Brian Paupaw is a graphic designer residing in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Like me, you may know him as Deka. I was first introduced to Deka by my roommate who thought we should know each other since I volunteer for Stoked and Deka runs the Hoods to Woods Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes awareness of the outdoors to inner city 13 – 19 year-olds through year-round activities such as snowboarding, indoor rock climbing, camping, hiking and more.
To find out how Deka accomplished a successful graphic design career and creating the Hoods to Woods Foundation, I asked him a few questions about how he got to where he is today.
What’s your profession and what steps did you need to take to do what you do?
I’m a Broadcast Designer / Director / Entrepreneur. I went to school for Communication Design at Parsons. After I graduated, I worked in internet for a few years, left and started doing T-shirt graphics for Urban fashion brands. I got bored with still graphics, so I went to Barnes and Noble and bought a Final Cut and Adobe After Effects book, and taught myself how to do motion graphics six years ago. That was the best move I made because I ended up working on all these cool motion graphics projects for Spike TV, MTV, BET, Lifetime, and HBO. Outside of Television I worked on various music video projects from Fantasia, Cormega, Pharoahe Monch, L.I.F.E, Mary Mary, Young Joc and more! And outside of pushing pixels I run a non-profit that introduces the outdoors to urban youth called the Hoods to Woods Foundation. What inspired me to start the Hoods to Woods project was coming home from amazing trips around the world and wanting to share that same passion for the outdoors with people in my community.
What have you learned from skating/snowboarding/surfing?
What I learned from skating, snowboarding & surfing is that you have to commit if you want to learn. I started surfing two years ago and it has been very challenging especially when you are so used to rippin hard on a snowboard for 11 years, then you get smacked around by waves.
Surfing is like being born. You have to let go and accept that you are starting over because the skills from snowboarding don’t really transfer over that well.
Who has played an important role in your life/career?
I would say that a few teachers I had in the public school saw that I had talent very early. When you are told you are talented and win awards every year, it gets drilled into your head that you are good to pursue a career in the arts no matter what challenges you face.
What advice do you have for Stoked youth who aspire to do what you do?
Please do not let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your dreams and goals. People give up so easy when no one supports their endeavors. When you look into the mirror every day, understand that reflection is BEAUTIFUL, INTELLIGENT and STRONG. There is only one you! Make it happen!
What are you stoked about these days?
I’m stoked about shreddin and surfing around the world this winter!
Check out Deka’s column at Rad Collector to find out more about his adventures, work with Hoods to Woods, and most importantly his selections of music to shred to.