Since graduating from Hobart, Gabe Taxman ’11 and Walter Cruz ’11 have embarked on lives of consequence. In addition to their many and varied experiences around the globe, the Hobart roommates joined forces recently to launch an online design company called Align Creations. Taxman serves as CEO and artistic director, while Cruz serves as the company’s director of social media.
Founded by Taxman, Align Creations is a web-based graphic T-shirt company that thrives as a community of artists and musicians, creating mobile canvases that carry messages of individual expression and respect for difference.
“We encourage people to live in integrity, have a voice and be the difference they’d like to see,” reads the company’s mission statement. Align Creations’ T-shirts range from fun graphic designs to clever messages to pieces selected from their community of artists.
For both alums, the path to collaborating on Align Creations, though different for each, was shaped by their time at HWS. Taxman, a fine arts major and peer education and human relations minor, completed an independent study with Professor of Art and Architecture Phillia Yi, who also mentored him and who worked patiently, he says, to “get across to me the difference between fine arts and commercial arts.” During his time at Hobart, Taxman played tennis, participated in the social justice committee, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and studied abroad in Italy.
His experience in the social justice committee and his classes contributed to the way he now pursues his passion for art through Align Creations. “My views and opinions were broadened and it came to me how far we have come as people in society and how much further we have to go,” says Taxman. “My entire T-shirt series sheds light on social issues and hopes to give back to our community with the power of knowledge.”
An architectural studies major at the Colleges, Cruz was the president of the Latin American Organization, co-founded a music drive for the Boys & Girls Club, studied abroad in Rome, and even found time to play rugby while at HWS.
After graduating, Cruz accepted a fellowship to work in Nanjing, China, at the Dipont Education Management Group, an educational services company. He now serves as a Northeast Region Program Associate for A Better Chance, an organization that supports academically talented youth of color by connecting them to education opportunities.
Cruz is currently organizing an art show on March 29 at AM Studio in Midtown Manhattan. The title and theme of the show is “Listen.” “Whether you are listening to the lyrics of a song, listening to a friend re-tell a tale or listening to the message embedded in a book you read, it requires active engagement,” explains Cruz. He will use several different interpretations of the word “listen” in the show, which will consist of visual arts, live music, and spoken poetry. Cruz adds, “It’s a chance for those of us who hear, to start listening instead.”
“HWS helped me gain the confidence to accomplish anything I set my sights on. My post-grad life has been an amazing roller coaster ride,” says Cruz. And he and Taxman have only just begun.
In the photo above, Taxman and Cruz are pictured in Naples, Italy. The friends met while studying abroad in Rome.