This week’s spotlight is on Stephen Denas. Stephen is a very interesting and easy going man. He is the founder and owner of Psiborg Productions. Psiborg Productions is a creative web and graphic design company. Although, Stephen would never say it, he and his company has helped influence and build several brands, including 4-U-Nique Publishing’s founder Vid Lamonte’ Buggs Jr’s brand. We caught up with this “wiz kid” to find more about him, Psiborg Productions, and his aspirations. Stephen isn’t one who talks much about himself so it is a honor to present this interview to you all. Enjoy!
4-U-Nique Publishing: Tell us about yourself and Psiborg Productions?
Stephen Denas: I am a complex man trying to lead a simple life.
Born and raised in Syracuse NY, a second generation Greek-American (and if you saw “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” then you get some insight into some aspects of how I was raised). Left NY at 17 to go to the University of Miami to study Biology and Chemistry with sights set on med school. Never made it to med school and thankfully so as I have found my life was meant for more than just one career path.
After graduation and a few years attempting to enter medical school, I pursued my scientific side by working at Mt Sinai Med Center on Miami Beach in the pulmonary research department for seven years. I am published in many scientific journals as co-author on dozens of studies. From there I switched to corporate America with a job in medical diagnostic sales. Something I thought I would never do. I was entering a “money-making” mind-set being in my late 20’s at this point. Although I felt I was turning away from my schooling as a scientist, at least in medical sales, I had to keep abreast of current changes in science, technology and medicine; thus allowing me to continue to be a “pseudo-scientific” person. I was afraid to go into sales as I felt I was too introverted to connect at a level of a “salesman” with all the BS that goes along with making a sale. I found out very quickly that all I needed to do to be successful was to be honest with the products that I represented and my only goal was to educate future and current clients as to how I could help improve their businesses and research studies. I never went in thinking I needed to make a sale. My territory covered the entire southeast US and I spent a lot of time in planes and hotels.
My next career path was a complete departure from anything I had done prior and was presented to me through cosmic channels. Although I was always motivated to pursue a career in science I had always maintained a creative side, either through art or writing as “extra-life” stuff and that lead to the creation of my own company, Psiborg Productions.
Founded in 2001, Psiborg Productions is a small one man company (just me) that produces web sites, and graphic art projects for small to medium size companies. We, (you should talk in the plural when mentioning your company. That makes you look bigger than you are. Grins) can help companies in all aspects of marketing materials from logo creation, to printed materials, to websites, and even video creations.
4UNP: How did Psiborg Productions get started?
SD: What you think, becomes your reality.
I was with that same medical diagnostic company (mentioned above) for over 14 years, then decided I wanted to go to a new company that was heavily involved in the latest DNA research and testing technologies. Within 13 months of taking that new job I was laid off due to products not getting through the FDA fast enough to justify keeping me on (by this point in my career I had become an infectious disease expert in sales, which was why they hired me, but it was those new products that failed approval). Six months prior to losing that job, I recall sitting on a plane coming home from a long and fruitless trip saying to myself: “I am getting tired of all the travel. I think I need a change”. Well, that’s exactly what I got. I was now in a position of another re-invention of myself. Although I could have replaced the sales job with another very easily, I decided to do something totally different, but something that had been with me all my life. Use my creativity and become an artist of some sort.
4UNP: How did you get interested in Graphic and Web designing?
SD: Creativity is the highest form of existence. (Think about it)
A close friend of mine was a graphic artist, and when I was trying to decide what I should do next after my “firing” (might as well call it that), she suggested I try what she did. And I DID!
It became evident rather quickly that the perfect fit with being a graphic artist was web design. The internet was already overcoming all printed marketing and advertising media and I knew eventually every business would need a website. So it was a no-brainer to do both. I learned about web programming with mostly free online tutorials and lots of trial and error. I started with simple projects and over time (as with anything on the internet) I HAD to improve my skill-set to remain competitive. It’s an ongoing process that I enjoy as it keeps my brain active.
SIDE-NOTE: A very important decision mentally for me was that I knew I was going to be making much less money initially. And quite frankly I have yet to achieve the same income as when I was in sales. But the trade-off of “loving what I do” vs. my income, far out-weighs the money.
4UNP: What sets you apart from others who are in your industry?
SD: What sets me apart is that I am still in business after 16 plus years. That’s a little web designer humor. Seriously though, web, and graphic designers come and go all the time, and I have acquired many clients who were left high-and-dry in the middle of projects. New clients find out right away that I am an honest and thoughtful company owner whose range of knowledge and experience brings many valuable assets to the table for those trying to start a new venture or improve their current business.
Having been in sales prior to starting my own company gives me insight to both sides of the business equation. I am very analytical, but not at the expense of my creative side. Although I am not a “marketing” company per se, my advice and guidance is worthy of being one.
On top of all that is the creative side (that’s the best part of my job). Being both the artist and the web programmer allows me to think in both creative and technical aspects at the same time thus streamlining the project for optimum results.
My philosophy is that my success is dependent on your success. I truly believe that, and my customers come to realize I am in it for the long haul. Getting new customers has mostly been by word of mouth (what can be better marketing than that), but, it’s my “customer service” is what keeps them!
One other thing is that I try to give my clients something a bit more than they expected. Either price-wise or creative-wise.
4UNP: What advice would you have for someone looking to get into web and graphic design?
SD: Just do it! Don’t be afraid!
- As far as web development, I am self-taught. There are enough resources and tutorials available online (and many for free) for people to get the necessary training. At least for the web programming. Start simple and work your way up. Eventually, you will be forced to improve and increase your skill set as projects dictate.
- Graphic design (creativity) however is subjective. If you don’t feel you are “artistic enough” to tackle that aspect, there are many reasonably priced websites where you can purchase quality graphics (photos, templates and such) to make your projects look very professional.
- Reach out to friends and acquaintances, or new start-up businesses locally and offer reduced prices to those willing to “take a chance” on your new venture. Be honest and tell people you are just starting out.
4UNP: How has the industry of web/graphic design changed since you first started?
SD: Web design and programming changes ALL THE TIME! From design trends to better programming, to new programming languages, to learning about animation and Search Engine Optimizations, new platforms, etc. Then there is Google that dictates their preferences as to “what makes a website good”. So in keeping up with all that it is a never-ending necessity to keep educating your self. Which for me, is a good thing as I enjoy the challenge and learning new skills also keeps the mind young. That’s a bonus!
As far as graphic design…. Styles, colors, trends and even design layouts for anything continues to evolve as it has since the beginning of time.
Technically speaking, the software used keeps getting better which has helped efficiency and productivity. Some things I used to have to “farm-out”, now can be done in-house.
4UNP: Can you tell us anything funny that you had to encounter in your industry?
SD: Nothing really comes to mind that is particularly funny, except maybe the ignorance of some of my clients. But my job is FUN! (mostly)
4UNP: You work with people from all walks of life. Can you tell us about two or three of the most interesting people you have worked with?
SD: The most interesting person would be Gary Bowersox. He is an explorer and world-wide gem hunter. He has been called “a modern-day Indiana Jones”. His adventures in Afghan cave-mining have posed real-life dangers. He has served as a consultant to the Department of Defense, the government of Afghanistan, USAID/ASMED, and The World Bank. After serving as a U.S. Army major in Vietnam, Bowersox has now spent 46 years exploring and researching gems and minerals in Afghanistan and Central Asia. He has been interviewed many times on TV during the beginning of the war in Afghanistan as an expert in internal affairs. He has written books and he has also been featured in a full length documentary. His projects with me have ranged from building a website to creating videos and various print projects. He still travels (at age 71) to Afghanistan as an envoy and consultant. Read more about Gary here: http://www.thegemhunters.com/
Another interesting person is Allen Stupica. He is an actual rocket scientist (aerospace engineer) whose hobby/passion is an online cartoon character known as Zak. Being a huge fan of physics, I enjoy chatting with him about theories and technology. However, the best part is his sense of humor and imagination. For example, during a conversation about a particular project, it is very likely we would talk about time travel and Santa Claus and how they might even be related. We have worked together to produce some minor animations of his character for the internet. That is always fun, albeit challenging as I only dabble in animations and use rudimentary techniques.
Check out Allen and his cartoon character Zak here: https://www.facebook.com/Zak-comic-594098607332013/
4UNP: If you could work with or hold a conversation with anyone past, present, or future, who would they be?
SD: This is an impossible question as there are many fantastic people (past and present) to consider, but here are a few I would be honored to meet:
Past: Einstein (cliché but would be amazing), Sidhartha, Socrates, and Ghandi
Present: Stephen Hawking, Barack Obama, and the Dali Lama
Future: I found this question curious; and the only person in the future I could think of would be myself. He (I) would be able to give me great insight “ahead of time” as to my life’s path(s). However! It might not be good to know as it would bias any decisions I have yet to make. Kind of like the prime directive on Star Trek. Altering time lines can have devastating affects. But maybe a couple of stock tips would be ok. (laughs)
4UNP: If you could be anything in the world what would you be?
SD: The answer to everything IS within everything.
I am very content with my life as it is! There is a lot to be said about (and nothing wrong with) a life filled with peace and prosperity, which is basically where I am at right now. However, it would be cool to pursue another one of my passions, either as a theoretical and/or an astrophysicist.
4UNP: What kind of books do you read? Who are you favorite authors?
SD: It’s been a long time since I read a book. Being on a computer all day long gives me plenty to read, but I am fond of Science Fiction and Philosophical thought themes. A couple of authors are Arthur C. Clark (no surprise there), and on the philosophical side, an author who changed almost everything on how I viewed reality would be Gary Zukav. Specifically his book, The Dancing Wu Lii Masters.
4UNP: What are you 2017 goals?
SD: Time is an illusion.
I have no goals. I just keep on keeping on. Pre-conceived goals for me is a negative. If you’re not “doing it today” then you are missing out, as you only have today. There is neither a past nor a future.
4UNP: Where can people interested in your work find you? Do you have a website and any social media profiles?
SD: Being a web designer, yes I do have a website. Sorry couldn’t resist a little sarcasm: psiborgproductions.com
As far as social media, I do have Facebook page but I am not engaged very much. I have very mixed feelings about FB and this need for people to expound there own self-worth through the daily minutia of their lives. However a business FB page can have great value (depending on the business).
4UNP: What message do you want to leave anyone reading this interview with?
SD: Everything above is worthless and a bunch of crap for anyone other than myself.
What you think becomes your reality. Forget the skill sets; forget the contacts; forget the education; if you don’t believe in yourself then it “ain’t gonna happen”.
I believe the mind is so powerful, that if you are convinced of something, it will in fact manifest. So, have no fear and just do it!
Please visit Stephen and Psiborg Productions at www.psiborgproductions.com
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