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David Locke Finds Fulfillment with New Directions

Anderson Artists Guild member David Locke spent over two decades building his own business, only to walk away from it a few years ago. And he couldn’t be happier.

An Anderson native, Locke started a graphic design business as a high school senior and kept it going while he double majored in graphic design and interior design at Anderson College. After graduation, he worked at the Belton Center for the Arts for six months but decided in 2003 to operate Locke Design full time.

At its peak, the full-service ad agency had a staff of 12 that developed brands for companies of all sizes, from small local firms to global multibillion-dollar corporations. Brand development included everything from logos to ad campaigns to stationary to vehicle signage. He also did textile and package designs featured at Walmart, Costco, and Joann Fabrics. Clients ranged from the Anderson Chamber of Commerce to a fashion company in New York City to Trendset Inc., which had offices in Greenville, Mexico City, and London and which provided freight audit and payment services to companies such as Maybelline and Caterpillar. Another client was in Brisbane, Australia. He also traveled a lot, especially for commercial photography, including a trip to Mexico.

He also opened a side business, Black Truffle Photography, which sent him all over the Southeast to photograph weddings.

Locke built his business primarily through networking and by hosting events such as a monthly business breakfast and a monthly cocktail party. And he loved it. “One day I’d be working for a dentist, the next day designing for a concrete company, then for a fashion company in New York,” he said. “I learned about so many people’s businesses. I really enjoyed seeing a logo I’d designed on a truck or billboard. The year before I closed the business, I was where I always wanted to be. It was my dream job.”

But it also came with great stress. “Locke Design’s photography was mostly portraiture, which is stressful performance art,” he said. “You have to create that piece of art but also remember all the technical details and pose the person and make them comfortable. It’s rewarding but tense.”

The stress led to seizures and atrial fibrillation—and a career change. Locke closed his company and took over the management of his family’s business, the 52-unit Northgate Apartments. He loves the new flexibility and steadiness it provides, the freedom from deadlines and having to get and please clients.

He also has more time for his own artwork, which has evolved, as well. A photographer known for his long-exposure night shots of light, motion, architecture and landscapes, he’s been experimenting with painting over his photos with acrylics. He starts with a photo manipulated in Photoshop to saturate and alter the colors, then builds up an impasto surface over it for an impressionistic effect.

He’s also building a Japanese garden that he hopes to open to local charities. And he writes a blog about cooking, gardening, and travel. You can read it at

1 Comment

Debbie Bzdyl
Debbie Bzdyl
Jun 09, 2021

David is a true Renaissance man. Great article.


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