the whole decade was thick with spectacular design and illustrations. From lightning and laser adorned album covers to painted toy packaging and wicked skateboard decks. There really hasn’t been anything like it since. It was the perfect incubator for a young kid’s imagination.
I began drawing when I was just a few years old and was constantly being scolded for doodling during class in elementary school. Hand-written messages on report cards often warned my parents about my misbegotten ways. I was too busy drawing in my notebooks to take notes in them. A pair of teachers even made a point of telling me that drawing would get me nowhere in life. A lot of good that did them, it simply strengthened my resolve. Thankfully, my family was always supportive of my artistic interests and allowed me to develop uninhibited, no matter what my teachers had to say about it.
My brother was also artistically gifted, and my grandparents put together a studio for us in the basement of their home. In the summer months during high school, we stayed with them on weekends and spent countless hours creating complete comic books from rough pencils to finished color, all entirely by hand. We developed our own universe of characters and often competed to outdo each other with each new drawing we made. Those were truly the best of times.
Creating simply for the love of it.
Immediately after high school I bounced around from job to job for a bit. I worked with my father and grandfather as a plasterer, the family trade since my great grandfather traveled to America from Sicily. A disciplined art form in itself, I learned about the importance of precision and the value of hard work. I also tended bar at a family restaurant in my home town where I picked up some critical social skills which, up until that point, I had been severely lacking. For example, the ability to initiate conversations with perfect strangers, and more importantly, how to listen to their stories and empathize with them. The lessons I learned while standing behind an old wooden bar top remain to this day the most valuable ones of my life.
Eventually, I enrolled in college and earned two degrees in Graphic Design. I worked for Apple as a Campus Rep while attending the University at Buffalo, designing marketing materials for several institutions around New York State. I also trained faculty and staff in their transition from the legacy OS 9 system to the newer UNIX-based OS X platform. As a Campus Rep, I was routinely tasked with delivering Keynote presentations on Apple software and technologies to rooms full of people, sometimes hundreds. This alone was worth the experience. Having the confidence to not only speak in front of that many people, but to do it effectively, is a level of communication that I may never have attained otherwise.
After graduating from school, I continued on with Apple, this time as a ‘Genius’ in the retail division. During this period I freelanced for several small businesses in the Buffalo area and started my own little project, Lovely Junkie; where I enlisted a handful of talented friends to blog about their respective fields of expertise. Design, film, culture, and more. I ran the site and produced designs for it; including desktop wallpapers, posters, and apparel. I sold Lovely Junkie goods via an online storefront and peddled them at local arts fairs. It was the first taste of running my own show, and I loved it.
I left Apple after four years and took a full-time position as the Lead Graphic Designer for an international company in Niagara Falls, New York. Lovely Junkie had run its course by this time as we were all moving on to our own individual projects. I started Swivel Arms Studio shortly thereafter, where I continued to produce personal work while maintaining a steady freelance business. It didn’t take too long before I left the security of my day job and went “full-time” with Swivel Arms. It proved to be a period of both successes and failures, but overall, a worthwhile endeavor. In the beginning of 2013, I began to re-evaluate my position and made the difficult decision to reinvent myself yet again. The focus shifted to being more selective in which client work I would take on, and turning more of my attention toward personal work and skill development.
Shortly after, I was offered a position as a Web Developer for an ecommerce start-up in Southern California. I had always dreamed about living on the West Coast, so I jumped at the opportunity to give it a go. I drove my way across the country, an adventurous trek that I look forward to doing again one day; there’s just something about that open road, man.
Today, I spend my days developing websites for brands like Swell and Active, among others, while pursuing my ultimate goal of working exclusively for myself in my own time. Always evolving; always looking to master new skills and get better at what I do, each and every day.