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Creative Spirit: Stephen Gray-Blancett

When Fort Myers' Stephen Gray-Blancett started doing graphic design 20-some years ago, his computer "cost more than $30,000 and broke down at least once a week." He built a strong design business, nonetheless; but now he's focusing on painting, though he still designs materials for such charities as Friends-Together and Island Coast AIDS Network. At first, he says, it was hard to get over the need to please, so he tackled non-threatening scenics. "Now I create things that are abstract, bright, colorful and sexy. It's me being me."

Design hero? Charles Spencer Anderson. He designed the packaging for Classico spaghetti sauce. People were buying it two-to-one over other brands, even though it was more expensive and didn't taste a whole lot different. His style is a Superman comic book with a touch of art deco.

How has Southwest Florida influenced your work? I'm inspired by the abundance of talent. We have three of America's finest artists here: Jonathan Green, Darryl Pottorf and Robert Rauschenberg. And local graphic designers have a quality of work that pushes others to be more creative.

What can't you live without? Color.

Worst design trend you see? Following trends. A good designer should be creative and original.

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