Going 15 miles per hour in a cramped parking lot, Julian Weisensel slammed on the brakes of his motorcycle and flew over the handlebars, crashing onto the asphalt right in front of his motorcycle safety instructor.
“Pick up the bike!” another instructor screamed from across the parking lot. His dream of getting a classic motorcycle was not off to the best start. However, there was one good thing.
“I felt like Superman,” he said, laughing.
Motorcycle enthusiast Weisensel works as the graphic designer for Wolverine Wellness within University Health Service. He began his path to U-M one city away at Eastern Michigan University. He originally studied computer science, but it wasn’t creative enough for him, and after considering studying art, he decided on the more marketable path of graphic design.
Once he graduated, he found a job at Direct Incorporation in Ann Arbor providing design solutions for newly incorporated businesses. While he liked being able to develop many different brands, his position became more of a supervisory role and he wanted to grow more as a designer. This, and the ability to work for something he truly believes in, drew him to applying for the graphic designer position at Wolverine Wellness. He likes the environment and how many of his colleagues are dedicated to social justice and find their work meaningful.
Also, he said, Michigan is just a nice place to work.
“(The university) is definitely an organization that takes pride in the work it does and how it values its employees,” he said.
His responsibilities at UHS change day to day. He fills the information and brochure racks throughout the building, works closely with team members on varying designs, and overall helps colleagues realize their projects. Anyone in UHS can request design work, so he sets up meetings, focus groups, and review sessions to get the proposed designs approved for use.
He sometimes works with other campus organizations, too. His favorite project so far was working with the student organization Pulse, which organized the 7 Days of Wellness. The idea was to celebrate and inform students about the eight dimensions of wellness over the course of one week. While the event itself was not as successful as they had hoped, he enjoyed the project because he got to help students turn ideas into reality.
“(The students) always have really great ideas, they’re always really passionate about what they’re doing,” he said.
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While he was inspired by the students’ passion for the project, outside of work he is just as passionate for classic motorcycles. He loves the minimalist design of older bikes and appreciates the custom café racer style. These bikes are simpler than modern motorcycles, while they require more upkeep because of their age. He said the sense of tender love and care that he needs to keep the bike running just adds to the appeal because it makes the bike more his own.
His first chance to own one of the coveted bikes was when he found a 1978 Honda CB750 online. While he haggled the price down to $1,000, his then-girlfriend protested because she has seen first-hand the results from vehicle accidents during her job performing psychometric testing for U-M Health System. However, they agreed that because it was a dream and he was going to get one eventually, he could get one once they were married.
The couple married Oct. 3, 2015, and he brought home a 1971 Honda CB350 on Oct. 18, just 15 days later.
While the bike is put away for the winter, he still nurtures his passion for graphic design. “I make dreams come true,” he said of his work with a playful smile.