By Daniel Finsley
I moved to Pittsburgh in 1999 to attend Art School. After graduation, I intended to plant my feet in that very city permanently, but my life had other plans. I ended up coming back to Wheeling due to a VERY closed job market for ‘entry level’ Designers in Pittsburgh. I came back to Wheeling with a bit of resentment, to be quite honest. Why? To this day, I still can’t answer that question. I can only assume that upon my return, I thought it would be a ‘dead-end’ decision … I would come to find out 3 years later how wrong I actually was.
Consider this – much like almost every Art School grad, I had to obtain a job that was outside of my field of expertise. I was fine with that, as I was raised to get what you can if the opportunity presents itself. I ended up a Telephone Sales Representative and although it was an incredibly challenging position, I thoroughly excelled gaining tenure and climbing the ladder using my communication knowledge. Please keep in mind, that this entire time of working to climb that corporate ladder, I was also doing as much freelance design as I could get my hands on, as well as working on my Fine Art skills, being commissioned for portrait painting and what have you.
Fast forward to 2008. I find myself at the doors of a local and very successful business. It is a nationwide website and ranked #1 in the US amongst High School Sports. You may clearly remember the name, it was HighSchoolSports.net / ScheduleStar.com. Needless to say, I got the job as their ‘in-house’ designer. It was quite the accomplishment, in my eyes. My first Design job … I never thought I would have actually seen the day! HA! Just incredible!
Just so you are aware, the Santorines (Dolph and the wondrous Lora Kaye) owned HSS.net and I can honestly say that without their belief in my potential, I wouldn’t be where I am as we speak. Through my employment (which I still account as the best job I have ever had) with them I became involved with many projects on a large scale basis. It was such an eye opening experience working hand-in-hand with branding bigwigs from Chicago. That position had truly molded me into a ‘designing machine’ with an enhanced vision.
Even though the company downsized and relocated, I didn’t carry any resentment because I gathered such wonderful knowledge that I still carry with me to this very day. Sure, I could move back to the ‘Burgh and start over, but why? I now had a little girl of only a few months old to worry about and I was more than aware that I wanted to raise her right; I wanted to raise her in the same area that I grew up.
I then took that ‘eye opening’ knowledge to the next level and started really focusing on our city and surrounding area. What had this place that I once knew and loved become? I wasn’t going to stand for it. I worked hard, then harder and then ever HARDER to start my very own Design and Marketing agency, “Bridge Group Creative Partners”. It thrived and in the heat of the moment it had started to change the face of our city, slowly. I truly felt that I was accomplishing something. It was an indescribable feeling; almost magical.
Through an unfortunate turn of events, I had to turn off the lights to that idea and ended up back in Pittsburgh. Yeah, I gave it my all up there and yet, I still focused on Wheeling’s renewal which only led me back to our Valley. It’s weird how that works, isn’t it? It was a blessing in disguise.
Needless to say, I’m not looking back this time. I simply can’t. I am desperately in love with our city and I carry a vision that has more clarity than the definition of clarity itself. I once again started another agency that focuses on branding and re-branding of local ideas and businesses alike. From the very first day we started this, it has been concrete. We share an unparalleled obsession to polish this area and will do what it takes to breathe life back into her lungs.
We started Yellow Tuxedo Creative – www.yellowtuxedo.com because we want to share our love and undying admiration for our Valley. We can now see that we are NOT alone on this path. It’s quite humbling to be able to walk, side-by-side with others that see our valley’s true potential. Together, we want to re-kindle this fire. With everyone finally on the same page, we want this city to be seen from afar as the cornerstone it once was.
We will help in any way that we can. I personally want to see the same city that I saw when I was a kid. I want this because I want my child to see what I saw, but through her own eyes.
So far, so good. KEEP IT UP, EVERYONE! There’s no stopping now.
Wheeling, We love you!