Local artist spotlight
Local artist Bill Crowell is originally from Greensburg, about 45 minutes east of Pittsburgh. He moved to Lock Haven in 1996 to attend Lock Haven University, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic and Online Interactive Design.
Little did he know, he would meet his future wife in this small town. His wife of 12 years, Michelle, is a Lock Haven native, and the two share their Lock Haven home with their 8-year-old daughter Maia.
After graduation, Crowell found work in his field, while at the same time promoting his own personal work. He worked for a direct mail newspaper in Williamsport where he designed advertisements and restaurant menus. Later, he worked as a designer making direct-mail marketing pieces and installation manuals for hot tubs and spas for a company in Danville.
He freelanced his talents for a while before landing his current job with the Lock Haven Express over 10 years ago. Over those years, Crowell has worked his way from being the photographer and photo technician to his current position as photo and design editor.
“The best thing about making art for a living is the creative outlet it presents,” Crowell explained.
“Most artists will understand when I say that there is a drive to create that pushes us. We all have visions in our head that need to come out… Working as an artist allows me to get my ‘visions’ out for the world to see and often appreciate. It is also a cathartic release as a way to deal with certain things that happen in my life,” he continued.
Crowell said the idea of the “starving artist” still rings true today and being able to be employed as a photographer helps him hone his craft and build his audience without having to worry about paying the bills.
While Crowell appreciates and enjoys art forms of all types, his favorite medium is photography.
“While attending LHU, I was exposed to many different mediums until I found one that stuck… Although I enjoyed other mediums such as pottery, none offered the satisfaction of photography for me,” he said. “To be able to capture an exact moment in time, and preserve it forever, was really quite appealing to me. Also, being able to watch the photograph come to life through developing in the darkroom was like magic.”
Crowell said that advances in photography equipment and editing software enable him to use more of his own creative liberty and artistic freedom.
Crowell is open to admit that although he has always enjoyed art classes and creating works, “as a child in the very simple software of the late ’80s and early ’90s, I never had the passion for it until college.”
Crowell said he was somewhat lost his first few semesters in college, until he met his mentor, art professor Philip Huber, who helped him find his way.
“After I switched my major from journalism to photography, Philip helped guide me in a direction where I could be successful in a career in art. He convinced me to switch from photography to Graphic and Online Interactive Design and it was one of the best moves I could have made,” Crowell said. “This switch helped me tremendously by pairing the knowledge of photography I had learned from him with the software needed to really take my digital images to the next level. I owe a large part of where I am at today to Philip.”
Crowell’s work doesn’t focus on any specific idea or theme, but rather finds its own focus.
“Each image I produce seems to take on a life of its own. Although I may have an idea in mind sometimes, often the finished piece is far from what I thought it would be when I started,” Crowell explained.
If he had to describe his work to someone who couldn’t see it, Crowell said he would say it is vibrant, because many of his photographs contain bright and vibrant colors.
Prospering as an artist in Central Pennsylvania surely has its difficulties, Crowell explained, but he has found ways to push himself, get his work noticed and excel in the field.
“Central Pennsylvania has never, and probably never will be known as the hub of the art world, although there are a lot of tremendously talented artists living and working in the area,” he said. “While trying to gain work, it was imperative for me to ‘think outside the box,’ and try to carve out a niche for myself. A good deal of doing this was to look at the competition in the area, see what they were doing, know what I enjoy doing, and find my place.”
Crowell takes photos of just about everything, including nature scenes and public events, weddings, senior photos, sports photography and more.
Some of Crowell’s favorite artists include Trey Ratcliff, Brandon Stanton and Frank Lloyd Wright; however, he doesn’t favor a particular artistic movement or style. In addition to his artistic interests, Crowell is a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan and enjoys watching football, using computers, woodworking and building stuff, he said.
Crowell is a Clinton County Arts Council member and said he began his involvement when the CCAC was at its Main Street location, right next to The Express.
“I often stopped in as I passed it daily on my lunch break. I enjoyed seeing everyone’s creations and talking with others about art. I liked that there was a consignment shop to sell some of my pieces and the community of like-minded, art-interested individuals,” he said.