Giants Walked Here
By: Brian Miller
It may come as a surprise to many in our community that Terre Haute over the years has been a breeding ground for successful creative visual artists. It certainly does not surprise me. I dedicate this article to all of the artists in Terre Haute: the teachers, writers, photographers, videographers, sculptors, website developers, painters, designers and illustrators; to all of you who make or have made Terre Haute a better place (“A Level Above”), to our award winning creative staff at MillerWhite Marketing and to Jane, my wife for 41 years, all of whom have helped me in the pursuit of my professional passion.
From my early beginnings at Indiana State University, great teachers and fellow students immediately influenced me. There are too many to mention, but a few demand it. Robert “Monty” Montgomery, Dick Hay, Bob Evans, Larry Saltz, John Dowell, John Cooper, David Erickson and Leroy Lamis were the teachers that opened my mind to the visual arts. I am just a grain of sand among the students that these instructors and artists influenced. I would be remiss not to mention Austin Lowery and Fran Latanzio, who I did not have the fortune to have as teachers, but who had a great influence on me nonetheless. And of course, there was Omar “Salty” Seamon.
When I started my career at Scholastic Publishing in New York, I had the opportunity to work alongside two talented ISU designer classmates, Phil Slater and Steve Duckett. From there I moved to Chicago to team up with another of my ISU classmates and very good friend George Hamblin, who has made a lifelong career as a successful illustrator in the Chicago market.
Eventually, I migrated back to Terre Haute, where Lloyd Brooks, an ISU alumnus, and I started a fledgling studio called Public Works. We did amazingly great work, but it was a tough challenge in a market that offered few opportunities at that time.
Lloyd went on to Indianapolis where he has had a tremendous career in publishing, advertising and teaching. He is now the Program Chair of Visual Communications at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis.
After Public Works, I headed up the Graphic Design area for one year at Indiana State University in the Art Department. During that year, I had a class of 12 incredibly talented seniors. Scott Johnson, Mark Searles, Tim Burns, Jim Clements, George Harris (from West Terre Haute) and Brian Krueger were a few of those who were born to be in this business.
Bernie Vinzani and I taught drawing together at Indiana State University and worked together at Haig’s Screen Printing. Bernie is now a professional papermaker for artists and lives in Maine. He is the Director of The Book Arts Studio and also teaches at the University of Maine at Machias. He has exhibited his work nationally and internationally in such venues as The VI International Print Biennial, Cracow Poland, ARC Gallery, Chicago Das Papier, Durien Germany, Paperworks Caracas, Venezuela, and the Maine Invitational, Portland Maine.
Dale Binford, Mark Biddle and Michael Sciortino also were huge artistic influences from those early days at ISU.
It was while I was at ISU that I met Mark Braught. Mark was my graduate assistant. In 1980 we started our company MillerWhite Marketing (then called Graphic Edition, Inc.), I was able to lure Mark in to our start-up business and later helped to convince him that he needed to be in a larger market to get recognized nationally as an illustrator.
Mark went on to become a national figure in the art of illustration. He is based out of Commerce, Georgia. His work has won countless awards including Society of Illustrators. His passion for what he does needs no other explanation but to view his work.
Dennis Jackson, another ISU alumnus, interned with us. He was a West Terre Haute boy who started out doing pointillism and continues with that technique today. He is commonly referred to as the “Dot Man.” He was commissioned by Harley-Davidson Motor Company to create an original pointillism fine art piece to commemorate the company’s 100th anniversary and a number of other pieces. Dennis works out of Louisville, Kentucky, and created the first ever, licensed portrait of Willie G. Davidson and his wife Nancy for the 100th year anniversary of Harley-Davidson.
Tim Jessell worked for our firm for a while in the early days. An article in the November/December 2011 issue of Commercial Arts Magazine chronicles his success. He may very well be the most famous contemporary illustrator (along with Mark Braught) to come out of Terre Haute. Some of his clients include Miller Brewing Company, Nike, AT&T, Time, and Random House Publishing. He has won numerous, prestigious awards including a Gold Medal the first year he entered Society of Illustrators, and was chosen Illustrator of the Year by Adweek magazine. He and his family reside in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Mike Cindric is the Project Manager for Design Dimensions, Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was great influence and friend at ISU and I’m very happy that this article brought us back in touch again.
Bill Timms, now retired was an Indiana State University graduate and a Sullivan County boy, whose career was cut way too short. Our company was fortunate to have his talent as a designer and illustrator for several years.
Other names many of you will recognize are Steve and Carolyn Phillips, Jason Sciortino, Jim Shepard, Rod Bradfield, James Kelly, Steve Letsinger, Bill Wolfe, Neil Garrison, Laura Gibbons Nickel, Pat Chaney, Stan Serkosky, Shane Web, Scott Lee, John Criss, Brendan Kearns, Barbara Minor and Christopher Hentz. All of them have Terre Haute ties, and all are following their dreams and passions.
On the following pages are examples of the work of some of these artists. I thank them for the beauty they have created and for sharing it with us.
I apologize to the many of you who came from Terre Haute or who have blessed us with your creative presence, with whom I have come in contact and have not mentioned. Your contributions are no less important. I look forward to meeting those of you out there who I know will brighten our visual senses in the future.
One final thank you goes to Cathy Hendricks, our copywriter, who craftily assisted in editing this article for me.