My name is Chris Nierhaus. I just create stuff.
Like many creative people, expression was encouraged at an early age. My parents allowed me to use their basement as a laboratory for artistic experiments. I was particularly interested in fictional television and movie visual effects, creatures, and plots. I created several life-size sculptures of movie creatures that I figured would be a challenge for me to build. Some included creatures from the movies ‘Gremlins’ and ‘Aliens’. As you could imagine, my parents were quite shocked to discover the seven-foot tall Alien crouching in their basement. My mom refused to do the laundry unless someone went downstairs to turn all the lights on first.
My artistic tendencies were reinforced with the addition of another form of expression; music. Formal piano lessons were introduced at age 6 and piano remained my instrument of choice until my early teens when electronic technology was introduced into my pallet of creative tools. Technology would allow me to add a vast number of different musical instruments electronically to my compositions. This background in music would later provide me with the ability to effectively direct and compose soundtracks for TV shows, videos and promotions, web-based presentations, and training programs.
During high school, I experimented with every media available to me; from pencil, to silk screen, airbrushing, and photography. I eventually landed first place awards in multiple categories at the National Scholastics Competition several years in a row. I was also fortunate enough to be awarded two full-paid scholarships to colleges around the country, and a scholarship to the College for Creative Studies (CCS). Because of the reputation of excellence surrounding CCS, I accepted that scholarship and followed the rigorous programs for both graphic and industrial design.
Initiating Corporate Change
While attending CCS, I accepted an offer to create future GM product concept styling and illustrations for Vehma International, a division of Magna. This move into the automotive engineering environment would eventually lead to the introduction of computer technologies that would change the way that I would express myself creatively. Concept styling lead to the structured world of drafting, which lead to the even more structured world of engineering. I spent several years designing and engineering many of General Motor’s automotive product systems and found the need to create structure to store the math-based data information. My management allowed me to learn HTML, Photoshop, Illustrator, and other software to create systems of communication and structure.
My enthusiasm for combining scripting languages of CAD and Internet technologies eventually placed me in a group at General Motors designed specifically to create, implement, and troubleshoot Intranet and software applications and solutions. Because the of the wide-spread affects that decisions made by the group had on General Motors, I gained extensive knowledge about corporate structure, workflow, and management systems. This role allowed me the opportunity to mentor engineers and direct the production of training courses. Even within this rigid corporate environment, I found an outlet for creativity in the development of Intranet-based interfaces and applications.
A Studio Is Born
In 1996, the need for something more creative lead me to start TinBug Design Studios, a multimedia solutions and consulting business. I soon found myself overwhelmed with work, particularly because the internet was beginning to really become a visible means of communication. My philosophy had been to develop the company not by amount of product output, but by establishing a reputation for creative solutions, quality custom products, and above-and-beyond customer service. TinBug Design Studios has produced a large client portfolio that includes the use of physical art and sculpture, design for printed materials, packaging design, brand identity management, digital media, and web site design.
Adventures In Show Business
One of TinBug’s clients was Greenestuff, Inc., the studio that produces the national television program, ‘My Bedbugs’. Greenestuff was a start-up company when I was asked to come onboard and help start the show. I became the Director of Media Technologies at Greenestuff, Inc. My responsibilities included directing the graphics department, developing animatronics, multimedia and web design and programming, brand design and management, corporate pitch packages and style guides, motion graphics and animation for television productions, character and set design, product package design, point-of-purchase and trade show display design, and virtual prototype mock-ups. All of that effort finally earned me two Telly awards and an Emmy award nomination. This start-up experience would forever change the way I looked at companies. I was officially a start-up junkie.
I will continue to learn new things, evolve, and create. It’s what I love to do.
Oh, and one more thing…
…I’m a Mac guy.