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Sparks resident makes life of graphic design work
by Emily Umphrey — Special to the Tribune
Dec 19, 2013 | 2669 views | 1 1 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michael Ganschow-Green
Michael Ganschow-Green
If you were to meet Michael Ganschow-Green on the street, you might find yourself intimidated by his 6-foot 5-inch, 285-pound bearded mass. If that were the case, however, you would be missing out on a kind, smart individual.

Ganschow-Green was born in Butte, Mont. He lived there for three months before moving mutiple times across the West. His family finally settled in Sparks in 1993 where it still calls home today.

He bounced around between a couple of elementary schools and then enrolled at Sparks Middle School. Finding that Sparks Middle wasn’t quite a good fit for him, at 14 years old Ganschow-Green took the SAT’s, intent on starting college, and scored a 1270. He had taken the entrance exams for TMCC and been accepted.

“I was going to drop out of (middle) school and go to Community College to get a Bachelors. My parents basically said Give high school a try. For us, give high school a try and so I did.”

Deciding to give high school a shot, Ganschow-Green went to Reed High School.

“And I found that a much better experience. I got into Reed’s NJROTC program mostly because my father was a Marine ... We got to shoot guns and go to the Naval bases and got to experience the military lifestyle. It was really good times. I was Senior Chief by the end of it. I was the number four or five guy in the whole program by the end of it.”

Ganschow-Green evetually attended TMCC high school for the last two years of his high school, even getting awarded “Most Improved Student” for all of Washoe County for improving his grade-point average exponentially and he gave the speech at his high school graduation.

For college he then went to TMCC because he was already enrolled. He got in with the graphics program after having taken a graphics class in the summer between his junior and senior years.

“I was a hobby drawer and I figured I could use my art skills and I don’t have to be a starving artist. ‘Cause I had looked at being an artist professionally, and I looked at the lifestyle. It was like scrambling for gallery openings and living on peanuts until you are the one in a million who hits it big and I thought, ‘I don’t have the work ethic for this right now.’”

He had found that being a graphic designer suited him so, while he didn’t take another graphics class while in high school, he began taking the classes for college.

He was offered a slot as an instructional aide in 2001, two years after he had started college.

“Basically I got a chance to do my homework and get paid for it,” he says.

Ganschow-Green could have graduated in 2001, having more than enough credits to graduate. Instead, however, he opted to stay in school.

“I never bothered graduating,” he said. “I finished the program except for Portfolio in 2001, I took my portfolio class in 2003 but I never bothered graduating because by this point I was freelancing web design and I needed a base level of income while I was getting my freelance company started and the labs were a nice base level of income ... a few hundred dollars a month as (a) floor so I didn’t bother graduating to stay in as an IA (instructional advisor).”

As his freelancing business took off, the head of the graphics program at the time offered him a full instructional slot in the fall of 2006. It would mean a pay raise and was less work than the labs he was currently teaching.

He formally graduated the program after he got his office job. He received his degree in Graphic Design and a degree in transfer, which means he can transfer to any university straight out of TMCC and pick it up as a junior anywhere.

He still teaches one class a semester at TMCC like web design or photoshop classes, but he is also a full time graphic design artist, working with many clients from local small businesses to bigger Fortune 500 or Fortune 100 businesses.

In the mid 2000’s he folded his business, deciding instead that he wanted a job he could leave at work when he went home. A friend of his got him a graphic design job with the company he still works for today. At the time it was called Intraform, now it is called Swag- Blue Moon.

“For a while, we were doing billable hours and then they hired us on part time and they hired us on full time,” Ganschow-Green said. “Well, ‘A,’ I didn’t have the time to keep running my business, and ‘B,’ I was making every bit as much money as I was running my business ... I’m not the greatest sales guy. I don’t want to be out 24/7 hustling my business so I liked working for someone else and not having that kind of overhead and not having that kind of home office where I’m never not at work.”

He designs everything from websites to promotional products, and all of the air-race shirts displayed every year are designed by one of the four designers on staff, including Ganschow-Green himself.

When he’s not working or teaching, Ganschow-Green can be found with his friends, hiking or reading.

“I’m fairly quiet,” he said. “I’d be the guy smoking a pipe in the easy chair looking at his iPad. That’s me.”

Michael Ganschow-Green’s Favorites:

Book: Alas Babylon by Pat Frank

Play: Avenue Q

Band: Nirvana

Color: Blue

Movie: Bladerunner
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Michael G.G.
December 19, 2013
Hah! It's neat to see yourself profiled in the paper. Can't say as it's ever happened to me before. They even picked a good photo. Makes me look mysterious (which is difficult). Good work!

Also "6-foot 5-inch, 285-pound bearded mass" is about the best description ever.

A couple of quick corrections for the record:

- My maternal GRAND-father was the Marine (WWII and Korea), my dad is a geologist who heavily influenced my love of the outdoors.

- The company is spelled SWAG | Blue Moon. Go to if you want to learn more.

-Michael Ganschow-Green
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