As a child my father owned a tshirt printing business. The small shop on the South-side of Chicago (and later in Whiting) hand-printed T-shirt’s and did iron-on transfers and lettering for local bars, organizations and companies. And at a young age I was left in the shop with the one employee my dad always had, Ken. My dad would go out and get business and Ken would produce the shirts. This was pre-computer days. This was 1980s tshirt production at its finest. Without knowing it, I was exposed to typography, design and production, attention to detail, customer service and deadlines. Without knowing it - Ken was exposing me to a world that would eventually become my career. Ken eventually evolved into my babysitter, teacher, and one of the key male figures in my life. Ken was gay and at a young age I learned exceptance. He was a fine artist and his sketches were some of the first sketches I’d ever seen. He worked in the shop all day and at night he would watch my sisters-in-law I, he’d make us dinner and made sure we were safe. I never knew him to have a social life, he worked all day and then took care of us at night. I look back over all the teachers and professors I had and the mentors and role models - but my foundation in the arts was built on what Ken taught me.
I remember being in college and showing Ken how easy it was to set type on a curve in Illustrator. He was a amazed. I can remember watching him cut out black acetate letters and pasting them together by hand on a homemade light box...one letter at a time with a ruler, pencil and tape.
Ken had a brain aneurysm and was hospitalized. I was in my twenties and never went to see him because I was to scared to see him that way. But after a couple days he died.
One of my biggest regrets is never telling Ken thank you. And after being in the creative field for a little less than two decades I wish I could tell him thank you.
This past week I was promoted from senior art director to Creative Director of WeCreate Media. I’ve been with the agency for a little more than a year and a half and have been blessed to work with amazingly talented, kind and supportive people. My two bosses have been there for me and my family personally and professionally, they have watched me fail and have celebrated many victories. So when they called me into the back room of our office to give me the news of the promotion, the first thing that popped into my mind was ...thanks Ken.
A special thanks to my wife and kids and all the people that believe in me when I didn’t believe in myself, thank you. From my mentors and educators friends and family, thank you. I stand on the shoulders of giants and I am who I am because of all of you.
Visit us at www.wecreatemedia.com.