Today we’d like to introduce you to Ronald White.
Ronald, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Art is my passion and I have been an artist and graphic designer for most of my life. The Pencil fighters brand emerged as I spoke at San Diego’s High Tech High School during their yearly career week event. Across the country school budgets are regularly cut and the first subjects to take a hit are art and music. As I was speaking with students one-on-one I became aware that they did not fully realize they could earn a living as a graphic designer, illustrator, or other types of creative artist.
I saw their eyes light up as they asked to know more. As it had always been such an important part of my life I empathized with these students who made me realize without art in schools their imaginations would not be nurtured and may eventually fade away. Thus was born my battle cry, “Defend the Arts!” and The Pencil Fighters was created.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The process of building this brand has been as they say, “building the plane while it’s in the air”. I decided to start the process not fully knowing if or how it would succeed, and along the way figured slow progress is better than no progress.
Once I decided on the name of the company and what my initial goals were, I needed to come up with a plan of attack. This included the look of the brand and bringing awareness to it, creating artwork and a website to sell a product, getting the product produced and finding opportunities to sell it, funding for everything, and the list goes on. Even though it is not a smooth road each bump along this ride teaches me something new.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
The Pencil Fighters emphasizes art and the importance of the creative process. Through the designs I envision, the merchandise I create, and the products I sell I hope to keep art alive in schools and in everyday life.
Currently, the most popular products are enamel pins, patches, graphic T-shirts, and skateboard decks. What sets me apart is the overall theme of art intertwined with the military and pop culture.
For example, I transform different types of traditional military weaponry into creative “guns” (pens, pencils, paintbrushes, etc.) which are used to create instead of destroying, hence the battle cry of “Defend the Arts!”
What were you like growing up?
Growing up my father was in the United States Navy which meant we moved around quite a bit (San Diego, Guam, Michigan, Honolulu, and back to San Diego, Honolulu… you get the idea) which made me a shy and quiet kid. I went to 3 different elementary schools, 3 junior high schools, and luckily 1 high school. Drawing superheroes and reading comic books was my comfort zone and playing football and basketball was how I made friends.
And although very different, art and athletics were equally as exciting and important to me. A sense of humor and laughter was, and still is, a part of my personality and growing up it was my way to fit in. As a kid, I always tried to find new jokes and magic tricks to make people laugh. Although making friends was hard, saying “goodbye” was a bummer but it taught me how to be resilient, move on, and grow.
- Enamel Pins – $10
- Embroidered Patches – $8
- Website: www.thepencilfighters.com
- Instagram: pencil_fighters