DICK EALY grew up in the humble, ne’er a skiter times of 1950’s New Zealand, spending his formative years in the small farming community of Te Karaka, 20 minutes outside of Gisborne on the East Coast of New Zealand. Dick Ealy would often find himself marvelling at the majestic trains that would barrel through Te Karaka while A thundering steam train stops for the Te Karaka localshelping his father, Jim, with another of his barnyard inventions. At the age of 18, after a windfall from a successful invention by his Dad, and as a dying wish to see the world from his older brother Jack, Dick sorted himself a ride on a container ship headed to Seattle in the mighty U.S. of A.

Jim’s patented Heavy Duty Ball-Bearing PumpOn the ship Olympus, it was Dick’s small farming community upbringing and his fascination with trains and common sense machinery that had him quickly befriending an eccentric sailor Bill, who had somehow been allowed to develop a shambling yet intricate model rail system around the communal living quarters. Using his prized Box-brownie, Dick took great delight in capturing One of Bill’s many amazing model train dioramasthe pseudo-realism of Bill’s many station dioramas. It was on the Olympus that Dick first discovered that artistic beauty can be found in the most unlikely and seemingly ordinary places. And Bill would turn out to be one of many peculiar characters that Dick Ealy would be drawn to throughout his time in the U.S.A.

Upon alighting in Seattle, Dick Ealy bid a temporary farewell to Bill, his model train friend, and made his way into the central city. Before long Dick had stumbled into a student tea house (named The Tea House), the kind of digs with plaid walls, dusty sills and early Popular Mechanics magazines propping up the Dick Ealy’s prized Crown Lynn NZ Railways Cuptable legs. In an example of one of Dick’s understated idiosyncrasies he insisted The Tea House serve his cup of Eargers in his own Crown Lynn NZ Railways cup, something that the bearded waiter “dug”.

Sitting in The Tea House was where Dick first developed his love of the American folk singer. It was open-mike night and a gravelly-voiced gentleman with the name Dick’s first-night-in-the-US memento: an American Popular Mechanics magazineHayden owned the stage with pain and passion -- quickly making the other participants put away their guitars and harmonicas for the evening. Dick made a mental note to find a The Draftsmen Training Ad that set Dick on a path to Chicagorecord store to pick up some local folk on vinyl. Before leaving The Tea House Dick filched the tattered American Popular Mechanics magazine from under the table leg as a memento of his first night in the US; he then made his way out into the night towards a nearby Motor Inn that had been advertised on The Tea House community noticeboard.

Sitting in his Quality Inn room contemplating his next move, Dick flicked through his Popular Mechanics magazine and was struck by an advertisement for Draftsmen Training at the Chicago Technical Institute. It would of course involve a trek halfway across the States but Dick was happy to accept that, more than anything, he was here for adventure.

The printing job Dick took on to earn the money to get to ChicagoIn order to save enough money to travel to Chicago, Dick Ealy picked up a job printing business cards and stationery out of a small office block in the nearby town of Concrete. It was a depressing place to be, but Dick as always made the best of a bad situation and befriended a wealthy local factory owner, Steve, and his wife, Anne, who appreciated Dick’s honesty and optimism.

Steve and Anne loved to ski, but even more, they just loved to take this polite young man from the bottom of the world up their local mountain. By the time Dick Ealy was ready to bus his way to Chicago, what had started out Typography: to Dick it is something of immense beautyas simply a means to an end in Concrete had transformed into both a genuine appreciation of typesetting and a love of alpine life.

Out of sheer coincidence, on Dick Ealy’s bus aimed for Chicago was Hayden, the folk singer Dick had seen perform on his first night in the U.S.A. The days on the bus flew by as Dick traded with Hayden the rules of rugby and cricket for stories of great American roots musicians. Dick and Hayden made a number of welcome overnight stops and Dick was lucky enough to A treasured ticket from one of Hayden’s concertsexperience some of the most wonderful concerts he would ever see. Dick sincerely hoped Hayden would go on to great things and was never backward in telling him so.

Dick Ealy lived in Chicago for two years while completing his Draftsmen Training at the Chicago Technical Institute. It was a fairly intense and exhausting period for Dick and while he enjoyed the technical precision of draftsmenship, he didn’t find too many escapes from the day-to-day slog of studies and his part-time café work. Interestingly, when Dick had moments to spare he would seek refuge in the busy city streets of Chicago where he could happily people-watch, be inspired by the we-can-do-anything iron and stone skyscrapers, and take note of the beautifully ordinary city typography.

Dick Ealy’s DE-brand stencilIt was sitting on the steps outside a city apartment one day, watching city officials stencilling with spray-cans a banal “Mind Your Step” sign, that Dick saw how easily authority could be subverted by a simple re-working of the normally matter-of-fact stencil. With a cheeky grin, Dick Ealy foresaw how his Dick Ealy’s reclining glamour-girl stencilspare time in Chicago would be now spent, and using as his mantra something a street artist had said to him some weeks earlier – “leave the house before you find something worth staying in for” – Dick set about leaving his personal mark on the city’s blank canvas.

Now a qualified Draftsmen, Dick Ealy felt ready to move on to another city and New York City it was. Being financially burgeoning times, Dick quickly picked up a job with a very modern architecture firm, Khumbila Corporation, based in the heart of the Big Apple. Khumbila was at the forefront of technology and was investigating how they might benefit from the use of computers. Dick Ealy leapt on the opportunity to get involved and before long he was producing computer-generated architectural blueprints for new skyscrapers. Dick was fascinated by the possibilities that could now be realised through the power of these logical machines and saw that he was of more benefit to the company – and society even – if he moved away from being a computer user and instead became a computer programmer.

Dick Ealy spent the next few years as a computer programmer for Khumbila Corporation and later as a roaming consultant. Programming suited Dick’s propensity for problem-solving and testing the brain, but it wasn’t doing much for him creatively. Dick Ealy found himself drawn into the eclectic and often politically-charged NY music scene and in particular the No-Wave and improvisational Noise artists. One of the many Free Noise gigs Dick Ealy attended while in NYAlthough he despaired at the amount of drug-taking these people indulged in, Dick couldn’t deny a very real kinship towards this eccentric and passionate bunch, probably because it reminded him of the small-town community spirit he grew up with.

Dick Ealy made many close friends in New York, even managing to coax a number of them away from their ultimately damaging drug habits. Specifically, two people Dick has treasured memories of were Lisa, a NY artist with an absurd, even compulsive, fascination for the dainty (of all things, A photo of Roscoe, Dick Ealy’s skateboarding friend, from back in the daydoilies and patterned wallpaper) and Roscoe, a skateboarding adrenalin freak who had a love of the mountains greater than anyone Dick had met before. Dick, An early shot of adrenalin junkie RoscoeRoscoe and crew would escape to Mountain Creek in Vernon, NJ, virtually every weekend, and whenever there were mid-week freshies to be had they would be making their excuses at work and bailing out of the city on dawn patrol to claim first tracks. It was Roscoe that first got Dick onto a snowboard and out of his “fruit-boots” and Dick will never be able to thank Roscoe enough for this alpine renaissance.

Dick Ealy had learnt so much about himself that he would never have discovered had he stayed in his tiny Te Karaka town. Even so, with a rewarding journey across the USA under his belt, Dick was now longing for home. Funnily enough, sitting next to Dick on his flight back to Auckland, New Zealand, was another New Zealander named Kent. For the next 20 hours or so, with bleary but excited eyes, Kent and Dick yarned about their American experiences and Kent introduced Dick to this new thing that he reckoned was on the verge of changing the world. This thing was the Internet and Dick Ealy was awe-struck.

The power of the Internet changed Dick Ealy’s view of the world. All of a sudden the world had become one huge community. Dick could see that everyone’s voice could now be heard with equal volume. We could now all be so easily educated about so much more in the world. Being physically thousands of miles away no longer prevented us from gaining a real appreciation and understanding of other cultures. To this day it is this power of the Internet to bring people together to share their experiences, knowledge and wisdom that continues to drive Dick Ealy's focus in life:

"The fringe groups can shout, the oppressed can speak out and we all have so much more to care about!"
        -- Dick Ealy lamenting the Internet, July 2005

Well, that and clothing the masses!