What I learned during my internship at Oxide (Kelsey Janda)

[You're reading part 3 (of 3). Read part 1. Read part 2.]

I’ve dreaded writing this one. Today is it. It’s the last day of my internship. I’ve tried to figure out why I’m so attached to this internship and these guys. Oxide has been wonderful. Truly great, but why is it this hard to say “See ya later”?

What I learned during my internship at Oxide [Kelsey Janda, part 3]Kelsey Janda self-portrait part 3

My best friend is my brother, Aaron. We’re so similar and yet so opposite. He’s nine years older than me. He’s a graphic designer, photographer, husband, and dad. He likes superhero movies. Spiderman is his favorite, and he can’t stand 3D movies. He’s meticulous and likes taking his time on whatever he’s trying to accomplish. If his job allowed it, he’d wear a superhero/nerd/graphic-design-inside-joke t-shirt and jeans every day. He likes Legos, and going to midnight showings of movies. When we get together, we like eating Mexican food, talking about our lives, showing each other our recent work, and talking about new movies coming out.

For those of you who know Oxide and the guys that work here, does this remind you of anyone? Working with Drew, Joe, Adam, and Drew is like working with Aaron every day. So, today, when I leave, it’s like leaving my best friend.

I’ve tried my best to describe Oxide, but I don’t think I can do it justice until I’ve introduced you to the guys, the way I know them. So, here we go:

Drew (Davies)

He saw a need for good information design in Omaha. Instead of trying to fix it quickly, he put together a brilliant solution that all of Omaha has benefitted from for the past ten years: Oxide Design Co.

If you hung out at Oxide for a day, you’d find out Drew likes a lot of things. Such as: unique-looking watches that don’t necessarily have to work, Aquaman, lighting his Lego scene, and using a notebook with Loverboy on the cover as his sketchbook.

Here’s what you might not know: People know Drew around town. And not as that guy that started that design firm sometime ago and is still going at it. No, they know him because like them, he cares about Omaha too. Along with being really good at information design, he’s one of the best communicators I know. Which is why it’s not surprise he’s on the national AIGA board and half a dozen other boards around Omaha, Nebraska, and the US.


He teaches a creativity course at Metropolitan Community College. And quite honestly, I think he’d be one of the coolest teachers to have. He teaches the way he’d want to be taught as a young graphic designer. He’s quick to listen and thoroughly thinks out advice and critique.

Joe, like Drew and all of us, likes a lot of things. Such as: Batman, monochrome outfits, rating movies on the Sparano Scale™, trying new kinds of breakfast food, Twitter (you can follow him @joesparano), and Batman. But, again, you could find all this out in a 15-minute conversation with him.

Here’s an inside look: Joe is one of the most quoted designers out of Nebraska. “Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” Joe adds the simplicity. He’s the guy you want going through your design with a fine-tooth comb because in the end it will be better. It will be Great™ design.


He plays a huge part in almost every logo constructed in the last four years at Oxide. His logo ideas are brilliant from the way they’re crafted to the first idea behind it all. He’s also one of the few people that can pick up a nice DSLR, snap some photos, and produce fantastic photography. Oh, and did I mention he’s a pretty great illustrator as well?

There are some obvious things Adam likes. Such as: hockey, deep-dish pizza, dancing, good music, hockey team logos (Note to UNO Maverick hockey: he’s not a fan of your new jerseys), antiquing, Hawkman, and awesome Halloween costumes.

Here’s what you don’t know: Adam likes giving his time to Big Brother Big Sisters. He’s a “Big Brother” to a ten-year-old little boy. Whenever I call Adam over to my computer to look at a design, I usually picture him running over with pom-poms. I know he’s going to encourage me, cheer me on. He’s going to encourage me to keep thinking and solve more of the problem. Or he’s going to celebrate a design victory with me.

Drew (Gourley)

Drew started a week before my internship with Oxide started, but you’d never know it. You’d think he’d been around as long as Adam or Joe. Drew is the web guy around Oxide and he’s crazy brilliant, a nerd to all extremes. He’s just the nerd that completes Oxide.

Gourley (also known on some days as Gordo) likes a lot of stuff. Such as: Minecraft, fancy fish and fish tanks, pugs, antiquing, drawing rockets, random outbursts of crazy dance moves, Mountain Dew, chocolate donuts from Bucky’s, and video game music.

Drew has never said no to a web assignment. He’s never responded with, “I don’t know how” or “I can’t do that”. Even if the web task Oxide is asking him to do is impossible, he tries for a least an hour to create code that would make it possible.


Now you know. You know why I love Oxide so much, why it’s hard to leave. These four men are the unique puzzle pieces that fit perfectly together to make Oxide. No one could ever fill their shoes. They’re all the best at what they do.

When I walk out the back door this afternoon and get into my car to leave, it’s going to take everything in me to not run back in and say, “Just kidding! I’ll stay. I’ll be the permanent intern. Nope, not ready to enter the real world yet!”

I know it’s time. They’ve poured so much knowledge and experience into me. I’ve learned, collaborated, and designed with the best design firm in town. And it’s been an honor.

But what do I know? I was just the intern.

14 Oct 2019

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