100 Colorado Creatives: Samuel Schimek

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#36: Samuel Schimek

Artist, designer and entrepreneur Samuel Schimek bridges the gap between art and business in his Denver Pavilions shop, I Heart Denver, which serves as a working incubator and showcase for dozens of Colorado artists and independent companies. In the process, he's perfected the art of local branding by presenting work by an ever-growing stable of creative ambassadors in the store, where visitors to Colorado can find tangible, positive, well-designed, functional mementos of our state to take home with them.

Even his I Heart Denver shop dog, Denver Picard, gets into the act: The adorable corgi recently received a Go the Extra Mile award from Visit Denver for charming tourists and making downtown a friendlier place.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Hollis + Lana

More recently, Schimek has taken the reins for Artstir 2014, a Memorial Day weekend arts festival to be hosted at the Pavilions for its second year, and is gearing up for the holiday season at I Heart Denver by adding even more local merchandise. We asked him to to take a few minutes away from the seasonal frontlines to answer our 100CC questionnaire. Here's what he had to say:

If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

Vance Kirkland, who was the founding director of the Art School at the University of Denver. His decades-long career as a fine artist covered Designed Realism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and the well-known Dot Series work. I can't imagine how exciting it would be to work with him at a time when Denver's creative scene in contemporary culture was just being developed. Before him, there was no higher education program for the arts in Denver, and his avant-garde work is so significant that it survives today at the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, one of Denver's best museums.

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

George Takei is a cool guy and a crazy phenomenon. His fame in the social media world is bizarre and hilarious. His reinvention into contemporary sci-fi television (such as a character on Heroes and appearances on The Neighbors) just makes me super-happy. As a Trekkie, I think he used his Star Trek fame the best out of all the original series actors while always being himself, not just "Sulu."

Continue reading for more from Samuel Schimek.

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

Shrinky dinks? Of all the weird pop-culture arts and crafts that have emerged over the years, this is the one that just won't die. They're just cheap-looking no matter what -- the thin, warped plastic product always looks weird. It's a product that should be limited to a family activity for kids if it needs to remain in existence at all.

What's your day job?

I own and run I Heart Denver Store, and I'm also part of the marketing team at Denver Pavilions. At I Heart Denver Store, I spend hours marketing the goods from 160 different artists and designers each day, while also working to grow our customer base and make sure the staff members have what they need. For Denver Pavilions, I design eblasts, collaborate with community partners, produce and art-direct video and animation segments, and coordinate and consult on creative events.

When I have a little extra time, I create my own designs and sell them in the store. I develop items that fill gaps in store offerings for tourists, like shotglasses, designs that show the Denver skyline and pop-art mixed-media pieces.

Continue reading for more from Samuel Schimek.

A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

I would open my own design house and pull all the creative talent I know into one giant collaborative space with the very best resources, lighting and equipment. Something like the office of Martha Stewart, only everything would be sourced and produced here in Denver. We would roll out a new custom fabric made of all-natural fiber featuring the blue "Mustang," and in the commercials we could say, "It's a Denver thing," smile real big and have one of those little sparkles ping on our teeth.

What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?

The City and State both do a lot for creatives and are constantly striving to do even more. As part of my work at the store and my role as an arts advocate, I meet with Create Denver monthly and with Colorado Creative Industries several times a year. I feel that this year in particular they're implementing some exceptionally strong arts programs.

What artists and designers could really use is more real-time marketing from the city and the state. The social media reach of the city and state is broad, and it could have an even larger impact if there was a focus on sharing individual artists' work (new paintings or gallery openings), as well as on large-scale creative projects like new public art pieces. 

Continue reading for more from Samuel Schimek.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

I work with over 160 creatives on a daily basis, and I heart them all, but if I had to pick one today I'd go with Ink Lounge Creative, run by Nicky and Stuart Alden. They do amazing graphic design for clients, have a growing workshop program for silk screeners and put together a fun and successful art market called Holiday Mancraft.

What's on your agenda for the rest of 2013 and beyond?

I was just named creative director for ArtStir Denver, an art market at Denver Pavilions held during Memorial Day weekend. I am working to showcase local artists and bring on more community partners to elevate the event into a real Denver creative showcase. In 2014, I'll be working to make more student spaces available at ArtStir, involve other local arts markets and partner with AIGA Colorado to make the event an exciting visual experience for attendees.

Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community this year?

Locally produced brands that are using great design and developing an aesthetic that sets them apart will receive more notice in Colorado. The state is re-launching its Made in Colorado campaign as Brand Colorado, which will bring more attention to great designs produced in our state. Colorado businesses will be able to use the brand-new Peak logo on their websites, packaging, advertising and other marketing materials to identify them as Colorado businesses.

Combine state support like that with amazing up-and-coming brands like Topo Designs, Coloradical and Omerica Organic, and I think we'll notice continued growth and recognition of Colorado designed goods over the next year. For more about Samuel Schimek visit his website; get the latest on I Heart Denver online, too, or on Facebook.

Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.

Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.

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