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"Rock was a joy to work with. The final product exceeded my expectations. The combination of creative talent, technical skills and professionalism is top notch! I'll be back for more!"

–Cindy Stiles, Owner, Krazy Mutt, Saugatuck, Michigan

 

Design:Whirled

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My name is Rock Langston, and Tomato Graphics (formerly Many Hats Creative Studio) is the current manifestation of my 35 years as an artist and designer. Here, briefly, is the tale of how I've toted my wildly-varied career around the US, and beyond.

My original design focus was on artwear, which grew from my interest in sewing and clothing design at age ten. To help create a showcase for my work, I joined with other artwear designers to form Surface Design Minnesota (SDM). My work was featured in a number of publications, including Mpls. magazine, and Ornament magazine. In 1983, one of my pieces, "The Jack of Diamonds", was acquired for the permanent collection of the Minnesota Historical Society.

In the early 80s, I "went West, young woman," to attend the Pacific Basin School for Textile Arts in Berkeley, California. Moving from Minnesota to California was a real eye-opener in more than one area: gardening came into focus, too. Taking advantage of California's community college system, I began classes in Landscape Design. Slowly my focus shifted from dye pots to dirt, and from French knots to knot gardens. I earned, and I mean earned, my Contractor's License, donned my gardening hat, and went to work as a residential Landscape Contractor (Pink Rock Landscaping). My business expanded to include interior house painting, specializing in color consulting and faux-finish work. And, always looking at other design fields, I took a desktop publishing class, which stimulated new design ideas and possibilities.

After 13 years it was time to say good-bye to California and head to the Rose City: Portland, Oregon. There I worked briefly at a print/mail company. Not exciting, but my computer skills developed a bit, as did my interest in computer graphics.

In 1998, we moved to very northwestern Colorado, for a job opportunity—not mine; I came along for the ride and the adventure, which came to include four-day whitewater raft trips through the stunningly beautiful Dinosaur National Monument. There wasn't much call there for my design skills, so I accepted a position doing something completely different: teaching English composition, technical writing, and desktop publishing at Colorado Northwestern Community College. I loved it! Concurrently, I was thinking about the possibilities of graphic design and how I could take advantage of the wonders of technology to work in the Big Wide World from Tiny Town, Colorado. So, with time on my hands, and the invaluable Interlibrary Loan system, I began my school of one. I upgraded my computer and software, then began to grind through how-to books, taking any job that was offered as I developed my skills and portfolio. Work at a regional newspaper doing ad design and page layout was both a very good design exercise and an opportunity to increase my skills and production speed.

During my years in Colorado, I was part of an animal rescue and rehoming group. Many weekends were spent driving a van load of barkin' dogs up and over a mountain pass to adoption fairs two hours away. In our own small way we helped, overseeing the placement of about 1000 cats and dogs in new homes over a two-year period. Only two came home with us.

Throughout my life, I have been an avid traveler. As a child, we did many car trips, mostly to western states, where my romance with the West was born. In college I did a "10-countries-in-10-weeks" European tour, which piqued my interest in other cultures and languages. Most influencial were the 5 months I packed through Guatemala and México collecting and researching traditonal textiles and crafts, fully folding myself into the culture, language, and pace of these places. My fluency in Spanish is modest, but fearless, and I enjoy using that beautiful language when I can. Trip to México? Give me five minutes to pack!

Still a crafter, I love to knit, and enjoy pushing paint around on various surfaces. The two sewing machines are at the ready. There are the occasional moments of inspiration in the kitchen, and I still garden. An incidental hobby includes back road travel to view vernacular art and small town displays of individuality. Strange and idiosyncractic gardens particularly fascinate me. I will squeal to a stop to get photos of curious and wonderful signs, buildings, and other evidence of a creative hand at work.

A reader from the age of three, I am especially interested in non-fiction: biography, history, travel. Can't pass a magazine stand without picking up one thing, or two: one in an area of graphics, and another related to something new to me.

I now live in upper Palo Duro Canyon south of the city of Amarillo, Texas. It's beautiful! My two Old English Sheepdog sisters, Lola and Lindy, think so, too.

A college instructor once made the comment that a good designer can design anything. His words have carried me from one facet of my work to the next, with the confidence that my innate sense of design will always serve me, as it is now doing with my communication design work. Please visit my portfolio page to see examples of my recent work as Top Tomato. Let's discuss your graphic design needs. I look forward to working with you.

Rock
Toptomato
Amarillo, Texas

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