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Artist takes control of his life and work
For Derek Gores, family time is his most important consideration.
By SHERYL KAY
Published June 15, 2007
CARROLWOOD - In the corporate world, Derek Gores designed artwork for bands like the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd and Aerosmith.
He also spent more than a decade in art management for VF Imagewear, a branded apparel manufacturer that produces work for the likes of Lees, Wranglers, Vans, and more.
And while he loved the high visibility and problem-solving team atmosphere that comes with working for a company, Gores, 36, decided to strike out on his own just last month.
"I wanted to do more personal artwork with my own hands, " said Gores of Carrollwood. "And I want to have more control of my own time so I can spend more time with my family."
It was not a decision that Gores made lightly.
He's the father of three girls - Molly, 12, Allison, 8, and Kathryn, 3. Unlike some dads who feel comfortable devoting most of their time to careers, Gores has been intimately involved in raising his girls with his wife, Jamie.
He's been a soccer coach for his daughters' teams for years, and helped start up the Dads' Club at Cannella Elementary School three years ago. There he became closely involved in his daughters' education, building a club from the ground level up that had dads and their kids doing service projects for the school, and meeting for monthly social events.
Leaving the security of working for a company might afford him more control over his schedule, but might also leave the family with less financial stability. But for Gores, the benefits far outweighed the risks.
Following his artistic dreams while having more flexibility to spend time with his family has given him just the synchronicity he's been searching for, he said. Concern over the financial impact wasn't even a factor.
"Family time is priceless, " Gores said. "Instead of focusing on the money, I'm focused on my passion and conviction in what I can offer to the community through my art. If I work hard and follow what I love, I think people will respond to it."
He said he would have been more "fearful" had he not made the decision to go solo.
Gores said the bigger issue was trying to decide which of his artistic talents he should focus on.
"I enjoy many kinds of art, " he said. "But I had to decide from a clarity standpoint for myself, and for marketing, what I would pursue."
In the end, while Gores does some brand design and murals, he has chosen to specialize in portraits, particularly those that he creates from collages of scraps of paper and smaller images. He goes to great lengths getting to know his subjects' personalities, hobbies and passions, incorporating those into the portrait.
Graphic artist Wilson Williams Jr., became acquainted with Gores as the two worked together at VF for 10 years, and has seen many of Gores' portraits. One of the most striking things about Gores, Williams said, is his ability to capture and then deliver the personality of the subject in the portrait.
"He emulates these people's spirits on canvas, " said Williams, 32, of Temple Terrace. "The portrait doesn't just look like that person, it feels like that person."
But at the end of the day, Williams said that what has endeared Gores to him most is the closeness Gores shares with his family, and the way he has tried to enrich the lives of other fathers through the Dads' Club.
For example, for his family portrait painting, Gores will donate 20 percent of his commissions to AllProDad/Family First, a national dads' club organization he worked with.
"You'd be hard-pressed to find a dad that's as close or as open with his children, " Williams said. "Any move that he makes toward his own personal endeavor or career, he always puts his family first."