For anyone who doesn’t know me, my name is Mike Wing and I am the hairy gentleman in the photo. Wing Studios has been a part of my life for so long that it’s a little hard to believe how far we’ve come together. I would love to tell you that it was a childhood dream of mine to own my own business but unfortunately this story is not quite as glamorous as that. It’s a half decent love story though!
Growing up I always had an amazing appreciation for the visual arts… Probably because I grew up with very little artistic talent. My mother has always been an outstanding artist and I’ve always wanted to be able to create works of art using my hands but it was never really in the cards.
I was introduced to photography at a young age and at the time it was very unlikely that I would find any kind of success in the field. You see, to a young impatient boy film is a truly torturous artistic medium. It took ruining my first roll of film to learn the valuable lesson that it needs to be developed before anything shows up on it. Then it took a second roll of film to learn that creating art you couldn’t see until the next day (or longer depending on how fast you shot a roll) was a ridiculous hobby for me. Luckily this didn’t hinder my appreciation for the art form. Actually, if anything, it made me appreciate it more.
By the time I was finishing elementary school, digital photography was becoming more and more accessible and it re-sparked my interest in taking up photography as a hobby. I still remember how I ended up getting my first digital camera. I was with my mom shopping for new glasses and there was a promotion going on at the store. “Buy a pair of glasses and get a second pair OR a camera free of charge.” I obviously went with the camera against my mom’s very sound advice to have a backup pair when I inevitably broke the first pair. It was a mail-in rebate and when I wasn’t able to leave with a camera I remember thinking “well this is bullshit!” But unlike my experience with film, I was able to hold out until it came in the mail.
That camera lasted me through high school but after I graduated I was left with quite a bit of free time which was filled with riding my bike all over looking for that next great photo. It wasn’t long before my creativity surpassed what the camera was capable of, so I invested in my first digital SLR. I felt like a real big deal with that camera and that was the moment that Photography really started reeling me in. This was about the same time I started coming to the realization that I needed to go back to school before I ended up working a dead end job my entire life.
I picked up a course guide from the closest college and spent a few hours really studying my options. They all seemed miserable except for one… Graphic design. I wasn’t very clear on what exactly it was or if I would even graduate with any employable skills but it had to do with creativity and computers which was more than any of the other programs had going for them, so I applied.
I remember being in my first class with a comforting feeling that I think is best described by a Donna Paulsen quote from Suits. “You’re weird. We’ll be friends.” And we were. for the first time, I was a good student with great marks and a deep passion for what I was learning. I met some of my closest friends in that program and I even started to love school. There was a good chunk of time that I thought there was something wrong with me.
It was in college that Wing Studios came to be. One of our projects was to brand ourselves as if we were a business. I decided against the typical “Mike Wing Designs” because photography was still a growing passion of mine and I didn’t want to paint myself into the design box so Wing Studios was born. I started operating under that name for small projects that I would get and after a while, it stuck.
I graduated from my program an award-winning designer with my work being featured in a National design magazine. I had a crazy passion for design and a sickening addiction to photography. I was ready to make the world my bitch… The world had other plans. I jumped from job to job in pursuit of my perfect position in a design agency working on inspired design projects and making the world a more beautiful and functional place. That gradually evolved into the pursuit of any job remotely close to my field that paid in actual money. Through all this, I was taking any design and photography project that crossed my path until I finally found it. I finally tracked down the job I was looking for that checked all the boxes. It kept me happy for a while but to my disappointment, that feeling faded which lead me to do something I never thought I would ever do. I left a paying job in my field in pursuit of happiness… And yes… It was as stupid as it sounds.
After I left, I worked retail job after retail job only to have every single one of them either go out of business, close that location or have something happen to make working there seem like being employed by Satin. Yup, I even put an end to one of my jobs before I worked my first day. It was either a curse or some kind of sign that I needed to give Wing Studios a real shot. So I did. I started my business over a year ago and now I get to do what I love every day for the clients that I want to work with and I get to manage it however I see fit.
It’s a strange thing to look back on now but imagine what would have happened if I got the second pair of glasses!