By Dee Cruce
It’s a known fact that our area is home to many of the South’s most acclaimed artists. And world-renowned artist and Destin local Clint Eagar, owner of Clint Eagar Designs is no exception. When you first walk into Clint Eagar’s gallery, you might wonder how many artists have their work featured here due to the varied techniques and mediums that range from sculptures, 3D canvases with detailed glass incorporation, breathtaking modern and abstract art, home décor and acrylic landscapes painted so precisely they will have you wondering if you are looking at a painting or a photograph. The answer is only one. Clint’s eclectic works incorporate a broad spectrum and are about as diverse as his upbringing.
Raised and educated in South Africa, Clint says he’s really from just about everywhere. Born to a middle-class family with tendencies to move frequently, Clint became of age during the turmoil raging in South Africa. In the late 70’s, he attended the Johannesburg School of Art and formally trained in sculpting, drawing, painting and mixed media. After graduating in 1981, he settled in Dallas where there was a support system of other South Africans who had fled the country to escape the escalating violence back home. His next adventure took him to Scotland where he ultimately was awarded a scholarship for his creative achievement while enrolled in the Advertising and Design program at the Fashion and Arts Institute.
Clint became involved with several businesses after college, always as the lead designer, including Frontline Graphics based in San Diego. By age 23, his work was internationally published. Frontline Graphics began selling his originals and his lithographs in Japan, Scandinavia, Australia, western Europe and the U.S. “I was young then, but I was starting to realize I was making the owners of the company a lot of money,” he said.
About the time Clint was thinking about going out on his own, the largest gift and home décor company in the country, Figi Graphics, hired him as Director of Product Design and Development. He was 25 years old and living his rendition of ‘the dream.’ He had a gorgeous office overlooking the San Diego Bay, a great salary, and free reign of his creative powers. He had a large staff of artists working for him from all different backgrounds. He redesigned a lagging line for Figi that generated millions in sales for the company. By the early 90’s, Figi was sending Clint to Asia to launch and manage production in factories in Taiwan. Recognizing the growing industry in Taiwan and China, Clint made the move to Taipei and set up his own design company. He was all of 27. He landed his first account shortly thereafter for a large picture framing company in Texas, and it wasn’t long before he was doing industrial designing for several large companies in the consumer products area.
In the mid-90’s, he wanted to develop his international design and art consulting company, and moved back to the states. “Many headquarters of the companies I worked with were in Chicago, so it seemed to make sense to be closer to the customer,” Clint recalled. It proved to be a very good move. He was able to build up his customer base with very successful importers, including, Pier 1, Stein Mart, CBK, Ganz, K-Mart, Wilton Industries, J.C. Penny, Kirkland’s Home Stores, Venture Stores, Disney and Costco and others.
Clint’s International Trading and Import/Export company expanded and became established. He opened a major office and showroom in China, with a staff of 110 and a 35,000 sq. ft. facility. Business was booming and he expanded his design consulting and services to Europe and landed many accounts in the UAE, as well, mostly home décor stores, gift shops, and lighting studios.
So, how did this internationally known artist and world traveler find his way here? “Well, my wife, Effie and I visited a friend in Destin a few years ago and, in the matter of a few days we were in love. Chicago’s cold you know,” he said with a chuckle. Clint and Effie bought a house in Destiny East in 2017 and opened Clint Eagar Designs in Uptown Grayton Circle, Grayton Beach. Clint says our area reminds him of the beauty of South Africa where he grew up. Working on 30A has inspired Clint to get back to his painting roots, where he spends most of his time in his studio in the back of the gallery, though he’s still working with a few favored corporate companies on the side. It’s an area amenity to have a master of the craft like this. In collaboration with “Theo of South Walton” and the Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles, Clint created a painting of Theo, developed a “Theo” product line, Christmas ornaments, A Theo Pillow and of course, the classic plush turtle. Proceeds support the Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles. Visit Clint Eagar’s website at www.clinteagardesign.com or treat yourself to a visit.