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There’s an app for that

Published March 13, 2016 in Trinity University’ Alumni Magazine

Art major turned software designer finds numerous outlets for creative expression and exploration

Hunter Cross ’03, B.A. art

         How does he do it? And with only 24 hours in a day? We’re talking about Hunter Cross, musician, artist, writer, producer, software designer, programmer, product designer, and budding beekeeper.  Among other things.

            Let’s start with the basics. Hunter grew up in Austin, Texas, where he had “a pretty decent band for a while.” Influenced by his parents’ idyllic description of their own small, liberal arts college experience (Austin College) and the desire to stay close to his music friends, Hunter says “Trinity seemed like a smart choice.” And so it was.

            “It was so interesting to attend Trinity while the Internet ideas and businesses that seem commonplace today were being prototyped,” he says.  “I remember being so excited to have wired Ethernet.”  An art major, who had never taken art in high school and had a “very low understanding of what a contemporary artist’s role could be and what form that engagement with society could take,” Hunter found Trinity’s art/art history department an “amazingly empathetic and rigorous critical environment that I just fell in love with.” He cites professors Liz Ward and Trish Simonite for being very helpful as mentors and  pointing him to many interesting cultural ideas. “I am forever in their debt,” he says. Among Hunter’s memorable experiences, listening to professor Charles Talbot “describing sexual truths and historical backdrop encoded into a Renaissance painting ” ranks among the top.

            Hunter remembers San Antonio as a “huge cultural swirl of First Fridays, Finesilver, and ArtPace” and exuberantly embraced the opportunities Trinity offered. He loved being able to use analog synthesizers in the music department as part of a music composition class where he built a computer poetry generator in C. “It barely worked,” he laughs,  “but in fact, some of the stuff it wrote was actually kind of great.” As an art major he also loved being able to take a computer science course and  is pleased that his courses on world religions and Middle East history still provide “interesting points of reference in everyday life.” 

            After graduation, Hunter spent a year working with REALbasic, a software company, before venturing out as a solo Web developer, finding jobs through Craigslist.  As his client’s projects grew in scale, he founded Ponticlaro, Inc., an independent software consultancy, in 2016, and bootstrapped his way up without any outside investment.  Based in New York, the firm’s clients include World Wildlife Fund, Columbia University, Pentagram Design, and Helmut Lang, along with other clients across the country. In one recent project, he helped produce a Yoko Ono digital artwork with custom iPad software for The Contemporary Austin—the city’s contemporary art museum. 

In addition to the fact that his company has helped so many organizations interact with their audiences online, Hunter is proud of how his Geode, 2014 turned out and how much it means to the Austin development where it is sited. His first public commission and the product of five years work with the city, Geode, 2014 turns on every night around dusk and pulses throughout the night. “One kid told me it reminded him of the save point on a video game, and I thought ‘he gets it.’”   

            While Hunter plans to continue working with his team at Ponticlaro, he foresees lots of avenues  still to explore. For starters: learning about script writing and film production; applying for more public art commissions; spending more time in Japan, Switzerland, Italy, and Sardinia; seeing SNL live; and writing for SNL. He’d also like to serve on an “effective” Board of Directors to learn more about organizational leadership and is “very hopeful that by this time next year I’ll have my beehive buzzing.”

You can contact Hunter at hunter@huntercross.com