"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
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.