Mark Mason is a designer, art director, technologist, and founder of Shellshock – the latest edition to Hatch Entrepreneurial Center’s executive suites. We caught up with Mark to learn more about his background, and to glean insights into the design world.
You have a unique origin story – care to share that with readers?
I was born in Germany to a British father and Egyptian mother. My dad was an international DJ back in the 60s and 70s, and helped set up some of the first nightclubs in the Middle East.
I lived in different places throughout the Middle East and Europe until I moved to the United States when I was 15. Oddly enough, the USA was the biggest culture shock of all. I moved to a small town called Easton, MA, and was the only foreigner in the school.
When I got older and graduated from college, I sought out opportunities to travel again – but It wasn’t until I started freelancing that I started leveraging my design skills to make a living in foreign countries.
How have your travel experiences informed your eye for design, technology, etc.?
There’s a quote by St. Augustine: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” Great creative work requires inspiration, and you can get a lot of that through traveling.
It’s hard to find new alternatives if you are stuck in one location. But traveling to a new place and soaking up its culture, history and art provides tons of fresh perspective.
Technology in different countries can vary, as well. For instance, in China the selfie stick is widely popular, while here in the States it’s only just picking up. Knowledge like that can aid you when promoting design services in different countries.
You’re known for leveraging travel – even international travel – to create new business opportunities. How do you do it?
The first and biggest thing is getting over the fear. People around you will tell you that “you’re crazy” – but those are the same people that will never try to venture out.
The second thing you will need are… mistakes. As you attempt to create new business opportunities, you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t. Mistakes will happen, and that’s alright. In the long run, it will build your confidence when meeting new clients.
Everywhere I go, I see myself as an ambassador for my own personal brand. I will network and pass my information along when I see the opportunity. That’s been a key ingredient in building Shellshock’s new business.
What’s the most unique business experience you’ve had while traveling?
By far the most unique experience I’ve had was meeting a client in Shenzhen, China. It was the first time I’ve had to communicate via a translator instead of directly with a client. The translator wasn’t articulating the client’s intentions very well – that made the project quite challenging!
What excites you most about the future of design and technology?
I’m keeping a keen eye on the Apple watch and the new possibilities that it and other wearables present for our clients.
Design and technology go hand in hand; the advancement of one affects the other. Plus, it gives creatives like us the chance to play around with a new toy!
To see Mark’s work and learn more about Shellshock, visit shlshk.com.