Wesley Poole
Wesley Poole had a 25 year career designing wine labels in the Napa Valley for wineries the world over. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Poole moved to Hawaii in 2002 to live more comfortably in a warmer climate. Despite limitations, and with the assistance of his son, Samuel A. Poole, Wesley is beginning a second career in font design. “Part of my success in wine packaging was my liberal use of hand lettering to create memorable brand names (Riunite, Bartyles & Jaymes, Blackstone and Alize are some of Poole's). I was very lucky to join in the California wine boom all through the eighties and nineties. For years friends and colleagues have urged me to finish alphabets I had only started with a brand name in my label designs. So I did.” Wesley Poole grew up in Downey, half way between downtown L.A. and Disneyland. "It was a great place then", but after visiting friends in Napa, and weary of life as a struggling musician and songwriter, he moved North. “I thought the Napa Valley was just beautiful, and I got a job as a stock clerk at Merrill's Drug Store. It didn't take me long to figure out that I needed to get back to school. The one thing I did enjoy there was making the in-store ad signs with felt pens. I stole the job away from the old lady in the office who had good hand writing. So when I left, I made up a portfolio of shelf talkers and shopped it around town. I never worked for an employer again. Keep in mind, this was before copier technology existed.’ 'So I paid my way through Sonoma State University by doing a thousand shelf talkers a week for Vallerga's Markets. When I graduated (B.A. Political Science/ Economics) I was having such a great time painting signs and designing logos that I just kept going. But I knew I needed to know more. I pestered Rod Kirkland, the best sign painter in the Napa Valley, until he let me work beside him with my own jobs, paying rent and paying attention. He was a master sign painter.’ ‘I so lament the disappearance of the art and craft of sign painting. Our country and our culture are much the worse for it's extinction. Today, signs are a vinyl franchise deal. I can truthfully say that even with all that I subsequently learned about design, packaging, and the wine business, I value most the lessons I learned with Rod. That was when I learned to love letters.” In 1980 Wes and his wife, Carol started Oasis Graphics. Soon Wesley partnered with wine artist, Sebastian Titus. All through the eighties with TITUS & POOLE, then later as POOLE ART & DESIGN, Wesley was part of a small group of artists and designers that served the wine industry exclusively. With over 200 labels to his credit, Poole has been the recipient of numerous awards including several Wine of the World Awards. His work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and books, including a feature in TIME magazine. Poole is also a successful fine artist. His paintings are part of several private collections from Seattle to New York. His work can be seen at the di Rosa Preserve in the Napa Valley. “I can't have the life I used to have because of my MS, but I can still do a lot. I'm going to keep designing alphabets as long as I can. I have a lot of ideas and so does my son, Sam, who is developing his own career in design.’ ‘One perspective I bring to this party is that I'm coming from a completely non-technical art approach. I guess you'd call it "old school". I work with digital font wizard Rod Cavazos at PSY/OPS. Rod is also my teacher about digital type.’ ‘I feel like I'm coming back to where I started. I've never had more satisfaction or fun than I'm having now, designing alphabets.”

Related Tags