Tinley students fired up about their artwork
BY CHERYL DANGEL BARTOLINI Correspondent May 19, 2013 10:00PM
Michelle Patino (front), a junior, and Alex Schmeckpeper, a senior, pose with the logo design the two students created. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 21, 2013 6:13AM
It started as a simple assignment in photography class. So never in their wildest dreams did Tinley Park High School students Alexandra Schmeckpeper and Michelle Patino think their artwork would end up emblazoned on the door of a new Tinley Park Fire Department fire truck.
Yet more than a year after they received the assignment, the two stood in the parking lot at the school last week as Station 1 firefighters brought the truck by for them to see first-hand the result of their efforts.
“There are four fire stations in Tinley Park. Station 1 needed to replace a fire truck from 1976,” school spokeswoman Katie Udstuen said. Assistant Fire Chief Stephen Klotz had asked each of the four fire stations in the village to come up with their own logo, she said.
“Fireman Mike Wittman had the idea of coming to Tinley Park High School to design Station 1’s logo after talking with Capt. Tim Griffin because many of the firefighters from Station 1, including Capt. Griffin and Mike Wittman, are TPHS graduates and/or have children at TPHS,” Udstuen said.
The fire department approached the art class with the idea of hosting a contest to design the logo, requesting that it include the school mascot, Timmy the Titan, dressed as a firefighter, along with the truck and battalion numbers, and that the colors be kept simple.
Schmeckpeper, 17, and Patino, 16, teamed up for the project.
“Alexandra had the idea and I liked it,” Patino said.
They tag-teamed the work. Schmeckpeper created the original sketch and the digital outline. Patino did the coloring and shading.
“We started out doing the design on regular computer paper and I sketched it out. Then we uploaded it to a computer and finished it digitally,” Schmeckpeper said.
They completed the original artwork in about three weeks. Then they waited.
It was a couple of months later when the students got word that their design had been chosen. Then they waited some more. An entire year went by before they actually got to see their design on the new fire truck.
“I was extremely surprised we were chosen,” Patino said. “It was a really tough competition, so I was surprised when I learned that I had won.”
“I was surprised, too, when we realized that out of all the people who submitted designs they chose ours,” Schmeckpeper said.
The unveiling of the new truck came at just the right time, too. Schmeckpeper, a senior, graduates Wednesday. She will attend Northern Illinois University, where she wants to study costume design.
“I do a lot of crafts. In addition to drawing, I sew and my art has transferred into my sewing abilities, so costume design is a natural extension of that,” said Schmeckpeper, the daughter of Janet and Greg Schmeckpeper, of Tinley Park.
Her art, she said, is inspired by her grandmother, Susan Patton, of Tinley Park.
“She’s a big artist and crafter also. Along the way, she’s done all these fantastic projects, and I’m trying my hardest to live up to her,” she said.
Patino, the daughter of Janette and Hector Patino, of Oak Forest, is a junior but already is thinking ahead and considering attending an art college.
“I want to go into some kind of digital illustration or animation,” she said.
She said her artwork is inspired by her twin sister, Melissa.
“We are very competitive sisters, and when I see something that she’s drawn, I want to do something just as great,” she said.
The girls’ efforts were acknowledged at a recent Bremen Community High School District 228 Board meeting.
“They told us the logo went on an $850,000 truck, and that shocked everyone in the audience,” Schmeckpeper said.
The girls were overwhelmed when they saw their artwork on the massive truck.
“I remember saying that I was so surprised, and to see it in person,” Schmeckpeper said, “it makes the experience so much more real. I feel so accomplished now.”