A local outsider since he was born and raised in Houston, Texas, Dick Clarke has had quite a journey in his life. While it may be what others may call free time, he has made a glamorous living out of whatever he loves to do and will truly show that doing what you love will make you feel satisfied in any job must meet her on the street that leaves the fresh breath of every day.
Straight out of high school, a time when many people are still uncertain, Clarke found a way to rewrite the stereotypes and plunged straight into a life of adventure and experience.
“Two weeks after throwing my graduation cap in the air, I moved to the Caribbean where I worked on a program teaching kids to scuba dive, also while doing a lot of marine ecology work and sea turtle trapping and tagging research. But I soon realized that being a dive instructor wasn’t my passion for the rest of my life, so I moved back to Texas and considered maybe working at NASA, in their zero-gravity tank, to scuba dive. But the guy leading it, who happened to be a friend of my old employer, was in Russia with the cosmonauts at the time,” Clarke said. “Instead, I started working in my family’s interior design business. Then I quickly realized that I really do have a passion for interior design, so I worked for the company on and off during my student days.”
As Clarke continued to work in the interior design industry, he began commercial work, focusing on the multi-family aspects of it all. His passion for fashion soon ignited and he founded an organization called STRUT with one of his best friends. He started out as a community group and produced a variety of events. Gradually he started doing catwalk shows and sometimes even filmed TV spots for different designers – all with the intention of growing the fashion community as a whole.
Clarke later turned his business into an online publication. He hired photographers and writers to cover all manner of fashion events, eventually working his way up to attend New York Fashion Week. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he gave up this dream due to a lack of events and started working as a stylist’s assistant for a while.
But Clarke’s opportunities were never short, so he once again found a way to fit his hobbies into his work life by turning to the art of capturing painterly moments through a lens.
“I quickly got into photography and have done a lot of everything from editorial and product photography to event photography and portraiture. Shortly after rekindling that interest, we decided to move here to Indiana,” he said.
While it’s usually baffling to switch states after spending most of his life in one, Clarke’s transition to Indiana was relatively smooth. He has been living in Valpo for two months now and helps run his wife’s family’s two pre-schools.
The rush of hopping around will upset anyone, even if it’s just a light jostle. However, what’s important for anyone who happens to embark on this sort of pilgrimage is to remember that there’s still room to have fun, something Clarke never forgot.
“I really enjoyed everything. I mean, the two big things I did with the interior design and the fashion publication were always kind of scattered, but I’ve had a blast and have since learned how to maintain a good workflow,” he said. “Fashion is inherently chaotic and dealing with all the personalities you deal with makes you think that things don’t always go so smoothly.”
Although he misses the diversity of the big city of Houston, Clarke has been able to excel in a smaller city environment since coming to the Midwest. He’s given everything he’s got into his latest ventures, which include all the positions he’s held at Running Vines Winery and Aftermath Cidery and Winery (Events Manager/Producer, Social Media Manager, Photographer and Head of Branding).
“With the deal, we decided to go in a different direction with our events. We stopped hosting small private events like baby showers etc and are now moving into larger, more community events. It’s partly me. I have a huge passion for community and community growth, and I’m also just used to producing bigger events.
We’re moving in that direction now, so I spend most of my time coming up with event concepts and seeing how practical it is to run those events,” said Clarke. “However, I do a lot of product photography every day. We’ve also started to do more model-style personal things so that word of our products spreads.”
It’s clear that Clarke has been a busy bee for most of his adult life, but that wouldn’t be without some prominent sources of inspiration — those sources are always something that’s necessary for anyone in any walk of life to feel motivated to keep going.
“I grew up on my father’s side of the family so there is a lot of public service in my background. My great-grandfather’s Admiral Burton, who was an Antarctic explorer. It’s one of the reasons we’re not allowed to drill for oil in Antarctica. He did a lot of research, and his siblings were in politics, like Senator Robert Byrd of Virginia, the longest-serving Senator in US history. My grandmother, the admiral’s daughter, knew people like Jacques Cousteau and grew up teasing with Eleanor Roosevelt. Family gatherings were certainly interesting, and there was always a sense that everyone was doing what they were doing for the greater good, which has always inspired me,” Clarke said.
He describes himself as someone with great passion, someone who appreciates being outgoing, and there is no doubt that Clarke has done and will continue to do a variety of selfless things that inspire community engagement. With its long-term goal of transforming the cities of Valpo and Chesterton into cultural centers of prosperity, the sky is the limit. Let’s just hope he finds some time to indulge in what seems to be his only hobby, researching the strange little critters he’s been exposed to since moving to Indiana.