About me

Whistle while you work

Hello! I'm Dave and I live in California with my wife, Mary, and our dog, Spock.

Let’s be friends?

It’s a standard practice to present myself with some sort of professional label here. But, I struggle with that. Labels are contextual and constantly changing. So I created this ice-breaker card for you to explore a few of those:


Hi, I'm Dave and I'm a type nerd

I'm happiest when I'm meeting new people and doing work that helps others. I’ve been given so much through the kindness of other, and I try to do my best to pay it forward.

My approach is to work hard, be genuine, kind, and enthusiastic, and help others. When I do those, things seem to work themselves out in the end. When I’m going with the grain, things seem to work out better than if I’d planned them myself.

A sunset in upstate New York

A peaceful moment in upstate New York

My priorities

Cottleston Pie

A digital design studio in California. We’ve worked with nonprofits, political campaigns, colleges & universities, national publications, world-renowned cultural institutions, and dozens of other wonderful organizations.

I founded Cottleston Pie in 2012 to create websites and products that help progressive causes get their message in front of the right people, do it more efficiently, and to increase donations. From conception to deployment, Cottleston Pie takes a holistic approach to every project.

We assemble an team tailored specifically to each client. Which means that the project team is custom-fit for your organization’s unique problems, with the best people for the job. We deliver beautiful projects on time & on budget.

You can learn more and hire us here.

Office Hours

Each week, I set aside time for open office hours to chat with people who are new to the design industry.

Let’s talk

The Agency

I founded and run an online community for independent creators. Interested in joining?

Get in touch Warning: direct link to email

A jog across the Queensboro bridge

A jog across the Queensboro bridge

How I got here

Before starting Cottleston Pie, I was the principal designer at Blue State in Manhattan. And in 2019 I took a sabbatical from my design studio to serve as the creative director on the Tom Steyer presidential campaign. While the campaign didn't end the way we'd hoped, I'm incredibly proud of my team, the work we made, and of course Tom.

I've been privileged to work in the progressive space for most of my career, and have been able to create work for dozens of wonderful organizations. A few career highlights are Film at Lincoln Center, ACLU, Partners In Health, The Human Rights Campaign, It Gets Better Project, Harper's Magazine, Film Comment Magazine, Need to Impeach, Yale, New York Institute of Technology, NextGen Climate, Audubon Society, Sundance Film Festival, Surfrider Foundation, and many others.

Cottleston Pie is actively looking for new projects, so please reach out.

Never not moving

I made a promise to myself to never become complacent with work or life. And that has been one of my most important guiding principles. Every day, I try appreciate what's in front of me, and to push myself to always be learning something new.

What I loved about being in college was the opportunity to constantly experiment and to learn. And I've tried to keep that perspective in my daily life.

Right now, I'm actively learning:

  • How to write short stories
  • Meditation (beginners mind!)
  • Surfing
  • How to improve my photography
  • Arduino
  • How to become a good neighbor in a new town during quarantine
A beautiful switchback somewhere in Colorado

A beautiful switchback somewhere in Colorado

A road trip to remember

Both Mary and I work remotely, and we realized that we no longer needed to live in NYC for our jobs. And we were ready for something different. But we weren’t sure where we wanted to move.

So in the spring of 2017, we put all of our stuff in storage and drove out of New York to explore the U.S. Originally planned as a six-month road trip, we ended up traveling for two years, with over 60 stops. Some of the highlights are on Instagram with the #dawsonsontherun hashtag. And the timeline is below.

Austin, Texas
Somewhere in the Florida Panhandle
Lake Tahoe, California
Somewhere in the middle of Idaho
After moving out of NYC
San Francisco, California
Our house in the woods outside of Walla Walla, Washington
Provo, Utah
We got lost in the Colorado Rockies
Colorado in the fall
We made it to Albuquerque for the hot air balloon festival
The high desert of northern Arizona
White Sands, New Mexico
Dry season in California
Our place in Memphis, Tennessee

Finally feeling settled

After not having permanent home for almost three years, we recently settled in Encinitas, California, where we're planning to stay put for a while. It looks like this:

A lovely fence in our neighborhood
Swami's beach
My running path
Ending the day at the beach