Writing Was on the Wall
Pictured above, my 1976 seventh grade graduation class at Briar Vista Elementary.
I was host of our graduation ceremony and, look, the writing was the writing on the wall. Pin stripe suit from S5A Boys Department, tortoise aviator frames from Sears Optical, two-tone Dexter shoes from Little Pimp and ‘Ho Shop on Luckie Street.
I was born in 1963 Jacksonville, Florida’s Saint Luke’s Hospital — as close to sainthood as I’d come. After moving to Atlanta, I entered 3rd grade in and graduated Druid Hills in 1981 with an abysmal SAT score offset by a withering record of extra curricular activities that did not involve the boy’s locker room.
A charitable admissions professional at UNC-Chapel Hill placed me in the freshman class of Michael Jordan before another sympathetic admissions officer at Georgetown University in DC figured what was good enough for Michael was good enough for Patrick Ewing. Sports Fact: I am the only person in NCAA history to have won NCAA Championship at two different universities.
I graduated from Georgetown with honors because I took subjects that did not require math or logic. On the back of a prestigious fellowship at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Pete (“Matt, stick with fiction; you are not cut out for facts.”) I landed in a blue suit inside Manning Selvage & Lee public relations.
Under the wise and patient guidance of Atlanta’s George Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize winner and Dean of Atlanta PR agency. Goodwin is the kind of man of whom others still say, “I aspire to be like George.” At 94, George and I remain friends.
This began a period in my career called The Itinerary. My 1986 job at Manning Selvage & Lee led to my 1988 job in NYC in service to Lippincott & Margulies. This led to my 1989 job at Chiat/Day’s Bright Design in Santa Monica which led to my 1990 job at Rod Dyer Group and its rooftop cow of fiberglass (designers are hilariously predictable in their hilarious predictability).
In 1991, Saatchi & Saatchi provided a one-way ticket to Bangkok where I stayed for about a year. Homesick, I returned to Atlanta where the affable, kind, talented Bob Wages of legendary Wages Design hired me. I stayed in one place for four years.
Bob gave me the opportunities needed to become a bonafide creative writer: he assigned paper promos for Hopper Paper and other clients. I moved from the account service role to a creative role and never looked back. There, Anne Telford gave me my first writing assignment for Communication Arts Magazine.
In 1995 Lippincott & Margulies offered me a position in San Francisco. It was a learning experience Like Dorothy’s in Oz, full of witches, flying monkeys and Professor Marvels. I did not last long in this job, but long enough to meet the love of my life, George Aguilar of San Jose, a man of boundless optimism patience and hard work.
In January 1997, I opened PorterWrite Design Consulting. I have been with myself since. Soon, my friend Anne Telford of Communication Arts would make me regular contributor. Next, Emily Potts at STEP (now with Rockport Publishers) did too. Friends at UPS engaged me in jobs and roles that would last until this good day (UPS has been very good to PorterWrite). Others, big and small, for profit and not, began to call.
From there, after a life of chasing rainbows, I mercifully stayed put long enough to develop real bonds and lasting experiences. A house became home. A couple became a marriage and a family. A family became a life and life led to joy and loss—and both are beautiful. Gratitude trumps regret and friends trump chumps. I’ve never had a friend I was unwilling to share. My greatest gift is connecting friends. It makes get togethers so much more fun.