Jesse Thomas (graphic designer)

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Jesse Thomas
Jesse Thomas.jpg
Born 1982 (age 35–36)
Residence Washington, D.C.
Education Corcoran College of Art and Design
Occupation Designer and entrepreneur
Years active 2000–present
Known for Founder and CEO of JESS3

Jesse Thomas, a New Zealand-American graphic designer, is the founder and chief executive officer of JESS3, a creative agency specializing in data visualization and social media marketing which he co-founded in 2007 with Leslie Bradshaw.

Early life[edit]

Thomas's family emigrated to the United States from New Zealand in the early 1980s, and he was brought up in Arlington, Virginia. His parents worked for the New Zealand and Australian embassies in Washington, D.C.[1] He developed an early interest in graphic design while experimenting with MS Paint and Adobe Photoshop with his friends.[1][2] While in high school he created his own website, where he published his own photographs, images and videos. He also used the site to display his design skills by creating collages, with custom titles and typography to accompany entries on the website.[1][3]

Career path[edit]

Thomas attended Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C., where he studied digital media design,[4] but left before earning his degree to join a start-up company.[3][4] In 2005, he took on an early freelance client, Busboys and Poets restaurant in Washington, D.C., after pitching his design ideas to the owner. Thomas designed its logo and signage and built its website. .[2][5] Other early freelance and independent design work included artwork for graphic design and art shows, and skateboard designs.[3]

Thomas' first agency role was at Qorvis Communications.[2][5] While at Qorvis, he made industry contacts that led to his next role as art director at Ogilvy & Mather in the 360 Digital Influence team.[2] In May 2007, Thomas left Ogilvy to work at AOL,[6] creating new products in its Experience Prototype Lab team.[1][2][3] He left AOL in December 2007 and, while on a lecture tour of Asia with AIGA, hired two full-time employees to assist him in starting his own company.[2][6]

In February 2013, while vacationing with Alphaboost CEO Matt Monahan, Thomas posted photos and video of Monahan drunk and nude to his personal and company social media accounts. The incident jeopardized acquisition talks that Monahan was involved in.[7][8][9][10][11]


Following his departure from AOL, Thomas founded JESS3 in late 2007 with its current President and COO, Leslie Bradshaw.[6][12][13] The company's name, which Thomas devised while still a student, was inspired by Eminem's use of the numeral "3" as the "e" in his name on album artwork.[14] The firm was conceived as a creative agency, specializing in social media and branding, based around Thomas's web design skills.[2] Subsequently, JESS3 branched out into more general user experience work, and particularly focused on data visualization projects,[4][14] later including Google, Nike, Intel, Microsoft and NASA.[1][6][15] As of 2011, the company employs around 27 individuals full-time, 40 part-time, and works with approximately 300 freelance artists.[12]

For his work with JESS3, Thomas was named a 2011 Tech Titan by the Washingtonian[16] and was featured in Washington Life's 2012 "The Young and the Guest List" list of opinion makers under 40.[17][18] In 2012, he was named one of Inc.'s top 30 entrepreneurs under 30.[19]


Noteworthy projects that JESS3 has undertaken with Thomas's leadership include the NASA website "Buzzroom" that tracks NASA-related tweets, videos and images,[20] the C-SPAN Video Library, which was awarded a Peabody Award in March 2011,[21][22] and the design of The Conversation Prism, an infographic poster produced in partnership with Brian Solis.[23][24] In 2010, he was approached by Facebook to develop the Facebook Stories application.[6][13] Thomas has stated that this application is one of the JESS3 projects that he is "most proud of".[14]

In 2011, in collaboration with Forbes, he conceived and produced a graphic novel based on Steve Jobs' life following his resignation from Apple in the 1980s. The Zen of Steve Jobs, illustrated by JESS3 and published by Forbes, was released in November 2011.[12][25]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Jesse Thomas". Modern DC Business. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Interview With the Entrepreneur". 30 May 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d Lauren LaRocca (22 November 2007). "". Fredericks News Post. Archived from the original on 11 June 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "Common Threads". Communication Arts. 1 March 2011. Archived from the original on 21 January 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Nonick presents Jesse Thomas, Friday's key note speaker". EITB. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Jolie O'Dell (26 July 2010). "Inside the Mind of One of the Web's Hottest Designers [INTERVIEW]". Mashable. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Drunk, Naked AlphaBoost Founder Matt Monahan Is Currently Trying to Sell His Company. Betabeat.
  8. ^ Tech Bros' Google-Sponsored Trip to India Turns Into Naked Beach Romp [UPDATE].
  9. ^ JESS3's Jesse Thomas Issues Apology After Posting Salacious Video From Startup Trip Abroad. InTheCapital (20 February 2013).
  10. ^ "The Daily Dot - Video of drunk, dong-waving CEO sends two startups on a downward spiral". 
  11. ^ "AlphaBoost Is Looking To Be Acquired - Business Insider". 
  12. ^ a b c "Who's Google Gonna Call?". Entrepreneur Bisnow. 11 October 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Kyana Gordon (22 March 2011). "Jesse Thomas of JESS3 discusses inspiration, team players and his future strategy". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c Stephanie Buck (9 December 2011). "What It Takes to Build a Thriving Design Business on the Web". Mashable. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  15. ^ "Jesse Thomas: About Me". Forbes. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  16. ^ Garrett M. Graff (21 April 2011). "Tech Titans 2011". The Washingtonian. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  17. ^ "The Young and the Guest List". Washington Life. February 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2012. [permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Nikki Schwab (3 February 2012). "Young and the Guest List goes business professional". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  19. ^ J.J. McCorvey (2 July 2012). "JESS3 Couple Figures Out the Big Picture". Inc. Magazine. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  20. ^ Meghan Keane (23 July 2010). "Q&A: NASA's Stephanie Schierholz on navigating the frontiers of social media". E-consultancy. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  21. ^ Mike Reynolds (16 September 2010). "ACC Awards Golden Beacon To C-SPAN's Video Library". Multichannel News. NewBay Media, LLC. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  22. ^ "C-SPAN Video Library Wins Peabody Award". C-SPAN. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  23. ^ Bill Lohmann (31 May 2009). "The new networking". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 27 October 2010. [permanent dead link]
  24. ^ Chad Catacchio (13 October 2010). "Brian Solis and JESS3 bring a new Conversation Prism into focus". The Next Web. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  25. ^ Leslie Horn (14 December 2011). "Steve Jobs Gets the Graphic Novel Treatment". Retrieved 7 March 2012. 

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