David Wink on starting Retro-Works Studio
David Wink has had a decades-long career as a successful freelance illustrator. Then life took a turn.
“I turned to art because I had the ability to draw,” Wink said. “At one point, I wanted to be an architect but I didn’t like the technical side. I never thought I would be a partner in a cabinetmaking and furniture business.
Today, Wink works with his father, retired dentist Dr. Ray Wink, in their Retro-Works studio. It was created, as their website states, “over a pint of beer and a dream of creating and working together.”
“As a child, I was a keen observer of my father when he was building or carving things out of wood,” he noted. “I think I made a few wooden skateboards, but I was mostly interested in art and illustration – not pursuing anything in woodworking.
Then life took a few turns.
“The Retro-Works studio was launched as a result of two simultaneous events: my father’s retirement and the sale of his dental practice and the fact that I was fired from my job as Art Director in Westerville,” recalls wink.
“We had no idea what we were actually going to manufacture and try to sell,” he added. “But after a few years what started as a hobby suddenly took off and we’ve had fairly steady business since then. We started with about eight items for sale and now offer over 50 items. I’m the manager of the website (Etsy Shop), the designer of almost everything we make, and the artist of the paint and finish.
Now 61, Wink grew up in Marion, attended Indian Mound Elementary and Baker Middle School, then graduated from Harding in 1979. He received a BFA from Columbus College of Art & Design in 1983 with a major in illustration and a minor in advertising design.
“From the moment I knew there was a job like ‘freelance illustrator,’ that’s what I wanted to do,” Wink said. “Working from home and being your own boss was just as appealing 40 years ago as it is today.”
“My career began at the Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspapers as a newsroom artist,” he continued. “It was there that I learned how to create finished works of art under tight deadlines. I also met many very talented people with whom I remain in touch today. Overall, a first fantastic work experience.
Wink left Atlanta newspapers and returned to Marion in 1996. Since then he has also worked as an illustrator for a book publisher and art director for an advertising agency.
“In addition to being a very talented illustrator, David is very good at dealing with clients,” assessed his father and business partner, Dr. Ray Wink, who is now, incidentally, 89 years old.
“He’s honest, fair and even-tempered,” Dr. Wink added. “As for the business side of Retro-Works, it is well organized and meets our deadlines. He is also very particular about the quality of our products, never allowing any of our pieces to be shipped unless they represent our best work. That’s why we continue to get high marks in our customer reviews.
“I really like the idea of being able to create something that someone else might find desirable,” said David Wink. “Whether it’s an illustration, a painted sign or a coffee table, it always gives me satisfaction. Perhaps the greatest joy is when a customer says, ‘It’s better than what I was hoping for!”
He also loves the opportunity to work and spend quality time with his dad. “I was lucky to choose the right path in life,” added Wink.
For more information, visit retroworksstudio.com.
Aces of Trades is a weekly series about people and their jobs – whether it’s unusual jobs, fun jobs, or people who take ordinary jobs and make them extraordinary. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, let us know at [email protected]