Art Buzz

Alumni John Yogodzinski and Casey Gleghorn
join their artistic forces to create The Graphic Hive – a studio space swarming with creativity

by Cindy Davis Meixel, photo editor. Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel.

"If you can't deal with Mr. Moyer telling you your typography (stinks), you're definitely not going to make it out here in the real world. You need to have thick skin."

Casey Gleghorn, '09, left, and John Yogodzinski, '07, founded The Graphic Hive, a graphic design and website- services company, in 2009.

Graphic design alumnus Casey Gleghorn, '09, quips about his college experiences (including classes with David M. Moyer, instructor of graphic design) and evolving insights as a young entrepreneur. He and John Yogodzinski, graphic communications management, '07, are fairly recent graduates, but in many ways, they sound like seasoned work veterans. A year and a half ago, the duo launched their own innovative graphic design and website services business – The Graphic Hive – which is already landing clients across the nation and creating a buzz in the evolving, energized Williamsport art scene.

“Sometimes you fail, especially when you're first starting out, but you have to get back up and dust yourself off and try something else.”

"When I graduated, I got a job in my field, but I wasn't happy with it, so I took a risk and left. At the next job, I ended up with bad shifts, but I applied what I learned and moved on," offered Yogodzinski. "Sometimes you fail, especially when you're first starting out, but you have to get back up and dust yourself off and try something else."

Yogodzinski's third job was a charm – working in marketing and information technology at Supply Source Inc. in Williamsport. Through connections there, he became involved in the local arts scene, and that led him to Gleghorn. They had had only one class together at Pennsylvania College of Technology but were aware of each other's artistic and entrepreneurial interests. Yogodzinski approached Gleghorn to design a logo for a local arts organization he was helping to promote. Later, the two decided to join their individual freelance forces into an official business venture.

The Graphic Hive studio enjoys bright light in its loft-like space.

"I called John and said, I want to take this to another level,'" Gleghorn said. "I knew he was a very motivated person and so am I, but in addition to that, John is everything I'm not. He's the business side of the partnership. He's very organized. And he's better at dealing with certain clients than I am."

Gleghorn added, with a laugh, "For example, one of our recent clients wouldn't still be our client if I was talking with them."

Yogodzinksi concurred: "I know when to get involved, when I should step in. I'm a listener, a planner, a thinker. I'm the organizer; he's the collector. Casey is definitely more outgoing. He's good at relationship-building and networking. I keep to myself. I'm quiet. It's a good balance."

Networking is a hallmark of The Graphic Hive, according to Gleghorn, who said the business name arrived after a long, creative process over four months. In one of his sketchbooks, Gleghorn toyed with numerous designs and names – some hilarious, others horrible, but all just chalked up as part of the creative compost. And then, one day, Gleghorn drew a beehive and The Graphic Hive was born. "It made sense," he said. "A hive is a collective of individuals and a collective of ideas. Our business is built on relationship-building and networking."

Small connections lead to big outcomes. As an example, the Hive guys are trying to land a client in North Dakota. (The anonymous client would, indeed, be an impressive one.) The young entrepreneurs got their foot in this particular door with the old knowing-someone-who-knows-someone-who-knows-someone method.

This is the same way the talented duo signed a customer in Hawaii. Gleghorn's sister's husband is a pro golf instructor at a resort there. That connection opened the door, but the designers had to walk through with great ideas and equally great skills. They then parlayed their creative and technical talents into a website for Turtle Bay Resort on the island of Oahu, www.stayatturtlebay.com.

In both of those out-of-state scenarios, the Penn College alumni have utilized modern technology to get and stay connected. Skype has been a great resource for conference calls and video chatting; Dropbox is used to easily share large files and keep clients up-to-date on their projects' status. Such are the ways that the business world continues to evolve with potentially lucrative outreach beyond one's own community.

A playful sticky-note mural, created by John Yogodzinski, brings a splash of color to one of The Pajama Factory's open spaces.

Still, local clients are the core of their business. The Graphic Hive's first major client was Wild Mountain Gourmet, a gourmet mustards and sauces company based in Montoursville. Around the time that the small business's beautifully designed website (www.wildmountaingourmet.com) launched, Wild Mountain Gourmet captured Grand Champion honors, plus gold and bronze medals, at the 2010 Napa Valley Mustard Competition. Online sales skyrocketed.

Yogodzinski points proudly to a unique feature on the Wild Mountain Gourmet site that allows customers to "design their own basket." Another website feature the Hive guys are proud of is the Japanese translation that is part of the Turtle Bay site. They outsourced the copywriting to achieve both English and Japanese translations, since the resort draws clientele from diverse cultures.

In July 2010, the duo stopped working out of their homes and local coffee shops and acquired studio space in The Pajama Factory, a historic manufacturing complex in Williamsport's West End that is stirring with new life and artists' studios.

Gleghorn and Yogodzinski are both inspired by the creative energy and artistic camaraderie at the facility. With its large, open spaces, the building is an ideal setting for balancing work and play.

Besides operating their design business at The Pajama Factory, the duo has added new roles as art curators by exhibiting the work of local and nonlocal artists in their studio gallery space, as well as locations throughout the complex. By actively promoting the exhibits, they use the outreach venture as a tool to promote The Graphic Hive. Two of the most notable artists they've drawn in for exhibits are Christina Varga, of Woodstock, N.Y., and Luke Yocum, based in Chelsea, N.Y.

"We want to take the town of Williamsport and bring the outside in and take the inside out," asserted Gleghorn. "We want to help the local art scene. There's a phenomenal amount of talent right here in Williamsport, Pennsylvania."

Casey Gleghorn is the outgoing half of the business duo and has helped the company build relationships and get its foot into some impressive clients' doors.

In addition to his advertising wizardry, Gleghorn is a large-scale mural artist. Most recently, he designed and painted a mural in the community of Lewisburg.

The design process for his murals is not unlike the process for smaller-scale creations – they all start in a sketchbook.

"Everything we create goes through an extensive design process," Yogodzinski said. "We start most projects with pen-and-paper sketches first and try to narrow it down until an excellent design emerges. We are always striving to create something a little more innovative than the next guy."

Gleghorn added: "With every client, we learn more – what can we do different the next time, how can we make this or that better, how can we speed up our workload. We're always learning."

The designers are keenly aware of the reciprocal relationship with their clients. "We want our clients to succeed as much as we want to succeed on our own," said Yogodzinski. "It's in our own best interest to treat the clients fairly and help them out in hopes that their improved business will keep them coming back for bigger and better things from us."

Yogodzinski credits part of his business sense to his graphic communications courses and the student organizations he was involved in at Penn College. "The graphic communications major was all about running a business and business ethics. That really helped," he explained. "In high school, I wasn't involved in any student organizations, but in college, I joined Gamma Epsilon Tau (a co-ed graphic communications and graphic design fraternity) and was involved in some other groups, and I believe all of that helped me get more organized and manage my time better."

Yogodzinski continues to hold his full-time job at Supply Source while working nights and weekends at the Hive. "When I'm not there, I'm here," he said. His hopes for the future are "to make this a profitable venture so I don't have to work two jobs."

Gleghorn, who can be found at the design studio nearly every day and night, also has his sights set on the future. "I'd rather be art directing than designing," he said. "I want to have offices in here with designers sitting at desks some day."

Their visions for the future appear to be grounded in the reality and lessons of the past.

"A lot of kids in college complain that the graphic design professors are really hard on them, but that's nothing compared to what they're going to experience when they get out of school," Gleghorn advised. "They're going to have to bleed, suffer and live through the hardest of times. Some people are born into money or they're set up in business – not us. We're scratching our way to the top from the bottom."

The young entrepreneurs note that The Graphic Hive is poised to make as much as it did last year in the first quarter of this year.

For more information on the enterprise, visit: thegraphichive.com.

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