When Jesse Kuhn first started at St. Charles Community College, he couldn’t imagine a career in art, his passion. He had planned to study physical therapy, but after taking an art elective, he found his calling.
“The drawing class at SCC reignited my creative bone from my high school days,” Jesse said. “It was the gateway to my career in art.”
And he’s had quite the successful career. Jesse’s art was featured in a McDonald’s billboard advertisement for its Filet-O-Fish sandwich in March 2011.
Before attending SCC, Jesse didn’t know about graphic design. He quickly learned that it was his future.
“I had this stereotype in my mind of the ‘starving artist,’” he said. “And I thought that was the only kind of artist you could be, so I ruled it out as a profession.”
Once he learned how to make a career out of his hobby, he took as many art classes at SCC as he could, taking as many as 23 hours in a semester. “I basically lived out of my car on the SCC parking lot,” Jesse said. “I was always in class because I wanted to get the most out of my education.”
Jesse received guidance from one of his professors, and now good friend and colleague, Brian Smith, who encouraged him to continue exploring the world of art.
Following his graduation from SCC, Jesse spent the summer studying art animation at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. “I wanted to study with other artists,” he said. “I guess I just needed that art-college fix, but I was too broke to stay longer than one semester.”
It wasn’t the first time he had been New York. His first trip was with the SCC Art Club and it inspired him to go to school and live there. After his summer at Parsons, Jesse fell in love with the Big Apple.
“I loved New York, but I knew I couldn’t stay there and go to school,” Jesse said. “So I came back home and enrolled at Missouri State University.”
Jesse earned a transfer scholarship at MSU for two years of paid tuition. “At first I didn’t want to move back to Missouri, but once I started school I didn’t want to stop,” he said. He earned his art degree with a minor in marketing and advertising.
After graduation, Jesse got a job at an advertising agency, but also worked on a side project: creating his own children’s book series, The Quirkles. Between working at the agency and trying to get his books published, Jessed was logging 60+ hours a week.
“I wasn’t sure how long I could keep it up – working two jobs,” Jesse said. He decided to strike out on his own. He quit his job at the advertising agency, moved in with his parents and started his own publishing company with a couple of friends, called Creative 3.
He found another agency job, but his heart wasn’t in it; it was in New York City. Two weeks later, he broke the news to his loved ones – he was bound for NYC where he started his own company, Raw Toast Design.
He’s back to doing what he loves – illustrations. “I make stuff and I get to play for a living – I have a lot of fun with my work,” he said. “It was the best decision I ever made. I carry my entire company in my laptop bag and I get to travel – it’s everything I ever wanted.”