“Blue collar work ethic with a white collar mindset.” – That’s how someone described me recently and you know what? I’ll take it.

I graduated from High School in 2005 with no idea of what I wanted to do. Pressured by faculty and society to dive into a 4-year school but having no direction in which I truly wanted to go. I knew this much, I didn’t want to be in a cubical from 9a-5p, Monday thru Friday. Not that there is anything wrong with that and not that I have less respect for anyone in a position like that, I just knew from a young age that it wasn’t for me. Upon graduation I knew a few things; I liked helping people, I was creative and I was a darn good drummer. The first chapter of my life upon graduation would soon commence.

34814_404808668844_6840895_nI was blessed and fortunate to be a founding member, and take part as drummer in the christian rock band, This Fires Embrace , for over 5 years. An opportunity in which I was able to travel the country, create music and make an impact in lives everywhere. Surprisingly, I learned a series of useful traits that would help me as I would one day launch In Transit Studios. I learned sales, I learned how to manage and work with people, how to persevere when all seemed lost and in very rough situations and I learned how to create and help manage projects to meet deadlines. To know your demographic and to sell accordingly, to solve problems when there weren’t any solutions in a manual and to use Myspace…well I guess you can’t use everything you learn. But the bottom line is the experience I had as a traveling musician oddly transitioned perfectly into becoming an entrepreneur.

that's-meDuring high school and the few years following, I also went from “clean up boy” to a “cabinet maker” at ,Creative Mobile Interiors. In that time, I learned some invaluable lessons on attention to detail, project management, deadlines and working with others. I saw what it means to move up the ladder in a company. I also saw what hard work looked like and it challenged me and inspired me to do more than just sweep floors. It was my time at Creative Mobile Interiors that really instilled my blue collar work ethic.

When the time came for the band to slow down and my time with Creative Mobile was past, I had already started diving into graphic design and doing freelance work. Many have asked me, “How’d you get your start?” Well, I started designing our cd artwork and t-shirt designs and people started asking, “How much would you charge for that?” I thought, wow, I could do something I love and make some money at it…that’d be cool. Thus it began. At the time I started doing freelancing my graphic design work, This Fires Embrace was releasing the 3rd studio album “In Transit” and I thought that was fitting. It was such a time of transition and such a new season. My business would soon take on the name In Transit Studios. Which is very fitting in my mind now because life is constantly in transition and change. Especially in the business world where technology is moving so fast.

So I began my design career with an eye for design and expertise in print design, but a crucial piece was still missing. Web. A fellow colleague and close friend told me “You should really get into web design as well.” and I’m glad I did. At the time I was helping Leave A Mark Church with some design pieces and they asked if I was interested in helping them with the website. I went in head first. Afraid of code, terrified of the web industry and really not impressed with the personalities of most web designers I came across. But with a little help of some trusted friends, mentors and the support of my family, I officially started In Transit Studios in the fall of 2010.

It was also that time when I started taking classes at Columbus State Community College and sought a degree in Digital Design & Graphics with a focus in web design. I’ll be the first to admit that I severely under estimated the value of college and a higher education. I thought – I can read, I can communicate, why do I need to waste money in more school? If I could go back in time and knock some sense into 18 year old Josh, I would. But hey, live and learn. My time there was invaluable. The degree I chose was ideal for me in learning Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, In Design, Color Management, HTML, CSS, web design, print design, photography and more. Since I had just started my business, I was able to put that new found knowledge into immediate use for all my clients and projects I was working on. I graduated in 2013 with an Associated degree in Digital Design & Graphics.

DerksWorks-413-20150314-213383Flash forward to the present. I was married recently, 3.14.15, to my beautiful wife Emilee and have now taken the role of husband and family man and I love it! We’re excited to start this next chapter of life and I’m excited to have In Transit Studios as the tool in which I provide value to many clients, make a difference in the community and to one day support a family. I have been blessed and fortunate to have grown this business for almost 5 years while doubling the profit margin every year since my start. I’ve been able to work with truly some of the best clients out there as well as working along side some of the most honest, integral people I know. My network has expanded immensely in the last 5 years and I’m surrounded by a great group of fellow colleagues in design, development, accounting, video, IT and so much more.

I’ve also been able to use my experience so far to reach out to those who are still in school or just getting into the industry. As a mentor for the South Western Career Academy Interactive Media – Student to Workplace Mentor Program, I’m able to sit down with students one on one and help guide them through design, web development and more. I’ve also recently been elected to serve on the SWCA Interactive Media Board of Advisors where I’m able to use real world experience to help shape the school programs and keep everything up to date.

It’s truly been a wild ride thus far and I know the sky’s the limit. My story hopefully sheds some light as to what it mean to have a “Blue Collar work ethic with a White Collar mindset.” Even more reason for me to start this blog and to share some of the knowledge that I’ve been fortunate to have gained so far.

Thanks for taking the time to read a bit of my story and be sure to read some of the blogs I’ve posted so far! I hope they inspire and help you in some way, shape or form.



Recent family picture, courtesy of Kent Smith Photography