creative director of Racquet Cosmetics for Wilson Sporting Goods in
Chicago, he is not your average art director. "Iím not the kind
of person who walks around wearing black clothes with a serious
expression at all times," he laughs. "I love color, and I
love to laugh and have a good time. Thatís the real me."
A former model
and artist, Khazal has been with Wilson for 12 years, starting out as
a graphic designer shortly after graduating from the UW-Milwaukee with
a fine arts degree. "I actually got a degree in civil engineering
first, but discovered it just wasnít for me," he says.
He advanced from
his entry-level position to the top echelon at Wilson, designing
racquets for such tennis super stars as Venus and Serena Williams and
Roger Federer, among other notables. His enthusiasm for his work is
clear. "I love working with these athletes. Itís a real
challenge to design what they want and make it accessible to our
customers," he says.
Seeing what a
success he has become, itís hard to believe the circumstances
surrounding Khazalís arrival in the States. "In 1990, I was 17
and Iíd just graduated from the British School in Kuwait. I came to
Milwaukee to visit my cousin, who was a student at Marquette
University, and to investigate the colleges here," he recalls.
"Three days after I arrived, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
happened. I couldnít go back home and I lost all communication with
my family." Later, he sought asylum in the U.S. and became a
citizen. His family sought asylum in England, where his mother now
It was a lonely
time for Khazal during his early years in Milwaukee, and he expressed
his emotions through painting. "I painted a lot of watercolors
that reflected my feelings of separation and isolation," he says.
"But I was so fortunate to make a good friend whose family pretty
much adopted me, and weíre still very close. In fact, our entire
families have become close."
Khazal doesnít have much free time for painting, with his work and
his daily commute from Milwaukee to Wilsonís headquarters near OíHare
Airport. "I tried living in Chicago, but Milwaukee is my home
now," he says. And, he would like to get back to painting.
"Iím thinking of buying an easel and putting it up in my room
so I have to see it every day. Maybe Iíll start painting
again," he says.
Khazal see himself in the future? "I will always work in the
arts. Itís what I always dreamed of and what I love," he says.