Ashton is one of our 20 Builders and is a graphic designer in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Name: Ashton Wirrenga
City/Town: Bismarck, North Dakota
Where else can we connect with you online?
Who is your community?
My community has taken many forms. On a daily basis, I’m surrounded by a very-forward thinking, talented group at CoSchedule that is super passionate about start up culture. On the weekends my community is close friends and family who share in fun activities, and on the side my community is that of other creatives: designers, photographers, filmmakers. I’m also involved and have a heart for ministry so the takes form as a community with certain events as well.
Give us a behind-the-scenes look at your average day.
On a typical day, I go to work at CoSchedule where I design all sorts of marketing materials from blog graphics, to support materials, to helping with the actual app itself. I have lunch a couple blocks away with the Threefold team, and then continue my work until 5pm. Then, I drive home and enjoy cooking myself a nice dinner (if available, my fiance will join), take a break, and then return to my creative work which often takes form in that of photography. I have my own photography business so shooting and editing consists of most my nights, while sometimes that time is replaced by other various design projects: branding, handlettering, editorial work, etc. Currently, I’m planning my wedding so that has been a highlight of my days. I finish my work, give my fiance a call, wind down, and then go to bed.
What challenge in your life or work are you most interested in overcoming?
Tough question! I think my biggest personal challenge right now is time and balancing my creative work. In the Bismarck community, I think a challenge we have is getting creatives together on a more regular basis, those of the same industry and those within the greater creative community. I would love to bring them together or inspire “non-creatives” to develop their creativity within. I’m not sure what that would look like exactly (OTA does a great job doing that!), but it’d be something I’d like to look at and help with.
If you could do any job, what would you do and why?
In design specifically, I’m drawn to branding as it gives a visual identity to an idea. It allows an idea to take shape, and enter the lives of those around us. I’m also passionate about photography and creating experiences that share in creativity. Thus, I think my dream job would be a “Creativity Facilitator” that does so using design and photography. I completely believe that everyone is creative, although I know many wouldn’t define themselves as creative, which causes me great, great frustration. I want everyone to see their potential and use their creativity in their industry!
What is the most beneficial aspect of living in the OTA region when it comes to your career?
Living in Bismarck and the OTA region has literally created an opportunity for me to do what I love each day. Through the various communities there’s been a new spark of creativity and entrepreneurship and without that, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do at CoSchedule nor my photography business. There’s passionate people, talent, and support, and for that, I am grateful.
At what intersection do you live your life?
I live at the intersection of Design and Community.
Where do you think good ideas come from?
I tend to find good ideas when my time is balanced accordingly and when I try to create in a new forms. Lately, I’ve experimented with the art of cooking, designing magazines, and sketch for pleasure whenever I find the time. In these moments, there’s no plan or agenda, it’s creation at its most basic form, and I find that those moments refresh my mind to new possibilities and potential ideas.
What’s one current trend you think will change the world?
A huge trend right now is social media. I know that may sound cliche; however, I think it could change the world if its used in a more specific way. Connection is the heart of all humanity, and so if we could better shape the way in which we communicate, the world would be a far better place. We’d connect intentionally, instead of out of habit.
What’s the best way to put inspiration into action?
I think the biggest thing is to just do it! Set your mind to it, have a goal ind mind, choose a date, and start with your first step. The only thing between inspiration and action is discipline and passion, once you have those you’re all set.
What’s the greatest risk you’ve taken?
I think the greatest risk I’ve ever taken was “moving” to Madrid, Spain, for one month upon graduating high school. It was my first time flying alone, let alone across the world, and I had to learn a new culture, language, and develop a new daily routine. It was one of the best experienced of my life, and I’ve returned to Spain whenever the opportunity arises.
What’s your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?
This past spring, I created an event called “Compassion Day.” The idea was that whomever started sponsoring a child would receive a free photo mini session with a local photographer. I had a great group of photographers excited to give their time, but when it came to it, only few people participated. I was totally shocked that people didn’t want free photos! I learned that it takes a lot of people to put something like that together, far beyond just myself, and that my idea may have needed to be simpler for it to be communicated better. I would have benefited by more community support, but overall I’m glad I tried it.
Who do you hope to leave a legacy for?
I want to leave a legacy for my future children, that they would live in a more creative-motived culture both in school and in the professional realm. I also want to leave a legacy for the next generations of creatives. That there would be more of them, and that they can benefit from my experiences.
Who is the most connected person in your life, and what personal characteristics make him or her so well-connected?
Keenan Hauff comes to mind. He seems to know anyone and everyone, and has a personal connection with who they are or where they are at in life. He’s outgoing, adventurous, and has a nice smile. He’s not scared or ashamed of who he is, and encourages others to be the same.
Who is the most creative person in your life, and why?
My mother is the most creative person in my life. Over the course of my life, she’s created in so many different mediums as well as excelled in her preferred areas of art. She’s always been determined to do freelance since college, and has continually made that possible, even over the course of a changing culture to digital means.
Who is the most community-focused person in your life, and how do they impact their communities?
I would have to say either Garrett Moon or Justin Walsh, the two co-founders of CoSchedule. Since day one meeting with them, they’ve had a goal of creating more community in Bismarck. I’ve seen how Start Bismarck started from the ground up and has turned into a full on organization… and they won’t stop there. Community is at the heart of CoSchedule, and will be something they pursue as long as they’re able.
The OTA Builders are a group of individuals who thrive on possibility and use all opportunities they are given to grow both in their careers and in their passions. We seek creatives who are tenacious and strong-willed movers and doers and are driven to make a significant impact on the people around them and the community they call home. These people recognize their talents and capabilities and find ways to continuously grow and learn from them. Why is this you?
I fall into this category as I never stop making stuff. I’m incredibly internally motivated, which causes great focus and discipline, and I know there’s so much more to learn. I’m open to any and all creative possibilities both in my life and my career. I want to use what I love to help the world, and more so my local community.
What project will you focus on as part of the OTA Builders Program?
I will create a Spring issue of Bevo Magazine that’s printed and distributed.
What change / advancement do you hope to achieve as part of the OTA Builders Program?
I would like to see community growth as well as personal growth relating to creativity. I’d like to further develop my design style, but also serve the community in a meaningful way.