Jason Farnan ’03 (graphic design) performs a rather unconventional instrument in front of thousands of people.
Farnan, known on stage as Lt. Facemelter, is a decorated air guitarist. In 2013, he placed first in the U.S. Air Guitar Championships and fifth in the Air Guitar World Championships.
Earlier this year, he traveled back to Oulu, Finland, for the world championships and placed fifth for the second time in his air guitar career.
“It’s fun to take being silly so seriously,” said Farnan, who picked up the hobby a decade ago. “You’re not just playing an invisible instrument, you’re entertaining the crowd. You’re giving them the greatest show they’ve never seen.”
After watching Air Guitar Nation, a movie about how competitive air guitar came to the United States, Farnan became a performer seemingly on a whim.
“When I was buying tickets to a local air guitar show, I saw that for an extra $2 I could perform instead of just watch,” said Farnan. “I asked my wife if I should try it and she said, ‘yes,’ so I signed up.”
Since then, Farnan has been highly involved with the air guitar community. He has performed in 18 competitions as well as helped run competitions at both local and national levels.
Farnan moved to San Diego, Calif., in 2005 to work as a web designer for a friend’s company. Since moving to San Diego, Farnan has worked for SMS.ac, Geary Interactive and PacketVideo.
Now, Farnan is a user experience design manager at Tandem Diabetes Care. He works specifically with insulin pump software design improving usability, accessibility and user satisfaction.
Even at work, Farnan encourages people to get involved with his hobby.
“I don’t hide my air guitar from anyone. I’ve actually performed in my office before,” said Farnan. “It’s integrated into my life and who I am.”
Both on and off stage, Farnan uses air guitar as a creative outlet.
“I design trading cards for air guitar performers kind of like baseball cards. When I need to take a break from my real job and life responsibilities, I’ll spend time working on that,” said Farnan. “Even if it’s not a performance, it’s still a creative outlet that gives me a break from real life.”
Although life and family responsibilities require him to step out of the limelight, Farnan said the memories and friendships he made in the air guitar community will always be with him.
“At one point in my life, I can say I was the best in the country at something. It’s even more cool that I was the best at playing an invisible instrument.”
Farnan always has fun with his performances. The video linked below is footage from his performance at the 2018 Air Guitar World Championships. Video by the Air Guitar World Championships.
Note: Video available for this story