• by Kirk Gaw

Idea Man Cary Zartman A Falcon From Glenn To Z Factory

Walkerton has always been the roost for many sensations. From railroad engineers, huckleberry marshes, chemists, scientists, and now, graphic designers. Meet creative innovator and JGHS grad, Cary Zartman. He has succeeded all the way to become "creative czar" after he opened "Z Factory" during 1997 in Chicago.

Entrenpreneur, JGHS alumni Cary Zartman at his Z Factory offices.

Today, we catch up with Cary after all of these years since, John Glenn. He continues to visit from his Chicago home.

"I’m definitely still able to get back to the Walkerton area, mostly for visits with Mom."

"When the opportunity presents itself, I’ll drive down all of the old familiar roads to see what has changed and to refresh my memory of where everything is."

The quiet country life of the Walkerton area has certainly left its mark on Cary.

He said, "I was always conflicted about what to call my hometown growing up?"

"Our home address was Plymouth. We went to church in Tyner. And went to school in Walkerton. It never made for an easy answer when someone asked, “so where do you live?” But regardless, I have fond memories of my childhood in the country. Especially now that I’ve been in Chicago for so many years."

"I’m never quite sure if things have really changed or if my memory is just bad? But, various locations pop up occasionally in my dreams now and then so, I know that the area is never far from my thoughts."

He lives across the street from Wrigley Field in the northside Lakeview neighborhood.

Cary was encouraged as a kid from his JGHS education in the Arts, Golf, and Theater. I asked who inspired him the most as a kid?

He said, "That’s a really hard question to answer."

"Looking back, I can see so, many people that really influenced me."

"But I’m not sure that you really know it at the time, right?"

"My parents, and literally EVERY teacher (who did their Herculean work while, allowing me to think I was smarter than I really was) inspired."

"Field trips to the Art Institute of Chicago definitely, exposed me to some incredible art that I have the good fortune to see much easier now."

That great museum really did influence him. It prepared Cary for a multidisciplinary career in visuals. I asked him what was it like leaving John Glenn High School for college?

These kid models wearing an original Cary Zartman design found at:

"I knew I wanted to study graphic design, but also wanted to have a full college experience. By going to the University of Michigan, I was able to learn in a program that was a manageable size – but within an environment that was larger than anything I’d ever known before."

"The University of Michigan was an incredible learning experience and gifted me with some of my closest friends to this day."

"I worked for a student-run organization called the University Activities Center that really taught me as much – if not more – about practical work experience by designing for events taking place on campus every week."

"So, learning in the classroom each day, and then applying a lot of that knowledge to actual design projects was an invaluable opportunity."

The U. of M. at Ann Arbor began Cary's path into marketing. He cannonballed himself up from Art Director, Senior Art Director, and then Associate Creative Director through various advertising agencies. Today, he is Creative Czar at his graphics studio in Chicago.

Tourist chic. Another Cary Zartman t-shirt original design found at:

Cary added, "Once, I graduated and got to Chicago, my professional career consisted of working for a long, unfortunate list of design firms and advertising agencies. They either hit hard times or closed down entirely."

The national economy and technology has certainly reflected many changes over the years. Laptops, swipe Apple i-phones, Google Android phones, Apple I-pads, internet social media platforms, diet trends, selfie's, box stores, and home delivery options have made waves.

He went on, "As such, at some point — it just seemed like going out on my own was the best way to maintain a little more control of my destiny. So, I quit my last job, freelanced a bit, and then created Z Factory in 1997."

"Now, I work with a variety of clients from different business industries and sometimes collaboratively, but more often than not independently from start to finish."

Cary during a photoshoot demonstrating his "Maskerdoodle" handheld photo prop invention.

Zartman is a man of many hats. Since, providing his marketing solutions for business with advertising "calls-to-action" he manages his company and provides graphic design.

He said, "when time allows, I also work on a couple of my other businesses — Maskerdoodles and Cary Zartman Originals — developing products or designs that rattle around in my head and that I hope others will enjoy just as much."

And he has made a success of it. He promotes the brands worldwide through his online shopping network

Having fun with "Maskerdoodles" can really personalize your pictures when you are celebrating. Go to:

You can also, check out: for the great photo props that Cary Zartman invented for fun with photo pictures and selfie's.

It provides an extra dimension to personalized pictures.

Finally, I asked Cary Zartman what advice do you give Walkerton area High School kids who are deciding for their future?

He replied, "I would just invite them to experience things that are far beyond what they have experienced thus far. Go to a college that is in a different part of the state or country. Or just travel to another state or country."

"See people and places that you would never encounter growing up, because there are amazing people and places to be found everywhere. And if your journey leads you back to Walkerton or the surrounding area, you will have a whole wealth of understanding to help shape what you do next."

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