I’m just a guy trying to do the best I can with what I’ve got.
If you want to know the story, here it is.
It took a surprisingly long time for me (it feels like) to come to lettering. I love drawing. I’ve drawn since I can remember. I’ve always considered myself an artist.
I’ve also always loved books, words, and letters. As a kid (and to this day) I appreciated books not just for what they contained but for objects in themselves. The Latin alphabet was always a thing of beauty to me. In kindergarten I was in a shared classroom with a higher grade, and up around the perimeter of the room was the alphabet in classic Zaner Bloser cursive. I was so intrigued by it I taught myself cursive.
After getting a fine art degree (doing abstract paintings meant to provoke discussion about spirituality and social justice) and a design degree, I worked at a printer doing prepress and design for every random business that needed something printed. When my son was born I quit to be a stay-at-home dad, but still did design work in my “free time” for businesses in the area. In Newberg, Oregon, “area businesses” often means wineries.
I had been trying to get more business by putting stuff online, but I was all over the place—Design! Illustration! Fine art! Meanwhile, the hand lettering craze was moving into high gear. I noticed this hand lettering thing and thought, “That looks great!” Drawing letters! What a concept! I picked it up and started learning and enjoying lettering. My website changed—Design! Art! Letters! But it was still just too broad. If you say you do everything, no one wants you for anything. Jack of all trades, master of none.
When both of my kids got toward the age when they would both be in school full time, I knew I needed to pick a direction for my career. The work you project is the work you get more of, so I wanted to make sure I chose what I wanted to do and project that. I needed to pick a focus. Lettering was my latest thing, but was it what I wanted? It married my love of letters and my love of drawing. It hit the sweet spot. But by then it seemed like everyone was a hand letterer. I needed something to differentiate.
I’d been working in the wine industry for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I love the wine industry. The people who make wine are, by and large, awesome people to work with. They love what they do. If you’re in wine you have to be seriously passionate, because the margins generally aren’t there. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t earn a living working for wineries, I’m sure I could. But if I’m only showing my wine labels, I’m going to get more work from that industry. When I ask myself whether I want to be known for doing wine labels, it doesn’t set right. It just doesn’t strike that chord in me that fulfills the need to do something for the world, to do something for those in greatest need.
To what end?
I want my work to promote something good, unambiguously. You can do good things with wine (like the northern Willamette Valley ¡Salud! wine auction to give migrant workers for area vineyards access to healthcare), but the consistent benefits of wine to society are arguable. If my work had a consistent message, a single thread running through it that undergirded everything I did, then I could rest in the knowledge that I was consistently moving the world toward a better place.
As a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), I have a strong draw towards the work of peace. I believe that as a follower of Jesus I am called to be a peacemaker. I interpret the Christian scriptures to be promoting social justice and tangible good in the world we inhabit. Peace to me is an active state. Making peace means working toward reconciliation, toward understanding, toward equality, justice, mercy, forgiveness. Peace comes about in loving my neighbors, here and around the world, in whatever ways I can. Our world desperately needs peace.
Frederick Buechner said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” It took some work to finally put together my joy of lettering with something that meets the world’s need.
I believe that peace can only be achieved when we we actively work to learn from, understand, and lift up those who are neglected and oppressed. As a person with (relative) power, privilege and influence, I can use my power, privilege, and influence to give a platform and a voice to those who need to be heard, with the goal of connecting that message to the people who need to hear it.
My mission is to make letterforms with messages of peace, through projects that lead to peace, and through supporting organizations and entities that promote peace.
Letter forms are a vehicle for messages, and they themselves speak. Letter forms can add to and amplify the messages they convey.
I work to give a visual voice to others who are promoting peace. I also work to give a visual voice to the voiceless, to those whose stories need to be told and heard.
The purpose of my work is to promote peace in the world. By creating self-initiated messages of peace and social justice I can always be promoting peace in some way. By taking on clients whose work promotes peace I can build and sustain my business while simultaneously promoting those who promote peace. By creating tools for others to use to find their voice, I can promote peace through empowering storytelling and dialogue.
These are my aims, my hopes anyway. This is why I started Quaker Creative. What exactly that will look like, I’m honestly still learning. But then, most of us are. And there’s no time like the present to start working toward a better world.