“I must warn you, I’m a pretty boring person…”
That e-mailed disclaimer arrived before our interview even began. But it quickly became clear— Dan Klevorn is not dull.
“I’m not sure if I had the perfect personality for being the middle child, or if my personality was shaped by being in the middle,” Dan said. “I just know I don’t like being the center of attention. And the middle is perfect for that.”
Dan, his older sister and brother and his younger brother grew up in St. Louis. Everyone, Dan included, figured he would one day take over his Dad’s accounting practice. But Dan eventually realized profits and losses just weren’t his thing.
Asked when he first realized he had talent, Dan humbly demurs,
“I never considered myself a standout, or better than anyone. I just knew drawing made me happy.”
Team logos were among his early subjects.
“Naturally, I drew the Cardinals’ logo a lot. But the one I remember most was the Hartford Whalers’ logo,” Dan said.
Growing up, sports was a big part of Dan’s life. But freshman year, he got cut from the basketball team at St. Louis University High School. Instead of being crushed, he realized he was more passionate about other things than basketball anyway.
“There was no deep, mysterious meaning behind the name,” Dan said with a chuckle. “Overland is a city we would pass by on the way to my bandmate’s girlfriend's house. That’s all there was to it.”
Dan played lead guitar. His attempts at writing lyrics were a bit less successful. Overland even recorded a few tracks in a studio.
“We entered a band competition to score free studio time. And we actually won. I remember the band that played before us was soooo much better. But our lead singer was very popular and he had everyone vote, so it was rigged. That’s how we got the studio time. Which was such a great experience,” Dan explained.
Dan’s love of art and drawing only deepened throughout high school. He enrolled in as many classes as he could. After graduation, he started at Mizzou, studying accounting and business. He ended up earning a Fine Arts degree at UM-St. Louis.
Not quite sure what career path to forge with an art degree, on the advice of one of his professors, Dan started taking design classes.
He found that he not only loved design, but had a real talent for it.
College was also where Stephanie Fox appeared on Dan’s radar.
“We had a lot of mutual friends in college. I knew who she was, but not well enough to say hi when we’d pass. But one night after college, we just started talking and realized we had a lot in common. It just clicked.”
Now married, Dan and Stephanie are the proud parents of two young kids. Henry is 3 ½ and Eleanor 1 ½.
“Stephanie’s really outgoing and just very kind-hearted. I feel bad— she used to have the easiest last name to spell. Now she spends her life spelling Klevorn.”
Henry recently started playing soccer. Last year, he and Dan took part in that age old father/son rite of passage—attending their first Cardinals game.
“Both my kids have a good sense of humor, which I love. If I can teach them to not take life so seriously, they’ll be just fine.”
After college, an internship at Moosylvania led to a lengthy stint working at TOKY, before joining Paradowski on the Climate team. Dan’s former TOKY co-workers included Travis Brown, and a young intern by the name of Andy Wise.
“When Andy approached me to come work with him, it was the right time to make a change. I’ve loved the variety of assignments at Paradowski. It’s forced me to work outside my comfort zone.”
“Dan is a great guy. He eats a lot of canned soup, probably too much. He's funny, but gets even funnier after 3 or 4 Manhattans,” says Steve John, his creative director on the Climate team. “ He's a pleasure to work with. He's the perfect blend of a no B.S. old school ad guy and the freshest of thinkers. I'd marry him, but he's married…”
Steve isn’t the only one to notice Dan’s talent. Dan’s work has also been recognized by such prestigious pubs and organizations as Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, American Advertising Federation and Print Regional Annuals.
For his birthday recently, Dan’s wife gave him a free hall pass to have a break from the usual weekend responsibilities. He headed down to the basement and picked up his guitar.
“I love being a Dad, but it was nice to tune everything out for a bit, and just play the guitar. I hadn’t done that in a long time,” Dan recalled.
No matter if it’s designing a logo, playing the guitar or hanging out with family, Dan is a lot of things. But boring is definitely not one of them.