Meet Joe Bourke
COW Leaders : Joe BourkeCreative COW Forum Host, Web Writer, Contributing Editor
Joe’s interest in graphics started at an early age. He grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts with a father who was Art Director at Radio Shack, and watched the creative design process over his dad’s shoulder, helping out in the darkroom frequently. “At the age of twelve I was given a Yashica reflex camera, and from then on I took photographs anywhere and everywhere.”
His interest in art led to a devotion to music, and by the age of eighteen, Joe was playing out in the Boston area with various rock bands, playing bass and woodwinds. “I earned a living from music from 1968 to 1982, at which point I burned out from being on the road.” Joe settled in Rochester, New York, and began doing voice work for regional radio and television commercials. This turned into a job at an ad agency which specialized in broadcast media. “I was doing radio and TV voice-overs, writing copy, gripping on 16mm film shoots for clients such as Kodak, Bausch and Lomb, and loads of smaller regional accounts. It was never boring, and I picked up a lot of skills by having to learn everything.”
In 1984, Joe moved to NH, closer to where he had grown up, and started freelancing as a writer/producer for local and regional clients. Once again this turned into a regular job. “I was offered the job as Creative Director at a local cable station, and couldn’t say no. I was responsible for selling, writing, producing, sometimes shooting, and editing industrials for a wide variety of clients, from regional housing authorities to air compressor manufacturers. At the time we were shooting on ¾” tape and editing on a Palco A/B roll edit controller – it was all analog, and our CG was a Chyron VP2, one of the slowest boxes I’ve ever worked on. But at that time it was the ONLY CG technology.”
After a few years in cable TV, Joe founded a small ad agency with a partner, and continued on in the same vein, producing advertising, mostly for electronic media, for a variety of local and regional clients. “We added a small audio recording studio and produced our own radio spots. We also bought our first PC, a Tandy 1000, and I quickly became hooked on the technology.” After three years as an owner/manager, Joe got tired of “driving a desk”, and decided to get back in the freelance world. “I found a job just up the road as a studio cameraman for a new company called PCTV, owned by PC Connection, one of the larger sellers of computers and technology. The job proved to be very interesting, because the show was based around reviews of computers and software.
After a few months of studio camera work, Joe was offered the job of Associate Producer and took it. “I knew how to write and produce, and I knew that I was really interested in computers and technology, so it was a perfect fit.” He ended up co-producing a weekly show on computers and software that was on the air for the next four years. “I quickly went from writing and producing to hosting many of the on-air segments and demos of computers and software. It was a really exciting time: Photoshop and Illustrator had just come into their own, fighting tooth and nail with CorelDRAW, the NEXT computer was showing what the future of graphics could be, Yamaha was breaking new ground with affordable synthesizers that sounded really good, and inkjet technology was bringing higher end graphics to everyone’s desktop.” Plus 3D software was just beginning to be developed for the personal computer, and it showed the promise of creating images that looked real on the desktop. “I got to use just about every graphics package that came through the show, from the Aldus products, Pagemaker and Freehand, to Photoshop and Illustrator, Canvas, Infini-D and Truespace, and many others that no longer exist, or were absorbed by the competition.”
After four years, and a move up to Producer, Joe decided he wanted to do just one thing, and do it well. “I had had enough with the many hats I had to wear as Producer, and the writing was on the wall in terms of what I liked to do most: Graphics! I started looking at job offerings, and three weeks and one resume later, I was hired as Art Director at WMUR-TV, an ABC affiliate in Manchester, New Hampshire. “I’ve been there ever since, and I love it, although the idea of just doing one thing has kind of got lost. I get to do graphic design for everything from client logos to motion graphics, to building and truck signage, to Christmas cards! I have to pinch myself every morning, because I’m actually getting paid to use Photoshop, Illustrator, 3D Studio Max, After Effects, Combustion…I can’t believe how lucky I am! As Art Director, I’m responsible for a team of three Graphic Artists, and we put out a high volume of graphics for Newscasts, Promotions, Commercial Production, you name it, and we do it!” Joe has been at WMUR-TV for twelve years, “but who’s counting? I love my job, and hope to be at it another twelve years.”
When Joe isn’t doing graphics, he’s playing bass with some local friends who get together weekly, studying Mandarin Chinese, or tinkering with his fleet of Gravely two-wheel tractors.
You can find Joe Bourke hosting in Creative COW's and Autodesk 3ds Max Forum.