The Wizard of Wow: A Creative Moment
With Steve Kehrli
By Karen Mendez Smith
Even at an early age, some creative minds seem destined for success. So
it was for Steve Kehrli, owner of Creative Energy Resources
in Santa Clarita, California. In the seventh grade, his very first sculpture
won an award. That recognition gave him the confidence he needed to seek
out mentors such as screen actor/artist George Montgomery, who personally
inspired and encouraged Kehrli 's work.
Since 1986 CER has been a full-service creative center, with a team of
sculptors, painters, mold makers and photographers on board that build
and market just about anything you can dream up.
"The one thing we do that puts us way ahead of anyone else is that
we not only execute designs, but we generate original creative ideas,"
Kehrli tells us. "We love what we do, and I think it shows in the
excellence we bring to each project. We're always looking for ways to
innovate and improve."
Kehrli and his stable of artists at CER perform a host of different services
aimed at helping bring an inventor’s visions to life, ranging from aiding
design conception to prototyping and in-house mold-making, casting, illustration
and sculpting services. Kehrli also manufactures small orders at the Santa
Clarita location, but for larger orders, he uses a network of Chinese
While making collectibles and other products for the gift, print and
toy industries, Kehrli’s services have paid off handsomely. Last year,
CER supervised $7 million worth of product sold to Wal-Mart.
"There's really nothing special about me," Kehrli says with
genuine humility. "It took a long time until I was really good, but
I just kept at it." Shortly after being awarded 1st place in the
Rockwell International Design Competition in high school, Kehrli made
his first professional sale, and then another. He hasn’t looked back since.
The company’s website displays photos of over 500 illustrations, paintings
and sculptures -- from Native American themes to whimsical, fantasy and
animal designs. But design is only one aspect of creating collectible
products. Kehrli and his staff also build websites, write and publish
books to go along with ideas, and art-direct for overseas companies. They
even have a full digital photography department for creating catalogs
His advice to young designers is simple. "Study the masters,"
Kehrli advises. "Keep studying and teach yourself how artists like
Bernini do it. But most of all, have fun doing it."
Ironically, Kehrli hasn't sculpted in years. Instead, he now passes on
that opportunity to new artists in his company. In a world where way too
many things seem like marketing clones, it's a refreshing change to see
the real thing in action.
Writer's Bio: Karen Mendez Smith has been
involved in children's media for over twenty years as a literary agent,
writer, and creator of animated television and film. Co-founder of Satori
Organics and M/Path Press, she is a parent to eight children and five
incredible grandchildren (and counting).