Meet Anderson’s Entrepreneurs

Why is Anderson listed as one of Indiana’s most exciting cities? According to Business Insider, Anderson is right up there with Carmel and Indianapolis. This buzz is the result of a lot of people doing interesting things in Anderson. Vesuvius Coworking will be able to connect people to Anderson’s possibilities and thriving entrepreneurial community. However, our entrepreneurs are a well-kept secret. Vesuvius Coworking is proud to share their stories with the community.  They all share a little bit of their life, advice, and what they’d like to see next in Anderson.  Listen up Innovators, they’re telling you where to build your next business, excellent market research.

Where everybody will soon know your name

By Lindsey Barton

Jerrad Oakley started calling Anderson home in 2016, and just before Christmas called it home to the Oakley Brothers Distillery. Jerrad and Jason are not native Hoosiers, and so of course the first question is Why Anderson? “Anderson found us.  I was in South Carolina and my brother was in Noblesville.  We were looking for a small cheap building because you have to set up before you can get a permit.  So we found something in Edgewood.  We did that and go to know the community.  This place has legs.  Once we got to know it, it’s a no brainer- it’s an emerging market. “    They’ve poured their sweat, and quite a bit of cash,  in bringing the old building they are located in on W 8th street back to life.

 

Where everybody will soon know your name

By Lindsey Barton

Jerrad Oakley started calling Anderson home in 2016, and just before Christmas called it home to the Oakley Brothers Distillery. Jerrad and Jason are not native Hoosiers, and so of course the first question is Why Anderson? “Anderson found us.  I was in South Carolina and my brother was in Noblesville.  We were looking for a small cheap building because you have to set up before you can get a permit.  So we found something in Edgewood.  We did that and go to know the community.  This place has legs.  Once we got to know it, it’s a no brainer- it’s an emerging market. “    They’ve poured their sweat, and quite a bit of cash,  in bringing the old building they are located in on W 8th street back to life.

As an entrepreneur, the distillery is not Jerrad’s only enterprise.  He has an appliance repair business located both in Noblesville and in South Carolina, Appliance Rescue.  Not always an entrepreneur, he made the leap from corporate America about six years ago. He said, “ Corporate life really ground on me. I thought, I’ve been selling everyone else’s stuff, I’ll sell my own.  It’s not any simpler.  It’s a better fit, but nothing simple.”   Jerrad shares that he “started appliance rescue in the back of my girlfriend’s hatchback with tools and overalls.  I found a gap in the market and found a good opportunity, I did not have a burning desire to repair appliances.  But it was a means to an end. It was an opportunity…I do have a passion for killer spirits.”

His passion for killer spirits has been brought to life here in Anderson. “The city has been really good to us. They’ve done everything they can to help us out.  They gave us a small loan and got us a grant.  We went straight to economic development team when we needed help at every step of the way.”  He also believes in the potential of Anderson, “  A phenomonal investment.  Anderson is ON IT’s WAY.  It’s unbelievable.  The River, disc golf, bike paths, beautiful architecture.  It’s just a cool place.”  The building they have restored is beyond cool.  The distillery is behind glass garage doors so you can see what’s happening from the moment you step inside.  The hospitality and bar area has specific nods to the history of the building.  An old tire track, from when the building was a car dealship- original ceilings and floors.  The place oozes quality and thought has been put into every detail of this boutique distillery where good times are surely to come.

Jerrad knows that the success of their business will be the work of many.  While his team is not totally rounded out yet he told me he’s “going to master it myself and with the help of trusted colleagues, I’ll find 5 people and 1 will work.  I’m not afraid of work, I’m not afraid to work hard.  If you can find someone who needs help, I can build someone up instead of having someone who is already there.  Finding a team to build and giving them skills.  Help someone master a passion.”  He also goes on to explain that for entrepreneurs, “you have to surround yourself with a good team.  You can never do any of this alone.  If you’re bad at numbers, get a good accountant.  If you’re a bad administrator, get a good administrator.  If you’re not good at talking to people get someone.  Don’t be greedy, get a team.  If you’re an island, you loose grip.”

At the time of this interview a few big things were happening, which left Jerrad totally unfazed- they were opening to sell spirits in 2 days by the bottle, and his wife was expecting their daughter on the same day.  Jerrad has definitely followed his own advice, “never be afraid, don’t second guess yourself.  Just go out and do it.  Don’t let fear of failure, fear of money, fear of anything stop you.  Just get started. Be fearless.”

As an entrepreneur, the distillery is not Jerrad’s only enterprise.  He has an appliance repair business located both in Noblesville and in South Carolina, Appliance Rescue.  Not always an entrepreneur, he made the leap from corporate America about six years ago. He said, “ Corporate life really ground on me. I thought, I’ve been selling everyone else’s stuff, I’ll sell my own.  It’s not any simpler.  It’s a better fit, but nothing simple.”   Jerrad shares that he “started appliance rescue in the back of my girlfriend’s hatchback with tools and overalls.  I found a gap in the market and found a good opportunity, I did not have a burning desire to repair appliances.  But it was a means to an end. It was an opportunity…I do have a passion for killer spirits.”

His passion for killer spirits has been brought to life here in Anderson. “The city has been really good to us. They’ve done everything they can to help us out.  They gave us a small loan and got us a grant.  We went straight to economic development team when we needed help at every step of the way.”  He also believes in the potential of Anderson, “  A phenomonal investment.  Anderson is ON IT’s WAY.  It’s unbelievable.  The River, disc golf, bike paths, beautiful architecture.  It’s just a cool place.”  The building they have restored is beyond cool.  The distillery is behind glass garage doors so you can see what’s happening from the moment you step inside.  The hospitality and bar area has specific nods to the history of the building.  An old tire track, from when the building was a car dealship- original ceilings and floors.  The place oozes quality and thought has been put into every detail of this boutique distillery where good times are surely to come.

Jerrad knows that the success of their business will be the work of many.  While his team is not totally rounded out yet he told me he’s “going to master it myself and with the help of trusted colleagues, I’ll find 5 people and 1 will work.  I’m not afraid of work, I’m not afraid to work hard.  If you can find someone who needs help, I can build someone up instead of having someone who is already there.  Finding a team to build and giving them skills.  Help someone master a passion.”  He also goes on to explain that for entrepreneurs, “you have to surround yourself with a good team.  You can never do any of this alone.  If you’re bad at numbers, get a good accountant.  If you’re a bad administrator, get a good administrator.  If you’re not good at talking to people get someone.  Don’t be greedy, get a team.  If you’re an island, you loose grip.”

At the time of this interview a few big things were happening, which left Jerrad totally unfazed- they were opening to sell spirits in 2 days by the bottle, and his wife was expecting their daughter on the same day.  Jerrad has definitely followed his own advice, “never be afraid, don’t second guess yourself.  Just go out and do it.  Don’t let fear of failure, fear of money, fear of anything stop you.  Just get started. Be fearless.”

Entrepreneur: Cindy Dunston-Quirk                

Location: Anderson, IN

Business: Scout and Zoe’s

Age: 8 years (I believe in dog years, 56)

Product: High end treats for animals with allergies or eating issues

Funding to start: nothing set aside, started while freelancing.  Loans by Bankable.

Best Advice: Dream big- the sky’s the limit.  Don’t set a limit for yourself.

Advice for Anderson: People need to look to the future and not stay rooted to the past.  We need infrastructure to foster a community spirit that forges the entrepreneurial soul.  A co-working space would be a great small first step because it can breed that spirit and camaraderie. It’s like a Cheers for entrepreneurs.  A place where everyone understands.  As an entrepreneur you’re an island, and it’s a difficult thing.  Right now there is not a connected support group. Also, independent restaurants or specialty grocery- no more chains!

 

 

Entrepreneur: Cindy Dunston-Quirk                

Location: Anderson, IN

Business: Scout and Zoe’s

Age: 8 years (I believe in dog years, 56)

Product: High end treats for animals with allergies or eating issues

Funding to start: nothing set aside, started while freelancing.  Loans by Bankable.

Best Advice: Dream big- the sky’s the limit.  Don’t set a limit for yourself.

Advice for Anderson: People need to look to the future and not stay rooted to the past.  We need infrastructure to foster a community spirit that forges the entrepreneurial soul.  A co-working space would be a great small first step because it can breed that spirit and camaraderie. It’s like a Cheers for entrepreneurs.  A place where everyone understands.  As an entrepreneur you’re an island, and it’s a difficult thing.  Right now there is not a connected support group. Also, independent restaurants or specialty grocery- no more chains!

 

A Morning at Scout and Zoe

By Lindsey Barton

Pulling into the parking lot, I admired the giant graphics covering the windows at Scout and Zoe’s retail style location. Very well done, very catchy.   I peeked through the window into an unassuming storefront to see two giant dogs following a slight figure around a warehouse style setup.  Knocking softly, I watched for a few moments as they went about their business.  It’s a big warehouse, so no one heard me.  The two dogs played behind the footsteps of their owner, who was clearly moving with purpose.  I knocked louder, because it was very cold outside.  The two dogs leapt to attention and bounded to the front door, barking loudly.  The door opened,  and I was immediately taken with the energy of the figure, who I now recognized as Cindy Dunston-Quirk, the founder of Scout and Zoe.

Cindy was bundled up, but radiated purpose and energy. She immediately introduced her pups, and these giant beasts wiggled with pleasure as we made friends.  It wasn’t much warmer inside- because as she pointed out, it’s better for the product shelf life to stay cool.  As we walked back to a small meeting area, I admired the order in the space.  It was clear there was a place for everything, and everything in its place.  Taped out squares of different colors, and shelving in the center were immediate clues- this woman means business.

Cindy touts that she solves a problem with her business and loves her dogs as people. She solved a problem for her people, and has made a living doing it.  As we chatted, she expounded for me. Every leap or change has come about as a solution to a problem. Her business started when she complained to her vet about Zoe’s allergies and not having treats anywhere on the market.  He replied, “ you’re smart, why don’t you invent something?”  She agreed and got started. This start sparked a now 8 year old business.  It took her 14 days to make it happen.  A countdown from the idea to having a marketable product.  When Cindy puts her mind to it, the focus is laser sharp. Scout and Zoe was born with it’s first product of elk antlers, sourced locally & cut in her garage.

The next phase of growth?  Getting out of the garage, because the cutting of the antlers almost left her husband 2 fingers short.  Cindy began outsourcing in a big way with production and packaging. This led her down a path to finding ways to help the community, as well as growing her business.   Cindy found relationships for packing and processing to help fund other non-profits such as the Hopewell Center in Anderson. Her business has grown from elk antlers to 64 different products.

When asked if she would go back to change anything about her experience, she replied confidently “I wouldn’t have changed a thing.   I’ve always believed ‘timing is everything.  When the student is ready the teacher arrives.’ I have a huge personality- I’ve been fired from almost every job I have.  I find different ways to do things, look at things that challenge the status quo.  While some of those experiences were extremely personal and traumatic- it has led me to where I am.  It was incredibly enlightening to have all those experiences.  If I went out in the workforce, I probably couldn’t find a job because my resume is so disjointed.  Now when you look at it, it looks like an incredible recipe for success.”

Her sales background has helped her products become well known outside of Anderson.   Not many people in Anderson know of her company’s existence.  However, Anderson has been very accommodating to her success.  Low cost of housing the business, microloans available from Bankable at pivotal times have all been a part of keeping the company going and growing.   As her business continues to grow here in Anderson, she hopes to be able to have Scout and Zoe employees in the warehouse so she can go out to do what she does best- sell to outside clients.    When asked what her next steps would be- “ So many things.  Growth, new products, employees. If we’re talking big, I’d love to have our own Scout and Zoe processing plant, a huge undertaking.”    She continues to follow her own advice, and dream big, never set a limit.

 

 

A Morning at Scout and Zoe

By Lindsey Barton

Pulling into the parking lot, I admired the giant graphics covering the windows at Scout and Zoe’s retail style location. Very well done, very catchy.   I peeked through the window into an unassuming storefront to see two giant dogs following a slight figure around a warehouse style setup.  Knocking softly, I watched for a few moments as they went about their business.  It’s a big warehouse, so no one heard me.  The two dogs played behind the footsteps of their owner, who was clearly moving with purpose.  I knocked louder, because it was very cold outside.  The two dogs leapt to attention and bounded to the front door, barking loudly.  The door opened,  and I was immediately taken with the energy of the figure, who I now recognized as Cindy Dunston-Quirk, the founder of Scout and Zoe.

Cindy was bundled up, but radiated purpose and energy. She immediately introduced her pups, and these giant beasts wiggled with pleasure as we made friends.  It wasn’t much warmer inside- because as she pointed out, it’s better for the product shelf life to stay cool.  As we walked back to a small meeting area, I admired the order in the space.  It was clear there was a place for everything, and everything in its place.  Taped out squares of different colors, and shelving in the center were immediate clues- this woman means business.

Cindy touts that she solves a problem with her business and loves her dogs as people. She solved a problem for her people, and has made a living doing it.  As we chatted, she expounded for me. Every leap or change has come about as a solution to a problem. Her business started when she complained to her vet about Zoe’s allergies and not having treats anywhere on the market.  He replied, “ you’re smart, why don’t you invent something?”  She agreed and got started. This start sparked a now 8 year old business.  It took her 14 days to make it happen.  A countdown from the idea to having a marketable product.  When Cindy puts her mind to it, the focus is laser sharp. Scout and Zoe was born with it’s first product of elk antlers, sourced locally & cut in her garage.

The next phase of growth?  Getting out of the garage, because the cutting of the antlers almost left her husband 2 fingers short.  Cindy began outsourcing in a big way with production and packaging. This led her down a path to finding ways to help the community, as well as growing her business.   Cindy found relationships for packing and processing to help fund other non-profits such as the Hopewell Center in Anderson. Her business has grown from elk antlers to 64 different products.

When asked if she would go back to change anything about her experience, she replied confidently “I wouldn’t have changed a thing.   I’ve always believed ‘timing is everything.  When the student is ready the teacher arrives.’ I have a huge personality- I’ve been fired from almost every job I have.  I find different ways to do things, look at things that challenge the status quo.  While some of those experiences were extremely personal and traumatic- it has led me to where I am.  It was incredibly enlightening to have all those experiences.  If I went out in the workforce, I probably couldn’t find a job because my resume is so disjointed.  Now when you look at it, it looks like an incredible recipe for success.”

Her sales background has helped her products become well known outside of Anderson.   Not many people in Anderson know of her company’s existence.  However, Anderson has been very accommodating to her success.  Low cost of housing the business, microloans available from Bankable at pivotal times have all been a part of keeping the company going and growing.   As her business continues to grow here in Anderson, she hopes to be able to have Scout and Zoe employees in the warehouse so she can go out to do what she does best- sell to outside clients.    When asked what her next steps would be- “ So many things.  Growth, new products, employees. If we’re talking big, I’d love to have our own Scout and Zoe processing plant, a huge undertaking.”    She continues to follow her own advice, and dream big, never set a limit.

Snapshot

Entrepreneur: Geoff Ginther

Business: Steel Lynx

Age: 5 years, 1 Year full time

Location: Anderson, IN

Best Advice: LEARN TO VALUE your time.  As a hobbyist I was not valuing my time and was depressing the market.  DO YOUR RESEARCH so you can assure you value your time. You may low ball yourself into a situation where you won’t make enough money to support yourself and get your business off the ground.

What you’d like to see in Anderson’s future: Focus on and encouragement for our arts programs would make Anderson more attractive.  We’ve started that direction, but need to maintain focus.  Art is life. There is a huge communication gap- half of Anderson doesn’t know what the other half of Anderson is doing.  I didn’t know what was going on and had no idea what was happening.  I just went to my first play at Main Stage. We need to find a way to engage the commuting crowd to get people involved.

Snapshot

Entrepreneur: Geoff Ginther 

Business: Steel Lynx

Age: 5 years, 1 Year full time

Location: Anderson, IN

Best Advice: LEARN TO VALUE your time.  As a hobbyist I was not valuing my time and was depressing the market.  DO YOUR RESEARCH so you can assure you value your time. You may low ball yourself into a situation where you won’t make enough money to support yourself and get your business off the ground.

What you’d like to see in Anderson’s future: Focus on and encouragement for our arts programs would make Anderson more attractive.  We’ve started that direction, but need to maintain focus.  Art is life. There is a huge communication gap- half of Anderson doesn’t know what the other half of Anderson is doing.  I didn’t know what was going on and had no idea what was happening.  I just went to my first play at Main Stage. We need to find a way to engage the commuting crowd to get people involved.

Geoff’s Distracted- It’s a very good thing

By Lindsey Barton

Geoff has confessed, he’s a fidgeter.  It’s a natural starting point for his need to create. As we talk, Geoff Ginther pulls out his current project, a small towel he’s knitting.  Knitting started the metal weaving, which started Steel Lynx.  What is it that Steel Lynx is all about?  Fidgets.  You heard me, fidgets and stim toys.  Geoff’s recent focus has been on the craze with fidget toys and his product line of  Mobii™  fidgets.  His knitting was put back into the bag, and our conversation continued as he pulled out his mobile work station. I watched the intricate dance of his art as a bike chain fidget came to life during our chat.

Geoff has a graduate degree in information science and used to run customer support tech centers in Carmel. He is now one of the premier handcrafters of metal work on Etsy.  Why this?  Why now?  Geoff is still in his startup year of working at Steel Lynx full time.  Last October, his company was changing hands yet again and they offered career counseling. .Geoff explain: “The person I worked with was so incredibly positive and a joy to be around- so I tried to model my expectations after him.  What do you want to do?  It was apparent I didn’t want to go back to a similar job.  I laid out some scenarios for them and got some external validation and that helped me make a jump. “

So last year in November, Geoff took the leap into the unknown- and has done quite well in Anderson getting his business off the ground.  “ I started with an etsy store, and from there – online is a very low cost of business.  Very low intro fee to try it out.  I was able to try out a lot of things.  It was a hobby, so if I make something that doesn’t sell, oh well…About half of my ideas come from my customers, they ask and I make it for them.”

As Geoff has moved into a full time role, the challenges of his company are not product based, but instead structural. “The shifting from a sole proprietorship into a structured form was big.  Navigating the specific accounting and filing challenges that entails.  I would highly advise anyone moving into business to have a lawyer they feel comfortable grabbing for a consultation.  Also, an accountant for best methods.  I tried to do so many things on my own, and found it was better to pay the cost to have it done properly”  Have the temptation to do it all yourself?  Don’t.  Geoff advised to learn from his mistakes and get help to follow the letter of the law.

What made Geoff choose Anderson as his home base?  Geoff worked in Carmel, and actually received criticism from co-workers for living in Anderson with the commute.  “As soon as I told them about my mortgage, it all disappeared.” Also, in a small town atmosphere  there is “a chance to be involved with the community. It’s awesome because there is so much here once you get a chance to be involved.  Being an entrepreneur has given me that opportunity.”

The affordability of Anderson and the close knit community of a small town has given Geoff  more of what is important to him. “I can live the life I enjoy living.  Much more flex time with my daughter and community engagement.  Doing things I enjoy that I wouldn’t have time to do with a regular 9-5.  It’s more work, but I have flexible time.”   It’s clear that his hobby has become big business, giving him the life that he wants doing something he enjoys.  His finger always on the pulse of his customer, he knows that fidget toys may slow down.  However, he’s got the business and skills in place to craft whatever comes up next.

Geoff’s Distracted- It’s a very good thing

By Lindsey Barton

Geoff has confessed, he’s a fidgeter.  It’s a natural starting point for his need to create. As we talk, Geoff Ginther pulls out his current project, a small towel he’s knitting.  Knitting started the metal weaving, which started Steel Lynx.  What is it that Steel Lynx is all about?  Fidgets.  You heard me, fidgets and stim toys.  Geoff’s recent focus has been on the craze with fidget toys and his product line of  Mobii™  fidgets.  His knitting was put back into the bag, and our conversation continued as he pulled out his mobile work station. I watched the intricate dance of his art as a bike chain fidget came to life during our chat.

Geoff has a graduate degree in information science and used to run customer support tech centers in Carmel. He is now one of the premier handcrafters of metal work on Etsy.  Why this?  Why now?  Geoff is still in his startup year of working at Steel Lynx full time.  Last October, his company was changing hands yet again and they offered career counseling. .Geoff explain: “The person I worked with was so incredibly positive and a joy to be around- so I tried to model my expectations after him.  What do you want to do?  It was apparent I didn’t want to go back to a similar job.  I laid out some scenarios for them and got some external validation and that helped me make a jump. “

So last year in November, Geoff took the leap into the unknown- and has done quite well in Anderson getting his business off the ground.  “ I started with an etsy store, and from there – online is a very low cost of business.  Very low intro fee to try it out.  I was able to try out a lot of things.  It was a hobby, so if I make something that doesn’t sell, oh well…About half of my ideas come from my customers, they ask and I make it for them.”

As Geoff has moved into a full time role, the challenges of his company are not product based, but instead structural. “The shifting from a sole proprietorship into a structured form was big.  Navigating the specific accounting and filing challenges that entails.  I would highly advise anyone moving into business to have a lawyer they feel comfortable grabbing for a consultation.  Also, an accountant for best methods.  I tried to do so many things on my own, and found it was better to pay the cost to have it done properly”  Have the temptation to do it all yourself?  Don’t.  Geoff advised to learn from his mistakes and get help to follow the letter of the law.

What made Geoff choose Anderson as his home base?  Geoff worked in Carmel, and actually received criticism from co-workers for living in Anderson with the commute.  “As soon as I told them about my mortgage, it all disappeared.” Also, in a small town atmosphere  there is “a chance to be involved with the community. It’s awesome because there is so much here once you get a chance to be involved.  Being an entrepreneur has given me that opportunity.”

The affordability of Anderson and the close knit community of a small town has given Geoff  more of what is important to him. “I can live the life I enjoy living.  Much more flex time with my daughter and community engagement.  Doing things I enjoy that I wouldn’t have time to do with a regular 9-5.  It’s more work, but I have flexible time.”   It’s clear that his hobby has become big business, giving him the life that he wants doing something he enjoys.  His finger always on the pulse of his customer, he knows that fidget toys may slow down.  However, he’s got the business and skills in place to craft whatever comes up next.

When it’s a talent, you just know…

By Lindsey Barton

Dee is very tall, and could possibly be considered intimidating in his presence- if he didn’t exude such warmth from the moment he turned around.   I have never met a comic artist, so was unsure what to expect.  His delight in his work is apparent from the moment he begins speaking about his story.  Dee grew up in an area where racism was a part of his everyday life.  He was the ONLY African American child in his school.  We all know kids aren’t always kind to those who are different.  “I was treated terribly, just for being who I am.  It was awful.”  He moved to Anderson to be with his family in the sixth grade after his father passed away after a bought with cancer from Agent Orange exposure during his time in the service.   After his experience being  thought of and treated as “less than or other” Dee came to see his goal in life to treat people the way he’d want to be treated, and make others happy through his art.   Wise words coming from a 21 year old, and not ones we hear often from anyone so young. 

When it’s a talent, you just know…

By Lindsey Barton

Dee is very tall, and could possibly be considered intimidating in his presence- if he didn’t exude such warmth from the moment he turned around.   I have never met a comic artist, so was unsure what to expect.  His delight in his work is apparent from the moment he begins speaking about his story.  Dee grew up in an area where racism was a part of his everyday life.  He was the ONLY African American child in his school.  We all know kids aren’t always kind to those who are different.  “I was treated terribly, just for being who I am.  It was awful.”  He moved to Anderson to be with his family in the sixth grade after his father passed away after a bought with cancer from Agent Orange exposure during his time in the service.   After his experience being  thought of and treated as “less than or other” Dee came to see his goal in life to treat people the way he’d want to be treated, and make others happy through his art.   Wise words coming from a 21 year old, and not ones we hear often from anyone so young. 

 

Dee has done his homework, and sought wise counsel. He has only been out of high school a few years, and has met some of the top artists in his profession.  He has drawings on his wall, made for him by Jim Davis, Ray Billingsley, and a myriad of other artists.  One of his proudest moments was being able to go speak with Jim Davis (creator of Garfield) at the PAWS headquarters about Dee’s work- getting feedback and advice from his hero.  Dee had a comic strip in the monthly high school paper, and soon after graduation he was working on a daily comic “Life with Kurami” in the Herald Bulletin.  This isn’t one of those instances where the stars aligned, and he magically got his break.  At the advice of a mentor,  he worked on many characters to get something together for a daily strip.   He showed up unannounced to  present his work to Scott Underwood at the Herald Bulletin, who told him “it wasn’t there yet but stay in touch.”  It took time to develop, while working 2 to 3 jobs, and they finally agreed to publish Dee’s strip “Life with Kurami”.   After almost 3 years of publishing a daily comic, he was ready to move on this past  October to focus on his new project Pen and Ink.

 

I asked him how in the world did he go from drawing in high school to getting work into a paper?  You’d need graphic arts training, and work with layout for publication.  A whole list of what he would need ran through my mind.  His humble reply, “They are all from watching interviews, being inspired by Jim Davis- watching my favorite comics.  My process came from doing research- I had some friends in the industry and grabbed advice from them.  Try this, try that.  I asked questions, if I don’t know- and they don’t know, they find someone who does and get back to me.”  With an incredible support network Dee was ready.  However, “Life with Kurami” wasn’t all roses- which is how Pen and Ink was born.  Life happened. Criticism about his strip struck him to the core.  A reader asked how could he possibly write about a single mother when he wasn’t one?  So Dee decided to stop doing what others wanted, and focus wherever his art took him- which was straight to Pen and Ink.  It’s a comic for artists according to Dee, and as I looked through his work his talent was apparent.  He proudly presented me with a proof of his first book “Pen and Ink: A Perfect Bind”, which will be self published through a gofundme.com campaign which raised over 6 times his initial goal.  In the future, his goal is to do art only for a living.  He’s got plenty of opportunity with Pen and Ink.  He’s currently playing with animation, and has a huge online following.  Dee also has a way of looking at the world that has helped him along the way, “People want to do something because of success and fame, I’m doing it because it makes me happy. “

 

 Our conversation happened during his lunch break at one of his jobs in downtown Anderson.  He took me up to his office, where he recently moved in.  Art ready to be hung, his inspiration from other comics on every book case and surface.   We started talking about what would come next for Pen and Ink. On the business side of things, the opportunity abounds.  Product licensing, cartoons, books.  The world is at his fingertips right here in Anderson.  He mentioned that so many people say you have to go to a big city to make a living at art, he believes he can do it right here from Anderson. So much opportunity, because there is something magical about his humor in Pen and Ink,  in his artwork.  He brings to life perfectly characters that so many different people can relate to on all levels.  The bright innocent eyes of Ink with the mischievous spirit and the awkward teen body with adult responsibility character of Penny.  Humor that is wholesome, and just fun.  It’s a talent, and you just know it as soon as you see it. It made me happy, Dee’s goal achieved.

Dee has done his homework, and sought wise counsel. He has only been out of high school a few years, and has met some of the top artists in his profession.  He has drawings on his wall, made for him by Jim Davis, Ray Billingsley, and a myriad of other artists.  One of his proudest moments was being able to go speak with Jim Davis (creator of Garfield) at the PAWS headquarters about Dee’s work- getting feedback and advice from his hero.  Dee had a comic strip in the monthly high school paper, and soon after graduation he was working on a daily comic “Life with Kurami” in the Herald Bulletin.  This isn’t one of those instances where the stars aligned, and he magically got his break.  At the advice of a mentor,  he worked on many characters to get something together for a daily strip.   He showed up unannounced to  present his work to Scott Underwood at the Herald Bulletin, who told him “it wasn’t there yet but stay in touch.”  It took time to develop, while working 2 to 3 jobs, and they finally agreed to publish Dee’s strip “Life with Kurami”.   After almost 3 years of publishing a daily comic, he was ready to move on this past  October to focus on his new project Pen and Ink.

I asked him how in the world did he go from drawing in high school to getting work into a paper?  You’d need graphic arts training, and work with layout for publication.  A whole list of what he would need ran through my mind.  His humble reply, “They are all from watching interviews, being inspired by Jim Davis- watching my favorite comics.  My process came from doing research- I had some friends in the industry and grabbed advice from them.  Try this, try that.  I asked questions, if I don’t know- and they don’t know, they find someone who does and get back to me.”  With an incredible support network Dee was ready.  However, “Life with Kurami” wasn’t all roses- which is how Pen and Ink was born.  Life happened. Criticism about his strip struck him to the core.  A reader asked how could he possibly write about a single mother when he wasn’t one?  So Dee decided to stop doing what others wanted, and focus wherever his art took him- which was straight to Pen and Ink.  It’s a comic for artists according to Dee, and as I looked through his work his talent was apparent.  He proudly presented me with a proof of his first book “Pen and Ink: A Perfect Bind”, which will be self published through a gofundme.com campaign which raised over 6 times his initial goal.  In the future, his goal is to do art only for a living.  He’s got plenty of opportunity with Pen and Ink.  He’s currently playing with animation, and has a huge online following.  Dee also has a way of looking at the world that has helped him along the way, “People want to do something because of success and fame, I’m doing it because it makes me happy. “

Our conversation happened during his lunch break at one of his jobs in downtown Anderson.  He took me up to his office, where he recently moved in.  Art ready to be hung, his inspiration from other comics on every book case and surface.   We started talking about what would come next for Pen and Ink. On the business side of things, the opportunity abounds.  Product licensing, cartoons, books.  The world is at his fingertips right here in Anderson.  He mentioned that so many people say you have to go to a big city to make a living at art, he believes he can do it right here from Anderson. So much opportunity, because there is something magical about his humor in Pen and Ink,  in his artwork.  He brings to life perfectly characters that so many different people can relate to on all levels.  The bright innocent eyes of Ink with the mischievous spirit and the awkward teen body with adult responsibility character of Penny.  Humor that is wholesome, and just fun.  It’s a talent, and you just know it as soon as you see it. It made me happy, Dee’s goal achieved.