I love transparent people (because I strive to be one). That said, today’s interviewee, Quentin Fountain, is an open book about many topics and just fun to talk to. What I love about his mind is that he’s willingly stepped back for a moment to re-evaluate life. I think his Black Perspective will benefit people more than they know.
Introducing: Quentin Fountain
SSD: Jumping right in, tell me a bit about yourself and what you do.
QF: Let’s see… I’m a 44-year-old former freehand illustrator who dabbled a little bit in the arts of rapping and production, father of three humans, two dogs, a cat (I hate cats), and husband to a brilliant woman that I’ve known since the fourth grade. I’m a music-head (predominantly Hip-Hop and Jazz, but listen to damn near everything), headphone enthusiast, tech-obsessed, video gamer, tv/movie nerd, who loves a good IPA or “top shelf” vodka. I spend way too much time admiring home office workspace photographs/videos and I also dabble in photography and spent the past 24 years designing and developing websites and web applications for a living, up until very recently.
These days when I’m not chatting/hanging out with the wife/kids or being harassed by the four-legged creatures, I spend my time listening to music, thinking of ways to customize my workspace, and cooking up random ideas/projects while trying to figure out what my next move is going to be, professionally.
SSD: What is it about tech that draws you to it?
QF: I wish I knew how to properly answer this one. It’s such a wide-open question…
Initially, I was drawn to it simply because of what I witnessed fellow creatives doing with computers when I got a job working at a t-shirt print shop (I was working the presses and catching/folding) about a year after I’d dropped out of high school. I was an artist (freehand illustrator, amongst other things) at the time, and seeing how it made so much possible creatively; it really opened my mind up.
So, I threw a party/show and raised enough money to buy my first (used) Apple computer and the software that I needed (Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator). I went from hand drawing event flyers to creating them on my computer and getting them printed at Kinko’s, to starting my own graphic design company. From there I learned that I had a knack for taking things apart and putting them back together (mostly talking about computers), had a general curiosity of how things worked, and also discovered the internet… and code.
Changed my life.
Basically – all that to say, what draws me to it, I guess, are the possibilities that are created because of it. Especially for a dude who was too poor to even know that the internet was a thing, to then starting my own graphic design company, and later – graphic and web design companies. It basically made the world a much larger and more interesting place to me and continues to [do so]. I also love beautiful design and things have come a seriously long way since the beige boxes.
SSD: What inspired you to get into what you’re doing now? Why step back away from it all?
QF: My inspiration to do what I’m currently doing? Currently, I’m enjoying music and HiFi headphones, rediscovering my love of tech and home office design, and focusing on my health — mental and physical — via regular exercise and (home, cause fuck COVID) weight training, amongst other things.
Early last year, I had a bit of a mental breakdown, which lead to some larger health issues. So I came to this point in my life because of that and realizing that I needed to make some changes and prioritize my wellbeing, rather than work.
SSD: That’s real. Having experienced that – what do you think are the warning signs that people should heed prior to getting to the point of a mental breakdown?
With so many people under constant stress right now – I think info like that is vital from people who have been through it who are willing to share.
QF: The warning signs for me, came in the form of no longer enjoying what I was doing, but still continuing on, simply to collect a check and pay the bills. It eventually became the core source of my misery. That misery bubbled up into burnout. That burnout eventually became mental/physical illness, because I’d never stopped long enough to take time for myself and find what I still enjoyed, beyond drinking and smoking after a long workday to make the days move along. Didn’t matter whether I was working a 9 – 5 or running my own business, I simply no longer loved what I was doing.
Doing that for years can take a toll — along with all of the general bullshit of the industry and business ownership — especially if you don’t take a breather and reassess things. If you’re not paying attention, you start taking these things out on other people… significant other, kids, people you’re playing video games with online… lol. That stress unchecked can turn into other things, and it did for me.
SSD: What’s a tip that you’d give someone who sees you, is inspired, and wants to follow in your footsteps?
QF: My only tip, is to prioritize your mental (and physical) health. Fuck these jobs. They’ll replace you the day after you work yourself to death for them. Fuck em.