September 25, 2007
Tim Stedman '08 seems pretty average strolling about campus -- friendly, wearing a t-shirt and jeans. But he was once the sought after designer that finagled CD art work for musical talents such as Roy Orbison, LIVE, Blink 182, New Found Glory, RXBandits, The Starting Line and Allister, to name a few.
Stedman walked away from the fat paychecks and hobnobbing with celebrities, with dignity intact to accomplish something that means so much to him. "It is about educating myself. I feel like I have earned the opportunity to come back and do this."
He came to Knox from Los Angeles for what he calls a traditional education. This non-traditional student has been at Knox College for almost three years, and he says that a lot of his experiences have been traditional. Stedman however is anything but.
Knox currently has 40 students classified as non-traditional, a classification for students that are a little older than the average college student. Stedman walked away from a vice president/creative director position with MCA Records, a division of Universal Music Group, the world's largest record studio, to go back to college ... Knox College.
Stedman spent this past summer working for Lyle Lovett. And if you need any confirmation of his graphic design talents, check out the cover on Lovett's latest CD, It's Not Big It?s Large. The CD recently debuted at number two on the Billboard country chart. Lovett met Stedman at the beginning of his tenure at MCA Records in Los Angeles, and the two have collaborated on many projects and remained very good friends.
But on campus, Stedman is just the guy that sticks to his studies, paints oil on canvas in the Center for Fine Arts, or sips coffee as he visits with other students at the Gizmo during a break between classes.
A studio art major/art history minor, Stedman says he is not currently pursuing graphic design. "One of the reasons I chose not to pursue it was a feeling of completeness. My change isn't about not liking graphic design, but about changing it up and discovering another part of myself."
He sought a "well-rounded college," he says and considered Ivy League schools throughout the United States and Canada. His mother suggested Knox College. "Having moved back to Central Illinois, she knew that Knox was a great liberal arts college and might be what I was looking for," he says. His mother's good friend, Jane Johnson (Knox College 2002 honorary doctorate recipient) also nudged him to consider Knox. "I visited the campus and found it had all the qualities I wanted in a school."
Stedman says he wants to separate himself from the other traditional students as little as possible. "When I came to Knox, I wasn't required to take FP (first-year preceptorial, a class designed to engage them in talking and writing about important ideas of the past several thousand years), but I specifically took FP to have the same experience as all the rest of the students I go to school with. I like being here and have friends here that I will have for a long time. I meet really interesting people that have interesting things going on. I'm on this campus as much as possible; my friends are on this campus. I attend events on this campus," he says.
Referring to the once-famed mogul responsible for art directing nine of his last CDs, Lovett says, "Throughout my career I have been fortunate to work with talented people. He is accomplished, well respected and established in the industry. I have to admire that he would leave a very good job and go back to school for his own personal growth. That says a lot."
So now, three years after walking away from a lucrative career, Stedman is perfectly content with himself and his decision. He says as much while he pushes himself from the table and heads back to his canvas and paints.