Artist & scientist Guy Harvey awarded entrepreneurship medal from Elon
Elon President Leo M. Lambert bestowed the Elon University Medal for Entrepreneurial Leadership this week on an internationally acclaimed artist who directs proceeds from his business ventures to marine wildlife conservation efforts and oceanic research projects.
Elon University leaders honored one of the world’s leading marine wildlife artists this week for his longtime entrepreneurial spirit that uses proceeds from stunning portraits to support the research and conservation of his gamefish subjects.
Guy Harvey - creator of the popular line of T-shirts featuring hand drawn and painted tropical gamefish - visited campus on Feb. 23, 2015, to receive the Elon University Medal for Entrepreneurial Leadership in an afternoon program inside the Koury Business Center.
Hundreds of students and professors crowded the LaRose Digital Theatre to hear from the affable Harvey, who shared stories from his career and advocated for the protection of the world’s oceans. “What an honor,” Harvey said upon accepting the medal from Elon University President Leo M. Lambert. “I really don’t deserve this. I have a team of people who help me do what I do.”
The Elon University Medal for Entrepreneurial Leadership recognizes an entrepreneur who is a leader in his or her industry and who exemplifies the values of Elon University, including integrity, innovation and creativity, passion for lifelong learning, and a commitment to building a dynamic community.
“I knew him primarily as an artist,” Lambert told the audience prior to bestowing the award. “It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to learn fully about his credentials that I understood his wonderful contributions to science. What a privilege it is to have you here.”
Harvey combines his unique artistic talents with his background as a marine biologist, diver, photographer and angler, to create marine wildlife art with an unmatched authenticity and visual appeal.
Self-taught, Harvey’s artistic roots can be traced back to his childhood on the Caribbean isle of Jamaica. Though interested in pursuing his love of marine art, Harvey opted for scientific training and pursued an education and career in marine biology. Having graduated with honors in marine biology from Aberdeen University in Scotland, he returned home to Jamaica to resume his education, earning his doctorate in fisheries biology from the University of the West Indies.
Harvey teamed up with the American Fishing Tackle Company to create a unique line of coastal lifestyle sportswear. Paramount is an immensely popular and always expanding t-shirt line, featuring amazingly detailed and colorful marine life images. Harvey also operates a large art gallery and gift shop on Grand Cayman Island.
Formerly Jamaica’s International Gamefish Association representative, Harvey has been a member of the IGFA Board of Trustees since 1993. He is an active advocate for marine conservation and established the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, an organization that funds marine conservation research and educational initiatives.
“Why do we do all of this?” Harvey said “The world’s oceans aren’t an endless source of food. As our population grows, we place more and more pressure on limited resources. Many species, especially the ones I interact with, are certainly very overfished and overexploited. And we know so little about them.”
For Harvey, the key to protecting the ocean and its inhabitants is education. It takes expensive research to explain how humans impact fish populations. “Without knowledge, you can’t have sustainable management,” he said. “And knowledge is generally lacking.”
Harvey also offered advice to anyone in the room with aspirations of making a career in art. The technology available today didn’t exist when he first started licensing his artwork in the 1980s.
“I never had Facebook. I never had a website. I never had any of these modern day accoutrements to help you broadcast your work to the public,” he said. “Not that Facebook replaces legwork and visiting trade shows, but you can reach lots of people instantly nowadays that you couldn’t 20 or 30 years ago. Make use of that tool.”
The Elon University Medal for Entrepreneurial Leadership is an annual award supported by the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, named for Elon Trustee Ed Doherty and his wife, Joan, entrepreneurs from New Jersey whose daughter graduated from Elon in 2007. Ed and Joan Doherty established the center with a gift to the university and have been longtime Elon supporters.
The center, led by Professor Kevin O’Mara, serves as a resource for students of all majors with an interest in using entrepreneurial skills to create new ventures.
“You don’t need to be a business student to be an entrepreneur,” Raghu Tadepalli, dean of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, said in his opening remarks on Monday. “Our entrepreneurship curriculum is built on drawing students from many majors and minors.”
Past recipients of the Elon University Medal for Entrepreneurial Leadership include:
2009 - Jim Goodnight, CEO and founder, SAS
2010 - Bernard A. Harris, Jr., CEO and managing partner, Vesalius Ventures, Inc.
2012 - Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; founder, Grameen Bank; chairman, Yunus Centre
2013 - Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, founder and CEO, Pace Communications; chairman of the board, American Red Cross
2014 - Patrick G. Awuah, Jr., founder and president, Ashesi University