TPC Alumni, Computer Software/Hardware
By Kayla Konway
“I’m a creative person but wasn’t quite as artistically talented as the students in Communication Art or Visual Communication,” Brion Eriksen admits.
Brion Eriksen learned early on that he wanted to be part of a field that would allow him to design as well as write. The technical communication professional has allowed Brion to design, illustrate, and write.
When Brion was in high school, his drafting instructor pointed him in the direction of technical illustration. After high school, Brion attended Ferris State University and received a bachelor’s degree in Technical Communication in 1991. Brion’s decision to join the Technical and Professional Communication program, however, was not a sudden decision. During his first semester at FSU, he was enrolled in the Commercial Art and Visual Communication program. Brion said that, after moving into the TPC program, he felt he had “found his niche.”
While attending FSU, Brion completed internships with two organizations once a part of Ferris: The Lifelong Learning office and the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute. The internships allowed him to design brochures as well as proof-reading copies.
Technical Marketing, Inc. in Grand Haven, Michigan, was Brion’s first employer after graduating from college. At Technical Marketing, he created technical manuals, guides, and catalogs for major furniture companies. After two years at Technical Marketing, Brion moved into a position at X-Rite in Grandville, Michigan, (now located in Kentwood) for an additional two years.
While working at X-Rite, Brion “freelanced” as a creative writer with the marketing department, as well as taking part in illustration and desktop publishing design.
From 1996 to 1999, Brion was part of a small software company called CCMS in Wyoming, Michigan. CCMS had Brion create their first web site around 1998. He then received stock options from CCMS.
With the stock options, Brion started his own business, Elexicon, in late 1999. As the owner, he continues to play a role as the main strategist for major projects and gets involved in information architecture. Brion speaks with clients daily; his team members do as well.
Being a web designer, Brion and his firm uses many programs, including the Adobe CS products, Flash, Dreamweaver, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. Elexicon’s developers use Microsoft.net programming tools and have access with ExpressionEngine for building blog-based sites.
“Well, my ‘career’ has morphed into the role of a business owner of Elexicon, so that brings about the best and worst,” Brion says.
The worst for Brion was overcoming all of the financial stress, which took a toll on him, his family, and his creativity. In turn, the best was the excitement and fulfillment of surviving all of the troubles and owning an established, well-recognized, interactive agency.
Brion offers some advice for future technical writers. He recommends having a good understanding of how to write instructional and technical copy. In addition, Brion says students need to establish skills in HTML, cascading style sheets, Flash, and InDesign as well as learning about content management systems.
Brion strongly argues that the combination of Search Engine Optimization and an understanding of content management systems could be a big advantage.
Brion sums up his advice by stating, “Overall, stay skills-diverse and keep your eyes open for opportunities within an organization. When you get there in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”