The small shop on Broad has a global presence and conscience
by Richard J. Alley
In the Binghampton neighborhood, there is a water tower. Painted in vibrant colors, it stands as a monument both to the blue-collar warehouses, loading docks, and saloons that used to dot the area, as well as the change that has come to the revived arts district. Across Broad Avenue from that tower is a plain, brick building — the one-time home of a United States Post Office. To walk into that building today is to feel transported to an artistic Eden, a space more in line with what Broad is today. This is the home of West Memorials, owned by Paul and Missy West, who moved to the street before the arts took over, but after most of the blue collars had left. It was a time of transition for everyone.
Paul got his start in the mid-1990s when conglomerates began gobbling up funeral homes, cemeteries, and monument companies nationwide. He was hired to handle acquisitions. “In order to do that, I had to learn everything,” he says. “I trained with these great monument folks around the country so I would know what I was doing — making them, selling them, distribution.”
by Richard J. Alley
The interview begins with the simplest of questions: “What is it you make?” And yet, the answer is anything but simple and Brandon Bell stumbles as he tries to explain what it is he does to the Luddite sitting before him.
“It’s funny because whenever people have asked me that I’ve always had kind of a hard time explaining. I’d say, ‘Well, I do design, but I do a lot of interactive, and I do a lot of video and motion graphics.’ So I’d sort of list things off and people would ask if I do logos and, yeah, that’s part of it.”
But even this ludite can find Bell’s website and there it is in simple, easy-to-understand, black-and-white pixels: “I make creative digital stuff.”
And he does. His stuff is seen by millions from national stages — he’s created and produced the virtual sets for the Tony Awards, and designed and produced the screen graphics for Ted Talks Live. Closer to home, he’s done online work for Soul Fish Café; designed and developed the website, logo, and packaging for Relevant Roasters coffee company (now French Truck Coffee); and the video animations for the Rock ’n’ Soul Museum’s ceremonies; among others.
An established home cleaning service is bringing Memphians back to their roots with a new, natural product line.
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