ELDORADO -- Creating drawings may have started out as a hobby for Brad Owens, but today it's also his career.
Owens, who originally lived in Harrisburg, is the owner of Snake Productions in Eldorado, his graphic design company. Owens said though he's had his share of difficulties, the encouragement of family and friends, particularly his wife Savannah, he is earning a living with his graphic design company.
"I make logos, flyers, lyric videos, album art, anything promotional, really," Owens said. "If you can make money off of it, I probably can do it."
As a young teenager, Owens learned to love creative design.
"When I was about 13, I was always infatuated with drawing. I drew things, things that were different and made people kind of wonder," he said.
At around the same time, his parents divorced, which was emotionally difficult for the young man.
"When you're 13, that's something that's kind of hard to take," he said. "I realized I had two options. I could be like everbody else, or I could stand out."
He stayed with art through high school, then got a job at McDonalds. He made an investment with his first earnings.
"I took a whole month's paycheck and rented a computer. I buried my head under it," he said. "I had a lot of sleepness nights, and there was a lot of annoying people with my work, but I just had to keep going."
He credits former Harrisburg High School art teacher Barb Allen with giving him the positive motivation he needed at a critical point in his fledgling artwork.
"I had Mrs. Allen in art in high school, and I knew I was onto something when I made a charcoal painting of "The Rock" and she kept it," he said. "It gave me a sense of pride."
He later got a job at Computer Zone in Harrisburg and worked there until the business closed.
Fast forwarding a few years, Owens decided to enroll in Full Sail University and earn a bachelor's degree in graphic design. Last year, he also earned a certificate for media relations.
"I can make a press release, or a pretty little picture," he said with a laugh.
A chance encounter at the Du Quoin State Fair kicked his career into high gear, he said.
"I did flyers for the Du Quoin State Fair for (the bands) Trapt and Theory of a Dead Man," he said. "It just so happens because I was making the flyers, they gave me tickets and said enjoy the show. As I was walking down the concourse, there was a guy standing there all in black and he was messing with some shirts."
It turned out the man was the drum technician for Trapt and was doubling as their merchandising person. After a brief conversation, the two exchanged information and Owens thought he might have a chance to do some graphic work for the band. However, after not hearing from the band for about three weeks, he took matters into his own hands.
"I finally went to their Web site and sent a message to their e-mail. It turned out it was the lead singer's personal e-mail and he contacted me," Owens said. "I started off with those guys doing their Web site, then doing flyer work and going on tour with them and making promotional videos."
He has continued to do additional work for them, he said.
"I was in the right place at the right time. That's what you have to do," he said. "You have to stand out. That first, big world wide release when they were on iTunes and in all the stores, that's a moment in time I'll never forget."
He is quick to credit his wife Savannah with supporting him in his work.
"I love what I do. I don't think I would trade it for anything in the world, but none of this ever would have happened if my wife hadn't pushed me to go back to school," he said. "She's my rock, my everything. She keeps me going when it seems like sometimes I'm digging from scratch. She gives me the motivation to do something again, when I've done it wrong the first time."
He also maintains a Web site at www.snake-productions.com that features his band clients, examples of his work and, because he's a huge baseball fan, his "augmented" images of Major Leage Baseball stars.
"I'm a big Cardinals guy. They've always been my team, and I wanted to take something like a baseball card and put my signature on it," he said.
To that end, he has a series of MLB cards, mostly with Cardinals players but a couple of Chicago Cubs and some hockey players, that use a certified MLB image which he alters slightly to make a unique imaging. He sells copies of these for $25 apiece through his Web site. His image of Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is his best seller, he said.
The images are popular enough that when he met Fox Sports Midwest Cardinals broadcaster Dan McLaughlin, the sports announcer asked Owens if he could create one for him.
"I made one for him and he gave me tickets to the show," Owens said.
While Owens continues to enjoy the success of his talent and determination, he said the most rewarding aspect is seeing his children follow in his footsteps.
He and Savannah have four children, and when they show an interest in drawing themselves, it gives his work more meaning, he said.
"My little 6-year-old said 'I want to learn how to do that,'" he said. "It gives you a sense of pride, a certain high you can't come off of. It's something you can teach her, and if she picks it up, maybe she doesn't have to go to college to be successful."