When Jeff McSweeney traded his job in public relations for freelance photography in May 2005, his parents gave him a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor red high-tops as a gift. He began wearing them on assignments and now they have become his trademark.
"They made me more approachable and easier for folks to talk to," Jeff says with his big easy smile. "Now I am known as the photographer with the red shoes." Those shoes have become incorporated into the Creative Services logo on his website.
Jeff McSweeney is a Midwest-based Creative Strategist who emphasizes the most effective application on people based photography, web creation and broad marketing efforts. McSweeney is working toward expanding his services nationally.
He grew up in Washington, Illinois. After graduating from Eureka College in 1987, he was employed by the college’s public relations department. Thanks partly to that experience, he is an awesome team player or project leader for public relations and marketing ventures.
After two years, McSweeney returned to school earning an MFA in Photography from the Savannah College of Art & Design in Savannah, Georgia. He continues to hone his skills by teaching. McSweeney says having students ask him, "How do you do that?" keeps him sharp. He also encourages clients to make special requests, continuing to create creative challenges for him.
McSweeney understands startup businesses. He says, "It took many years to have faith in my own vision and carry it through. I was challenged by the lack of faith in my own vision and a very opinionated group of peers that challenged the value and direction of my work." He said that stuck with him as a creative person for years.
"Then I met a female gallery owner in Chicago who told me those women were full of crap," he says. "This one statement restored my mojo and I began creating art again and taking off on my commercial endeavors."
McSweeney says he has come to realize that his business sense has value by itself. "I consider myself a competent photographer with flashes of brilliance. But, I have taken the risk, gone out on my own and made it work since 2005. Others may be more talented but others don’t have the guts or ignorance to run their own business," he laughs.
He continues to monitor the evolution of web design. As he explains, "There is a greater integration of pre-designed assets. My skill is to know as much as possible about how to bring those pieces together to make a unique and effective web site. I interview clients and their employees to create a unique project that serves their specific needs." The result is original cost-effective creative services.
Service is an integral part of his being, believing, "It is important to give back, to share the time, talent and treasure I have been so blessed with in my life." To that end Jeff dedicates his efforts to the following organizations:
- Eureka College Alumni Board – July 2005 - present
- Eureka Community Nursery School – Board Chairman – July 2008 – present
- CI|Creative – Central Illinois Arts Group – Board Member
- Make-A-Wish of Central Illinois – Development Committee – August 2008 – present
- Led numerous youth groups to Habitat for Humanity at Eureka College
- Led high school youth groups to Catholic Heart Workcamp
- Teens Encounter Christ – TEC team member
Trying to summarize a career path for him is quite challenging for a man with diverse interests and experiences. Listing them may help understand his abilities:
- Enjoys travel
- Infectious energy in front of a crowd
- Creative in discovering solutions in Art, Marketing and Public Relations
- Acted in numerous plays
- Loves to renovate houses of all ages
- Trophy Wife – a clothing line waiting for the ‘big break.’
- Applause Ball – a hand size device thrown into a room in advance of a grand entrance
- Artist – 4 solo shows and numerous collaborative shows in Chicago and Central Illinois
- Campus Photographer
- Yearbook Photographer
- Publications experience
- Photojournalist – 5 years, Savannah Morning News
- Business owner / Entrepreneur
- Creative Strategist
- College Professor – Mammouth College, Eureka College, Robert Morris University
- Community Education – Illinois Central College, Peoria Art Guild, Eureka Public Library
- Development/Fundraising experience
- Marketing Director and General Manager at three convention centers
By Judy Rosella-Edwards