The Man Behind the Design: An 18-year Connection with Booth UC

Scroll through a website, glance at a billboard, skim over a digital ad. These are things we do dozens if not hundreds of times every day. Probably about 95% of the time, we don’t consider the person behind the design. For Booth UC, however, that person is Steve Boyd, a talented artist and graphic designer who has been creating Booth UC’s “look” for 18 years.

The story of how Steve got connected with Booth UC is unique. By pure serendipity, it involves The Salvation Army, Major Harold Aitkenhead, and Grace Hospital.

“I don’t mind talking about it, but I had a nervous breakdown,” explains Steve. “I was working in a very high-stress job that was demanding 70-90 hours a week. I had just finished a big project and was going on about five nights without sleep. It reached a point where my wife had to take me to the hospital.”

It was at Grace Hospital where Steve met Major Aitkenhead. At the time (around 1998), there was always someone from The Army on staff. Steve was recovering in the psychiatric ward and happened to bump into Major Aitkenhead. They chatted for a bit, but it soon became much more than a one-time 10-minute conversation. “He kept coming back every day to follow up with me!” exclaims Steve. “The thing I remember the most is that he was all about encouraging me and helping me get myself back on track to get back into the world and do all the things I’m capable of. He was one of the largest influences towards me getting better and getting out.”

Steve with Booth UC’s Development Coordinator, Mia Dunn

Because of those interactions, and the impression Major Aitkenhead left, Steve decided that if he ever got the chance to pay it forward in some way, he would.

Fast forward a few years and he received that opportunity through Jill Jeffries at Booth University College. After quitting the job that put him in the hospital, Steve made the decision to go freelance and built a successful, award-winning design shop. “I assume Jill heard of me through word-of-mouth, but I really have no idea,” he says with a laugh. “She told me that the College was growing and they wanted to try and appeal to a larger market. Could I help them with that?”

Steve recounts how he jumped at the chance because of the interactions he had had with Major Aitkenhead and the impression it left on him. “Plus, at the time I was really moving towards working with clients that I believed in, who were doing things that I supported like education, health, community-focused groups so Booth UC, and its connection with The Salvation Army, was a really good fit.”

That moment began an 18-year relationship that has seen Steve do just about every creative project one can imagine. From designing Booth UC’s new logo, to creating traditional pieces such as billboards, print ads, transit ads and brochures, to moving Booth UC into the digital age.

“I love working with Booth UC,” Steve states. “We’ve built a really strong partnership over the years It allows me to be open and creative with any crazy idea I might have! At the same time, I hope and I think it gives you confidence in my work and trust that I absolutely want what’s best for you.”

This is an excerpt from a longer article that is coming in our next Connect Magazine (Summer 2022). Keep an eye out for the rest of Steve’s story!


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Kimberly Kakegamic
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