Meet Captain Ken.
His real title is creative director, but he prefers Captain Ken. We all think it’s his attempt at revenge for always being picked last on the playground. (Better late then never, right?)
As creative director at WestmorelandFlint, Ken Zakovich leads the creative team and oversees the quality of work that comes out of our Duluth office. You might remember reading about him and his Flint Group colleague whose logo designs were selected for publication in Logo Lounge Volume 7.
Birding is a verb.
Just about every other weekend, Ken and his 12-year-old son Bridger strap on their hiking boots, gather their binoculars and – with cameras as ammo – the two outdoorsmen go birding. Personally, I think it’s a bit odd that you can just “verb” an animal. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if soon we hear about people going deering, chipmunking or mongoosing.
But all grammar aside, Ken and Bridger are birders. Their father-son ritual involves romping in the woods looking for, and taking pictures of, birds. I’ve included a few pictures of his birding adventures he share with me.
Ken showed me the website he and Bridger started to share their birding photos, TweetandChirp.com. He also told me about Bridger’s personal birding blog – pretty impressive for a 12-year-old, eh?
Ken says bird photography – an activity he describes as “lovable, educational and intoxicating” – has given him and Bridger a deeper understanding of the area where they live, its feathered inhabitants and the beauty that surrounds them.
“We are so fortunate to live here,” said Ken. “I hope these experiences last Bridger his entire life.”
A born birder
When I asked Ken where his passion for birding comes from, he told me about a book he read when he was a kid.
“My mom had an old field guide of birds, and she would mark which birds visited our feeder. As my own children started to grow, and their fascination with the birds at the feeders increased, it was only natural that we would take to the trails and go to where the birds are – to see the birds on their terms,” Ken said.
He recently took a wood media storage cabinet he built for Bridger and decoupaged it with pages from the field guide that ignited his passion for birding.
He’s also replaced the asphalt shingles of his family’s house with bird feathers he’s collected over the years.
Okay, okay; that last part isn’t true. But he does pursue his hobby with fervor.
“I’ve told my wife to speak up when I become ‘the crazy bird man.’ Then it’s probably time to try something new,” said Ken.
Which came first, the birding or the design?
It’s a toss-up, but one thing’s for certain – Ken’s passion for birding and his love of design go hand in hand. In fact, Ken says the two pursuits fuel each other.
“The people I know and the things I learn at work support my passions outside of work. In the same respect, the experiences and barrier-free creativity outside of work provide new avenues and balanced directions for when I’m at work,” he said.
Ken’s motto for life – whether it’s birding, designing (i.e., hatching ideas) or, heck, even eating Mexican food – is that it’s good to jump in.
He said, “What’s more important, is your willingness to start and learn as you go.”
Sharing his adventures
“We have so much free stuff available to us and more people should use and support these areas so they always remain around and protected for everyone to enjoy,” said Ken.
Ken compiled a list of some great state- and government-funded places that he and Bridger visit most often. Check out the list below and go on a birding adventure of your own!
Canosia State Wildlife Management Area
Morgan Park Mudflats
Scenic Highway 61
Get to know a Flintster: Q + A with Ken!
What’s your dream job?
My dream job is being an electrician. It is similar to what I do now, in the sense of taking risks, however, if you make a mistake your life truly is in jeopardy.
Which job would you not want to have?
Shoveling sled dog poop at Beland’s Border Lakes Wilderness Canoe Trips in Ely, Minn.
What was your first job?
Shoveling sled dog poop.
What did it teach you?
Not to ever shovel sled dog poop.
What is one thing you’d be willing to practice for an hour a day?
Guitar – I am on and off practicing, and I would love to dedicate time. I’ve relearned the chords about eight times now.
What’s the best advice you ever got?
Just jump in – sometimes I think too much.
What sound do you love?
Bike tires on gravel in early spring, birds singing in early morning, and firing up a table saw.
What scent do you love?
Dead leaves. If they made an aromatic candle of dead leaves, I would buy it. But that sounds like a fire hazard.