I've heard that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at something. When you do the math, that's only 5 years, which seems awfully short to me. I think around year 5, you finally become decent at it. Then you spend the next 5 years trying to master it. And after that, you're trying to stay relevant or ahead of the pack. I've been a graphic designer for 35 years, and honestly, I didn't feel like I had a good grounding until about 15 years in.

In that time, I've worked for corporations, large agencies and small design studios. I’ve also been an adjunct professor of graphic design at CCA, teaching for 14 years. And, I’ve had my own solo design practice since 2006.

Do I feel like a master now? Sometimes. Most days, I feel like I still have so much more to learn.

So the question you're asking yourself is: Can I handle your project? Well, from a design and project management standpoint, I know I can. And, if we need to create a team around your project, we can do that too. Ultimately though, it's about how we fit working together. And the best way to find that out is give me a call and let's talk!

Landline: 1-510-669-9916

Email: info@kerntoystudio.com

Speaking and Teaching:

  • CCA Senior Adjunct Professor of Graphic Design. 1999-2013.
  • Academy of Art University. Guest Lecturer. 2004-2011
  • Adobe MAX Conference. 2012.

Agencies I've worked at:

  • Pentagram
  • Primo Angeli
  • Enterprise IG
  • Alterpop
  • H.L. Chu
Design Hours = 35 yrs!
Cups of Coffee @ 2 cups / day
Comic Books Collected

Sort of Interesting Personal Details

Here are a few personal details about me.

  • I was born in San Francisco's Chinatown and grew up in the projects there. I didn't leave the 12 square block boundary of Chinatown until middle school. Growing up in Chinatown is not as cool as some people think it is.
  • I learned to speak English when I got to kindergarten. My 1st speaking language is Cantonese. Sadly, I've lost most of it and it's now limited to "Restaurant Cantonese".
  • My name really is Kern. I didn't change it when I became a graphic designer. Since I didn't speak English, when I registered for grade school, they assigned me an Americanized name. They gave me a few options and I chose Kern because it's the closest sounding to my given Chinese name. () So right now, there are some other guys in my class also named Kern floating around.
  • BTW, if you don't know this, kern is a verb that has to do with adjusting the spaces between letters. It's a graphic design verb! I've always thought that was a very cool fact. Like it was meant to be that I would become a graphic designer.
  • I met one of my future college professors when I was 12 or 13 through a middle school teacher when I was at a dangerous "fork in the road" in my life. There's a great story here, ask me.
  • I got my 1st graphic design internship at a high profile design studio when I was 17 through a church volleyball game! Also another great story.
Kern Toy
Kern ToyPrincipal / Creative Director
Not the best pic, but at least I have a dress shirt on. I'll put one on for meetings, but mostly, it's the "home" uniform. Miso Snarky.
Graphic Designer 100%
Tech Geek 85%
Smartass 92%

I Love Manga & Comics!

Ultraman and the Ultra Brothers was one of the first manga/comic book things I gravitated towards as a kid. I fell in love with the artwork and wanted to spend all day every day drawing. It's what led me to graphic design. Nowadays, I don't collect manga or comics as much, but I've never lost that sense of wonder and awe and I try to bring that to all the projects I work on. Let's build something cool together!

To M78 and Beyond!