An Artist’s Evolution
As a child growing up in Rockwall, Texas, Tim Kupper watched his parents oil paint together on the weekends. During the week, however, they packed up their canvases and brushes to work in conventional jobs that did not offer much of a creative outlet. As the lucky recipient of his parents’ aesthetic DNA, Kupper resolved to pursue his passion for art as a career.
Kupper studied commercial art and advertising at Texas State Technical College and was later hired as a cover artist for Taylor Publishing Company, where he created artwork by hand with ink, paper and glue. He was introduced to the prepress and production processes for printing, as well as manufacturing operations.
With the advent of desktop publishing, Kupper moved to advertising to learn computer graphics as an illustrator. He was subsequently promoted to roles in ad design and account management, and to a long-term general management position in prepress and printing.
In 2004, Kupper opened the doors of Xpert Media Management LLC, a graphics and advertising firm in San Antonio, Texas. Among a long list of duties, Kupper relishes his role as the driver of the creative engine, so he can focus on the production and management of the company’s artwork.
How did you get interested in promotional products?
I have always been interested in how things are made, and after working in the prepress and printing industry I realized that most promotional products are decorated with a similar process. At that time promotional products were looked down upon in the advertising world, but everyone used them. Our company produced print, but we put our own logo on promotional products to give to our customers. One of our customers asked if we would take over their corporate store, and now promotional products are 50 percent of
our business. We produce promotional products for all our customers as an extension of their advertising needs.
What obstacles have you encountered in starting and running your own business?
The biggest challenge in our business has been the rate of change. The industry, technology and customers’ needs are constantly evolving. We work hard to keep up without losing sight of our original goal: to provide quality and service at a fair price.
How do you differentiate your business in the marketplace?
We are different because we do not sell anyone products they don’t need. We spend the time to make sure the products our customers are asking for are the best to meet their goals. A lot of customers see a product and want it for themselves, but they’re not considering their customers or asking why they would want or keep it.
Our specialty is providing a one-stop-shop, because we provide our customers with everything from creative to print, promotional and web services, so we can help them maintain a consistent brand over multiple platforms. We also produce all our creative design and artwork in-house, which speeds up the development process.
What marketing campaigns have been particularly memorable for you?
In 2014 Xpert Media Management worked on a national drug demand reduction campaign, “Closing the Gates on Drugs,” for the Young Marines, a national youth organization. The campaign was all-encompassing, including an education curriculum, stickers, tri-fold flyers, pledge forms, slap bracelets, activity books, key chains with a USB drive and feedback forms. Our team designed and produced all the artwork and products and distributed the materials to Young Marine units across the country.
The Young Marines was presented the 2015 Annual Fulcrum Shield Award for Excellence in Youth Anti-Drug Education by the Department of Defense, and my partner, Glenn Medeiros, and I were invited to attend the ceremony in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon. We also received a PPAI Pyramid Award for the campaign.
What motivates you in business?
The end result is what motivates me. There is nothing better than starting with an idea and developing it into a finished product.
What are your plans for the company going forward?
We plan on implementing new processes and applications as they are developed, with the goal of adding more like-minded creative people to our team.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and son, along with creating hands-on artwork, such as wood- and metalworking projects.
If you wrote a book about your life, what would be the title and why?
Commercial Artist. In my life I have transitioned from graphic artist to computer graphics professional, designer, prepress and printing expert, operations manager and now, business owner.
Terry Ramsay is associate editor of PPB.