Peter Gourniak is launching Artica Content Studios — a production house that will create, develop, and acquire content for the web, TV and film. (SPECIAL TO THE MORNING CALL/PAUL PELAK)
Renaissance painters know that every stroke of their brush matters if they wanted to create something memorable. Painters always start with the darker hues and work towards the light. That process accurately describes the career arc of Peter Gourniak.
Gourniak knew from a young age that he wanted a career in producing art but was unsure of exactly how to make that happen. Once he began studying commercial art at Lehigh County Vo-Tech (now Lehigh Career and Technical Institute) under the artful eye of Bruce Silvernell, Gourniak received the instruction he needed. “Bruce taught me many things, but one of the most important was how to pre-visualize a concept. Before I even get to a set or pick up the camera, I plan what I want to do and how to get it done,” said Gourniak.
As the production manager for Makoul Productions in the mid 1980s, he met photographer Paul Pelak. They ended up working out of the same building at 702 Hamilton St. in downtown Allentown and collaborated on some projects. Gourniak was running his modeling agency at the time, Allure Models, while Paul was photographing fashion models for local department stores, thus creating a natural synergy.
In the mid 1990s — when Hess’s announced it would close its downtown Allentown location and other the stores along Hamilton Street started heading to the suburbs — Gourniak knew if he didn’t evolve his skills, the light he spent his career pursuing could grow dim.
Gourniak chased down many new opportunities, proving his resilience to push beyond fears or trepidation by diversifying his client base. Gourniak ventured into corporate production design, event management, as well as digital photography. Because his company was in Allentown, it helped him keep his overhead low. That allowed him to work his way through the dark years.
Pelak remembers Gourniak during that time. “Peter has never let me down or gone back on his word. He’s was not afraid to learn new processes or new techniques and he’s the closest thing I have to a brother,” he said.
His perseverance paid off. When Jane Heft, director of project design and corporate branding for City Center Investment Corp. needed a photographer to track the construction progress of the new PPL arena, Gourniak got the call. “I wanted the documentation to feel raw and unedited. Like a musician, Peter tells the story between the lines. He doesn't wait for the perfect shot, he sees the beauty in the rough,” said Heft.
After a career that’s lasted nearly 40 years, others might be ready to step away from the light and start winding down. Not Gourniak . He’s launching his latest endeavor, Artica Content Studios — a creatively driven soup-to-nuts production house that will create, develop, and acquire entertaining and educational content for the web, TV, and film.
“I’ve been fortunate in my career in that I got to work on productions and events with people I respected, learned from and admired. Art is humbling; it’s like yoga or karate, I am never more in the moment than when creating something,” added Gourniak.
Gourniak’s career can be summed up perfectly by a quote from Leonardo da Vinci. “Learning acquired in youth arrests the evil of old age; and if you understand that age has wisdom for its food, you will so conduct yourself in youth that your old age will not lack for nourishment.”
William Childs is the director of Marketing and Communications at Trifecta Technologies in Allentown. His column can be found on Business Cycle. He can be reached at email@example.com
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