Humans of Maryville: Lucas Winkelmann

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Explain a little bit about, um, I mean, obviously at this point I know you well, and I think people at school know that I know you well. So my purpose in reaching out to you is – Through these interviews thus far, I’ve been really shaped and molded by the different responses I’ve gotten and learning more about the other person, and I’ve constantly learned from you the last few years.

LW: Seems a lot longer than that (laughs).

It does! I think that you have a perspective, and the way you live life, I think other people would learn a lot from, um, so that’s my intention for sitting down and talking with you; being able to capture the way that you think and approach life for other people. So, I know you switched into sports business management this year, talk to me a little bit about that process.

Yeah, I’ve told a few people this, but I thought that I wanted to be a physical therapist since I was in sixth grade; my little brother’s hockey coach was a PT and I was always pretty close to the parents on brother’s team because that’s who i’d be sitting with and talking with during the games. At the time, I talked to his coach a few times about what physical therapy was, because I had no idea what it was or how it worked or anything like that. From that point on, I had a huge interest in the human body and how it works, and also a big passion to help people. I thought PT was the perfect combination and so all the way up until college, that’s what I wanted to do. Then, I feel like when I got to college and was officially on my own, I started understand my creativity and my need to be creative in everything I do. That just kind of grew and grew. I realized that, not that physical therapy is a bad career path, I would still do it if I’m being honest, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with myself knowing that I would just be memorizing things for the next six and a half years, and then putting those things in practice from then on. One of the main ways I would be able to be creative within physical therapy is if I were to do engineering, in terms of creating new braces or whatever, and I know I’m not good at math whatsoever, so I knew that was out. Actually, after my first semester here I talked with Jason Williams, the director of the program, and just kind of talked to him about it because at that point I had already thought: if I’ve been surrounded by sports my whole life and I’m passionate about them, I would be able to be super creative and do a lot of the things that I want to do to, um, to I guess manifest my dreams, if I went that route. So I had that conversation with him between first and second semester and he was very welcoming and informative. I didn’t want to make any rash decisions because the PT program is a direct entry, so once you get out, you can’t get back in. I waited another three and semesters and over the summer I had, like, not lost interest, but, I was in such a creative place, and still am, that everything I do, I want it to be something that fuels my creativity. The transition was kind of weird because all of my roommates are PT majors, which isn’t a big deal anymore, but i had gotten really close with all of my PT classmates because all of us had the same schedule and all of us had our classes together. Where as business majors, oftentimes you don’t have the same classes with everyone. So it has been a little different, but I have been able to be around my roommates a lot, as well as meeting a bunch of other cool people, and do some really cool things even in my first year.

What’re some of the things you’ve gotten to do?

Well something the Sports Business Management program values is: Experience over — well, they don’t value it over, but just as much, experience and education. They have relayed to us that employers don’t necessarily look for the 4.0 GPA, they look for people that have gone out and volunteered and interned and done the work. They’ve really pushed us to get out into the community and take on internships. I actually got the opportunity to go down to Houston with Rawlings, with another Rawlings Intern, and run a store opening for Academy Sports & Outdoors down there. We worked with visual merchandising of Rawlings products within the store. So being down there for a days was a super cool experience and even though it was only a few days, I learned a lot about events and operations and grassroots marketing. So that was really unique. I’ve also volunteered at a 5K, the Biz-Dash 5K in St. Louis. I volunteered with Draft Kings, Pro Camps; the day after the Winter Classic took place I got to work with a Fantasy Fan Experience group at Busch Stadium where we got to go on the ice and go into all the locker rooms. Again, working with operations and event management.

That’s super cool.

Yeah a lot of really cool stuff.

You talk a lot about your creativity. Explain that a little bit. If you had to try to word your creativity a little bit, I mean, everything from where it comes from to how it comes into fruition, to — you know, the way I see it, a lot of people talk about being creative or they say things like, again, because I know you, people say things like “you’re so artistic”. And its alway this gut reaction like “agghh… no I’m not.” But you are. So where does that come from? What makes you creative?

I’ve never really sat down and thought about that. I don’t know if what I’m going to say is accurate or not, it’s just kind of the first thing coming to mind. I know we had a conversation about how I lead a pretty busy life, like, I’m always doing something. And how I times maybe I need to learn how to slow down.


I think my creativity is fueled by need to relax and getaway and not think about all the different things that are going on in my life; Essentially, to isolate myself from society, as Henry David Thoreau would say. But I think my creativity comes from my need to explore. One of my — I don’t really know how to word this… I don’t even know. Creativity is such a hard word to describe. I do have a really busy schedule; I’m constantly doing something. I’m trying to get as much experience I can in every single area. So the times that I have to relax, I either want to sleep or I want to be exploring. I think that exploration, itself, is what fuels my creativity. I don’t think that there’s one specific thing that I see or listen to or hear in particular that fuels my creativity, it’s very sporadic and random. Generally, there are certain things that tend to inspire me, but a lot of the time it’s super random things that I didn’t think would, but then I get this energy that I want to go and do stuff with. I don’t know.

What are different ways that your creativity comes out?

Photography, for sure. Um, you and I explore all the time and just take picture of everything and anything that’s moving or not moving. That’s probably the biggest way. I’ve found that I’ve been able to just get away from everything by myself or with friends, or whoever, and explore the city that we live in. I also — That’s really the main thing.

Talk about photography. What part does that play in your life?

Oh my gosh. Photography is my ultimate escape. Even if I’m doing it for work in some way, I will never see it that. I always see it as a chance to get away from everything I’m doing. It’s played a huge role in my life in terms of how I’ve been able to cope with everything. It’s taught me a lot too. I’ve taken one class for photography and, essentially, it was a field trip class, so we didn’t learn as much about photography as much as we did about just going to new places. I think that, in itself, was a big help. But as far as the actual photography things I’ve learned, I’ve learned from other people, I’ve learned from trial and error, I’ve learned from messing around with things, or from watching videos. It’s definitely taught me to be resourceful in the way that I go about things. I think it’s taught me that everyone has a different perspective because there are so many different photographers out there. Everyday  when I find new ones, I’ve never seen the same picture twice. No one picture could ever be replicated, so that’s why i love exploring with other people more than anything, because we get to see all these different perspectives collide, and that definitely fuels my creativity as well.

What do you want to do with it?

Um, exactly what it is right now, to be honest. I recently launched a website in which I was able to display my best work —

Plug. (laughs)

(Laughs) Yeah but display my best work in high definition and I’ve just been utilizing social media and show everyone my creativity and my perspective on things. I think ultimately I’d like to grow that follower base, or client base, and use it as a secondary source of income at times. But I also, people have asked me if my major is photography or if I would ever switch to it. And without hesitation I tell them no. Because the moment I focus on it being my sole career, I won’t see it the same way, as an escape from work and everything else. It can definitely be a secondary source of income, but I want it to first and foremost keep it an escape —

But how do you draw that boundary? Because I know even for myself, there have been plenty of times — And don’t discredit yourself; You’re really good at what you do. You’re really good at clicking buttons. And you see things super well. So it’s natural for people to ask if you do this full time.

For sure.

So there have been times that even I have set down my camera for like, a month or two months at a time and I don’t even pick it up because you lose that boundary. So do you — And I think this goes beyond only photography, I mean people can apply this to whatever it is; people can apply this to sports, people can apply this to relationships, they apply it to whatever – there always has to be that boundary; This is for play, this is for work. How do you not cross that boundary?

I think that a way to bridge that boundary is doing it for fun more than you do it for actual work. Not saying that the work part can’t be fun, because it is most of the time. But going off and exploring with people twice for every time I do something for any source of payment.

 Like a ratio?

Exactly. Essentially it’s a ratio. Now it doesn’t have to be an exact ratio, but I never want to do it for work more than I want to do it for fun. I think that allows the fun part to outweigh the fact that I’m doing it for work also. And I mean also, you’ll see it everywhere and people tell you always that if you’re good at something, never do it for free, or at least find a way to make money doing it. So I kind of took that and ran with it. Not to the extent that I’m making money off of it every time I’m doing it. But I want to be able to get something else out of it as well, whether it’s buying new gear, or going new places, I want to continue to build that portfolio.

If you could go somewhere, tomorrow —

Oh my gosh…

Yeah I know. If you had to choose one place, one set of gear, what is it? Where is it? Who are you with? You don’t have to be married to this idea, just however you’re feeling right now.

I’ve seen a lot of pictures recently of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. A few of which have been taken by one of my little brother’s friends, who lives out that way. I think the way that the fog surrounds that bridge is such a cool thing. I would love to go and travel and explore in California. But I would definitely want to visit that bridge and photograph it. Dream camera of mine has always been a Canon 5d Mark iii, with any prime lens or L lens for sure. I would definitely want to be exploring with my roommates, you, my girlfriend Emily. Honestly if I had to write down everyone, it would probably be a lot of people because there are a lot of people that inspire me and I’d want them all there with me, so I would feel like I’m getting the most out of that trip or that moment.

You brought up the girlfriend.


A lot of people ask about her. I’ll be honest, you broke a lot of hearts out there when you threw up the good ol’ Emily Markarian dating thing. So tell me about her, how’d you guys meet?

Um, our little brothers, (laughs), played hockey growing up because her little brother is a year older than mine. Her little brother also ended up playing with my cousin, who we’re super close with as well, for their whole childhood and they became best friends. So much so that their family came to our family’s gatherings. I remember one gathering in particular that I remember was my cousin’s confirmation. She was there and we had conversation within a group of parents and we were just talking and I didn’t really think anything of it. After that, she went off to college, and I was a freshman in college at the time, she was a junior in college or something. She went to Miami of Ohio and life happened in between then. She came back home after graduating and I was working at lululemon athletica at the time and she had applied. We hadn’t talked once in between then, so it wasn’t expected or anything like that. But my aunt told her that I had started working there, so she started messaging me about the interview process and about the company as a whole. Conversation started and since she had been gone in Ohio for the last four years, um, she didn’t have a lot of connections back here, aside from her family and high school friends. So we hung out a few times and it was super unexpected, but I fell super in love with her. She’s my best friend and one of my favorite people to explore with. She inspires the hell out of me, too. But, I don’t know how to describe it dude. I tell her all the time that “serendipity” is the best word for it – It was expected, it wasn’t planned, I wasn’t looking for it. But, I don’t think I could’ve asked for anything better than her. I don’t know, life is just really good right now.

That’s awesome.

Yeah man.

You get awfully rosy cheeks when you talk about her. You get all smiley and giggly. (laughs).

(laughs) And I don’t know what to say!

It’s cool the way that like — I don’t know, I think love in general just kind of grabs our attention differently, grabs our heart differently. It changes the way we think, it changes the way we do. There are people in both camps that say “love is awesome” and they talk about how cool it is to go on dates to meet people, to do all sorts of stuff like that. And then there are people who are like “love sucks” and they hate every bit of it; there’s a lot of heartbreak, there’s a lot of all sorts of stuff that’s attached with it. But I’ve always been a big fan of the way that love makes us do crazy things.


And I’ve seen you in the last several months, not do crazy things, but do life differently because of her and that’s really cool.

I hope that’s a good thing.


I think the reason it makes me go about life differently is because it feels like I have someone to go about it with, like, all the time. Not to say that I don’t do that with my best friends or anyone else. It’s just cool to have someone who loves you unconditionally and puts your needs above theirs.

What does it look like to do life with someone on a daily basis? Because a lot of people, I’ll be honest with you, a lot of people in college don’t understand what it means to actually do life with someone. Their perception of “dating” or experiencing life with someone is, like, if I can just be blunt, is just going and hooking up with someone on a frequent basis and that’s —

That’s one of the last things that comes to my mind. I think of myself as a humble dude, but i consider myself wise beyond my years when it comes to relationships and approaching or respecting someone in that way. Intimacy is a huge part of it obviously, but connecting with that other person in a way that you could talk to them for hours on end or just stare at their face and smile all the time is something so special. Someone that gives you butterflies every time you see them, not to sound corny or anything. Everyone always talks about physical attraction and how a lot of relationships are based on that. But i think the most important part is, I’m trying to find the right word, not like a spiritual —

It’s almost in a spiritual sense. It’s something outside of you and bigger than yourself. That’s how we can describe it as humans.

The words aren’t invented yet.

Yeah exactly.

I don’t know, just the way we talk to each other, and the tones we take, and the diction we choose is something special and unique. Each relationship is that way. I think, again, not physical, but the fact that you can be doing anything with that other person and not be bored. I think the fact that they’re going to be your biggest support system is such a cool thing or the fact that you can set goals and crush them with each other is so cool.

What’s a goal you’re working on together right now?

I can’t think of something we’re working on together right now, well, yes I can. Not to be redundant, but I started that website, trying to build that client base. She recently started a blog, and is working on that. And we are both able to help each other a lot. I think we are both avid learners in the field of social media and how that affects everything. I think we are able to bounce ideas off of each other or create with each other. It feels like we’re building off of each other. Life is good.

You’ve been asked this question before because of how we live life and where we live life, but where do you see yourself in ten years?

Wooo. Honestly, ask me this question a month ago and it would’ve been different; ask me a month before that and it would’ve been different. In this very moment, in ten years, I see myself back in St. Louis. I see myself having gone a lot of places between now and ten years from now, having learned about different cultures and different ways of life. Living, connecting, influencing, motivating, photographing, eating, drinking – you know, all those things that we know and love at each one of those different places. If I could use one word to describe it, it would be “experience”. I think, well, I don’t think, I will experience a lot of things in the next ten years, both good and bad. Overall, just experiencing things and living in every moment and realizing that every moment is that moment and it won’t ever happen again, so taking every moment seriously. At the end of the day, in ten years, I want to be back in St. Louis. Ideally working at, or owning, a outsourced marketing company or working as a marketing director for one of the major sports teams here in St. Louis. Then raising a family, living at a house in the city, with a bunch of dope people around me constantly.

My last question is one that I ask every time, and I’ve shared this with you before, but I believe that everyone has a story, and everyone has something to say. Oftentimes, they just don’t get prompted with the right question. There’s something that’s important to every single person. So my question is: is there something I haven’t asked you that you wish I had? Or, is there anything that you want to talk about? I mean, this is your platform to speak into something if there was anything. It could be nine somethings, or it could be one something.

I really don’t think so, I feel like we hit the major points.

I guess something I didn’t ask, if I can answer my own question, you speak really differently than most of your peers. If you go through your social media, specifically your Instagram, um, your captions, the way you look at things, it’s all really different. Most people — It’s funny, you mentioned earlier that you want to build your collective, you want to build your brand of who you are. Most people would take that as “Hey look at me, I’m Lucas Winkelmann, this is what I can do. Look at me, look at me, look at me.” But if you go through your social media, it’s very different than that. It’s very much about other people and about interacting, almost, it’s about you interacting with the people who follow you. Something as simple as, one of my favorite things you’ve posted was, like, “hey comment your favorite song and I’m going to listen to it right now.” That really different, that’s like super different than most people you see today.

I don’t want to take any credit for that. There was a picture post going around Facebook at that time and I thought it was a cool idea. I’m not one to post statuses on Facebook, so I just kind of translated it to that.

 Right, and you even mentioned that on the post. But I can think of a number of things, like, you can pull up your Instagram right now and you can read your captions and they’re really different. One may say that you are a bit more of a deep thinker than most people. Where does that come from?

I think a lot of the people that I have learned a lot from are the ones that those words speak through. I think that you are one of those people, I think that Billy (Stimac) is one of those people, I think Emily is one of those people, I think my roommates are those people, I think Joe Lucido is one of those people, I think a lot of the dudes we work with are those people. If I didn’t know any of you guys, I guarantee that i wouldn’t attempt to stand out, nor stand out at all. I’ve interviewed a few photographers, just to figure out how they got where they are, and they told me to shape the way you want other people to see the things you create, run with that, and then don’t stop. So it’s really easy for someone to start something, get bored with it, and then change it to something else. That can be valid for everything we do. But, I’ve really started to try to be super consistent with the way I go about taking pictures, with the way I go about posting them, with the way I go about talking about them, and that has spoken to my brand without having to tell everyone to look at me or anything.

How do you want people to look at you? What do you want people to see when they look at your page?

I don’t want them to see anything in particular, I want them to see whatever they want to see and think whatever they want to think, good, bad, or otherwise. I don’t think anyone can make someone look at something and certain way. Just like an individual picture, every individual sees things differently. I want them to see whatever the hell they want to see. At the end of the day, whatever they think about the content, i want them to go and create for themselves. It doesn’t have to be taking pictures, but I want them to create for themselves. I think with all the politics that is going on right now, i think it’s forcing people to act a certain way, or think a certain way, or feel bad or scared or something. Not that I will ever go out and say, in anything I post, “this is what I want you to do now”, I want people to go and be creative, and do whatever it is that makes them feel happy.

Like foster an environment to where people can freely create and do.

Yeah, and I’ve joined a lot of those communities, both in person and through social media, and I just want to bring everyone in.

Henry Wynd

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