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Meet Dan Schonberg of Schonberg Design in San Clemente

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dan Schonberg.

Dan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I was a child, I was kind of a kid who got in trouble for drawing during class. My senior year in high school, I took a commercial art class and learned what graphic design was. The teacher saw how interested I was in that (and my art class) and gave me a pass to get out of math class to work on a “big project”. Eventually the math teacher called us out on this and I had to return, but I always knew why my art teacher did that to stoke the interest of an otherwise lost high school student.

Off to college (Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida) where I would have majored in art but thought it wise to major in Graphic Design. After graduation, I would up at a creative agency in Jacksonville but after a year, my soul cried for California. I had some family in San Diego, so it was an easy decision. Upon my arrival, however, I felt the need to not return to the corporate world but to sow my wild oats as an artist, which I did.

Eventually, after creating lots of great art, it was time to return to my “real career” and going just that I would up as an in-house graphic designer for over a decade at a large medical device company in Carlsbad. After a company merger and declining a relocation package, I bounced around freelancing.

I landed a 2-month website build and after that was over, I thought, “what if its easier for me to get another client than it is to get a new job? So I tried, landed another client quite easily and so my business was off to the races. Over the next three years, I have become a leading graphic designer in San Clemente with lots of local clients and over 20 5 star Google reviews.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
In February of 2019, I lost my wife Sheila to cancer and that devastated me. I knew that she knew how passionate I was about my art and design, so there was lots of sadness but never depression. After my bereavement time, I decided it was best to honor her by channeling my pain into my work. If I just laid there feeling sorry for my situation, I am pretty sure she would come back down and smack me.

There was only one regret I had regarding our time together and that was that I never did art for her. She would say to me, “you should draw my eye, its real trippy.” Also, when times were hard, she always reminded me to “Keep Swimming” in reference to the line from Finding Nemo.

That is when I started the series of “fish eye” paintings. Since then, I expanded it into other sea creatures to loosely symbolize the people that have helped me grieve, the other fish I swam into, if you will. Sure there is a few non-aquatic creatures in there but they each have a reason. The wolf, that was my wife’s spirit animal, the alien, well I just love aliens, the mushroom…Sheila used mushroomZ as many of her passwords I discovered after her passing, and the bat is not swimming but “Hanging in There”.

This series was really a way for me to grieve and pass the time during the quarantine, but its reception has exceeded my expectations. People are contacting me to buy and commission. I know my wife is looking down with a smile on that one.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Schonberg Design – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
As a graphic design freelancer, I have come to be known for my versatility and creativity. Starting as a graphic designer, it has grown into so much more. Schonberg Design is now doing entire Brand Strategies right up to SEO. Graphic design, websites, creative writing, photography, animations and SEO have been a suite of services I find not many others can match without a team. I get a lot of pleasure out of the fact that I can be creative enough to paint these fun fish eyes and yet diligent and responsible enough to have a successful business creating brand strategies.

The first client (SR Global Security) who really cut me loose and let me create the entire plan and implement it, has recently told me that my work has increased business for him significantly. Before Schonberg Design they had six clients and 20 employees, while now after Schonberg Design, they have about 20 clients and about 70 employees! I also got them to the top spot on Google for private Security, Ventura County, which is no easy task, nonetheless for a creative, so I am very proud of that account. It is my proof of concept, if you will.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My plan for the future is to stay the course. Using my art to bring attention to my commercial art has been something I have avoided so as not to dilute my brand, yet the way it is happening now is the organic way it should happen. So now I get to be this half artist, half designer type of guy I always wanted to be and that is exciting. My business plan is to start outsourcing anything non-creative, staying in what one of my career coaches calls my zone of genius.

I hope to find a few more clients like SR Global Security that will also cut me loose on their marketing, to keep painting the fish eyes and will begin making and selling prints soon. I also have started a new marketing campaign for myself where I am giving free framed photos to any local businesses as a gift and to let people know who I am.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photo Credit for Photo of Me: Kait Mckay Photography

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