100 Creatives 2014: Luke Hamilton, Dancer, Choreographer and Actor

Categories: 100 Creatives

Luke300.jpg
Photo by Kyle Ezer
Luke Hamilton, Choreographer
Bayou City Theatrics resident choreographer Luke Hamilton showed signs of being a performer early in his life. "When I was five years old, I was on a soccer team. I scored a goal, turned to my Grandma and took a bow. She said she knew right then and there that I was supposed to be a performer."

Soon after that, Hamilton traded soccer teams for chorus lines. Dancing, singing and acting lessons followed, all of which convinced him a career onstage was the right thing for him.

"I discovered my love for theater at an early age. When I figured out I could make a career out of playing dress-up, something I did often...as a kid, I was sold on the idea."

Somewhere along the line, Hamilton started choreographing as well as performing. His work in the Houston Family Arts Center's Fiddler on the Roof won Best Choreography for a Musical at the Houston Theater Awards in 2013. That was an especially difficult task since the show included 64 performers and there were several scenes with the entire cast singing and dancing onstage. Hamilton was only 20 years old at the time, making him the youngest Houston Theater Awards winner ever.

More »

100 Creatives 2014: Jera Rose Petal Lodge, Metalsmith and Jewelrymaker

Categories: 100 Creatives

jera560.jpg
Photo by Amanda Shackleford
Jera Rose Petal Lodge, one of five artists currently in residence at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, has been making things her whole life, she says. "I was always really into sewing and would make jewelry with whatever I could get my hands on, but I didn't think making jewelry could be a career until I was in my early twenties. I took a couple of years off after high school and saw a friend taking a metalsmithing class, and when I saw what she was making, I knew that's what I wanted to do."

Lodge graduated from college in 2012 and has been working independently for only two years. In that time, she's decided that metalsmithing and jewelry design is how she wants to make her living, but she isn't sure if that's a good plan.

"Right now, I say this looks like it's going to be my work, but at the same time I never take days off so that doesn't look sustainable. In the three months I've been in Houston, I've never taken one day off. Can I really not take any time off for the next ten years? I have to think about that."

This story continues on the next page.

More »

100 Creatives 2014: Lauren Burke, Dancer and Choreographer

Categories: 100 Creatives

PhotoshootJacquelineNalettLaurenBurke560.jpg
Photo by Jacqueline Nalett
Dancer/choreographer Lauren Burke
Lauren Burke has had a busy couple of years. She was named the 2014 Outstanding Dance Student of the Year at the University of Houston (her picture is currently on UH Dance department's promotional material). She was awarded a prestigious scholarship to attend American Dance Festival 2014. She was one of only 19 who were chosen for New York choreographer Netta Yerushalmy's work. (Some 400 dancers auditioned.) She was named the Best Emerging Artist at the most recent Houston Fringe Festival, where she performed her own work. And she's currently dancing for not one but two of her favorite local dance companies, Urban Souls and FrenetiCore.

This story continues on the next page.

More »

100 Creatives 2014: Ben Fritzsching, Comic Book Show Promoter and Character Actor

Categories: 100 Creatives

BenthePimp560.jpg
All photos courtesy of Ben Fritzsching
Ben Fritzsching
Ben Fritzsching, a partner in the comic book show promotion group STX Shows, has a very simple explanation as to how he started collecting comic books: "My mom never made me get rid of anything. The next thing I knew, I was collecting." His parents took him to a couple of comic book shows and that moved him from the Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck comics he had been reading to superheroes and GI Joe. By the time he was 17, he had so many comics he decided to set up his own booth at a show, and his career as a part-time comic book dealer was born.

After selling collectables at comic book shows for about ten years, Fritzsching took a break from the business. "Everything was getting so expensive. The prices for everything were skyrocketing." Both Fritzsching and his wife were laid off and weekend comic book shows took a backseat to paying bills.

This story continues on the next page.

More »

100 Creatives 2014: Will Ottinger, Novelist

Categories: 100 Creatives

RavensBookCover275.jpg
Chances are novelist Will Ottinger won't die on a golf course in the next five years. At least not according to his own estimate of life expectancy after retirement (which is based on a completely unscientific sampling, we're sure).

Ottinger, who had a long career in finance, tells us that once it he left the business world it wasn't time for him to do less with his time, but something different. "I quickly realized there was more to an active after-business life than playing golf, coming home, watching television and going to bed. [People who do that] typically die within five years of retiring."

Instead of practicing his putting, Ottinger started writing. His first book, A Season for Ravens, was released earlier this year. Ravens reflects Ottinger's life long interest in history and is set in 1918. It's the story of three fighter pilots, each with their own personal demons, as they take part in the first ever aerial war.

Along with the three pilots (two American and one German), Ottinger created a host of other characters - wives, commanding officers, soldiers, friends - and they all ended up living in his head for a while.

"If you want to create realistic [fleshed out] characters for the readers, you have to make them realistic for yourself first. They became very real for me. My wife asked me 'Do these people live in your head? If they do, can we get you back on your medicine?' There was some sadness that all of these people, these characters that I've lived with for so much time are going away when I finished the book but really after a while, I [was] just so damn glad to get rid of them!"

Ottinger is already working on his next novel, and "bringing some new [characters] to life."

This story continues on the next page.

More »

100 Creatives 2014: Greg Starbird, Theater Lighting Designer

Categories: 100 Creatives

RedDeathMildreds560.jpg
Courtesy of Greg Starbird
The set of Red Death at Mildred's Umbrella
As a theater lighting designer, Greg Starbird does a lot of planning. He analyzes the show's script. He meets with the show's director and other designers to determine a communal approach. He creates a light plot of his initial ideas and tweaks it as he goes along. "In smaller theaters, such as Mildred's Umbrella, I typically work alone to hang, cable, and focus the lights," he tells us. "This can be a long process depending on how involved the plot is, who was in the space last, and how much troubleshooting and repair work needs to be done to get the necessary lights operable."

Planning, he's found, decreases but doesn't eliminate problems in production. "No amount of preparation can ever make tech go perfectly, so I have to be ready to improvise quickly, effectively, and efficiently to satisfy the director and design team without compromising my own aesthetic."

And then there's the question of getting it "right," not just being glitch-free but enhancing the show's impact and deepening the audience's experience.

"Every play has at least one moment of near-crippling self-doubt and at least one moment of self-validation," he says, "and if I'm lucky, they come in that order and the latter outnumbers the former."

This story continues on the next page.

More »

100 Creatives 2014: Dominique Royem, Symphony Orchestra Conductor

Categories: 100 Creatives

Domonique560Opener.jpg
All photos courtesy of Dominique Royem
Dominique Royem and the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra
Dominique Royem, Music Director of the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra as well as Music Director and Conductor of Bayou City Concert Musicals, was in college when she conducted her first orchestra. As part of a class, she conducted "How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place" from the Brahms Requiem. "I had fun," she tells us, "but didn't think anything about it. After the performance, Dr. Robert Linder, who happened to be in the audience, pulled me aside and told me that I had a spark that 'couldn't be taught' and [that I] should pursue conducting professionally. I said 'Uhhhh... sure?' and that was that."

Soon after that, Royem was appointed as assistant conductor for a production of The Marriage of Figaro. At the time she had only a small amount of training, but it was then that she first called herself a conductor. "The title of conductor or music director is a job description, but it's one you have to earn. [With that production of The Marriage of Figaro,] I jumped head first into something I didn't fully understand. Things move very quickly in the theater world, and there is no time for self-doubt. Through that experience I learned that I had to call myself a conductor if I wanted to be one; no one else could bestow the title on me."

This story continues on the next page.

More »

100 Creatives 2014: Marc Boone, Sneaker Gang Founder and Designer

Categories: 100 Creatives

Boone_SneakerGang560.jpg
All photos courtesy of Marc Boone and Sneaker Gang
Marc Boone of Sneaker Gang
Marc Boone's a self-admitted sneaker-head. Boone grew up in what he calls "the hood," where he was "surrounded by thugs and drugs." He wasn't a member of a gang back then, but here recently he started one: the Sneaker Gang. The tag's a bit of a misnomer; Sneaker Gang is Boone's design firm specializing in street-wear fashion.

Given the culture that's grown up around sneakers, which can cost thousands of dollars and which have often been the target of thieves (including one cop recently busted for stealing sneakers), Boone often finds it necessary to say: "We're not condoning any gang related activities and we are not to be confused with one." He goes on to say, "we're affiliated" (a nice way of saying 'we got street cred but we aren't gangsters).

This story continues on the next page.

More »

100 Creatives 2014: Andy McWilliams, Sound Designer and Composer

Categories: 100 Creatives

Andy3560.jpg
All photos courtesy of Andy McWilliams
Quick, name a sound designer that's won an Emmy Award. Can't? Actually, neither can we right off the top of our head. Unless there big bombs or huge explosions, an audience usually doesn't pay much attention to a show's sound design. Ambient sound and incidental music are crucial to a show, but usually go unnoticed -- sound designers don't take a bow at the end of the show. Here's one that should. Andy McWilliams, a composer, musician, producer, sound engineer, instrument craftsman and theatrical sound designer works with local companies such as Mildred's Umbrella where he just finished working on Red Death.

What he does: "I do many different things. Being a musician and engineer/producer, I play many different instruments, write and record, produce and mix different projects. As a sound designer in theater, I use my musician side to put together the right elements for the play I'm working on at that time."

Why he likes it: "I like all of the elements involved with making any artistic production come together. Making records and working in theater share a lot of similarities... [for both] you're working with people that you like and trust, and they like and trust you to add your ideas to what something. I love working with the people, and seeing the final product is always very rewarding. Sometimes the process takes so much out of you that you have to step back a bit before you can see what you've made, but it's always wonderful."

This story continues on the next page.

More »

100 Creatives 2014: Maria-Elisa Heg, Zine Queen

Categories: 100 Creatives

mariaelisaheck2.jpg
What She Does: Maria-Elisa Heg has been drawing since she was a kid. As her talent progressed, her work became more and more derivative, and realizing that, she made it a point as a teenager to focus on creating a unique style that embodied her. Most recently she's embraced sketching because of its spontaneity and the easy flow of her ideas onto the page at a rapid speed.

Her work, most easily viewable on her tumblr, tends toward the cartoonish and the simplistic. However, what it tends to lack in nuance and depth, it makes up for in a kind of punk rock brutality. There's an unfiltered genius, as if each picture were a snapshot of a single disturbed thought transmitted directly to paper.

She's also one of the minds behind Zine Fest Houston, which gathers some of the brightest and the best of our comic writers and artists every year. It started as an informal gathering in 1993, but Heg and co-organizer Anastasia Kirages took over the fest in 2012 to begin a dedicated expansion. The two partnered with The Printing Museum last year and have been a growing concern ever since.

More »
Loading...