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Local artist, designer VanWyck makes his mark in more ways than one

March 15, 2017

Chris VanWyck is 6-foot-2, a mountain of beard jutting from his chin. Lover of Art Deco and film posters, he does not shy away from being weird.

Walk inside his Ludington Area Center for the Arts room 205 and on an off-white side wall, Lake Michigan blue and appearing to illuminate the scattered boxes below it, a graphic poster hangs, reminiscent of Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period paintings.

There, center frame, a hammer is about to shatter a human-head-shaped glass fish bowl, liberating the subject’s mind, allowing the water and goldfish to flow free.

It’s a metaphor about being a free thinker, sure, but it’s also a design shown to VanWyck’s students to help illustrate the creative power of being a designer, of being an artist and of being — different.

“I’m a naturally curious person,” said the 48-year-old. “We joke at home that I’ll probably meet my demise because I stopped to take a picture of a cool pattern in the middle of a road.”

He then laughs, but that’s VanWyck’s personality, and that’s how he finds inspiration from, well, everything.

“Shapes, colors — I’ve always kind of had an odd way of looking at the world,” VanWyck said. “Looking at shape and color, not necessarily context, it allows me to take things out of their normal realm and look at them a little differently. … I wear weird like a badge. Who wants to be normal, man?”

Take for instance VanWyck’s design idea for Ludington Avenue’s Spindrift Cyclesports or a CD cover for local musician John Merchant, and how he deliberately layers his project with meaning. Recently, he drew a sketch of an eye inside of a triangle, alluding to the illuminati.

The name of this beer can?

Conspiracy.

“They are great people who need to have their stories told visually that matches them,” VanWyck said.

Layer upon layer

Each VanWyck client at Engine Creative LLC is a relationship, starting off small like one of his quick sketches.

Then something bigger is created.

Dave and Kathy Maclean, who own Spindrift Cyclesports, asked VanWyck for help.

He did help, crafting the name of the Macleans’ new bicycle shop by considering the geography of the region and the sensation of bicycling and combing them into one creation.

The word spindrift, which many people do not know, VanWyck added, is a nautical term for the spray that blows off the top of waves during gale-force winds. He combined wind on the waves and wind in the face while riding a bike, and VanWyck had the concept.

“Chris helped us with the naming of the bike shop,” Dave Maclean said. “He also developed our logo and has done other design work for us. Chris takes a methodical approach to utilizing his creativity, and he is very good at it. He doesn’t just sit back and throw out a bunch of ideas. They are all well thought-out with reason behind each one.”

Read the full story in Wednesday’s print and e-Edition of the Ludington Daily News.