Ken Wilmot: Legacy Award Recipient, The One Club Denver
By Brian Denison on Aug 26, 2018
From art directing shows for soldiers during WWII to developing the look of the early TV channels to overseeing the Denver Art Directors Club during the infamously creative 1960s, Ken Wilmot has done it all. And now, that includes taking home an extremely well-deserved The One Club Denver Legacy Award.
Ken Wilmot had a promising start to his career in art, earning two scholarships as early as 10th grade. But alas, World War II intervened and right out of high school, he entered the service. Serving in the European Theater as an Infantry Heavy Weapons replacement with the 7th Army, Ken wound up in Germany right as the war was nearing its end. To finish his tour, he joined forces with the 20th Special Services Unit, famous for the shows it put on for soldiers. These actors, artists and technicians created plays, concerts and other entertainment for the troops stationed in Europe, and then ultimately combined with the USO in 1946. While designing and building sets for the shows, Ken took a wide range of art classes at the University of Heidelberg.
Returning home, Ken landed a job at Agfa-Ansco, a camera company, where he worked with color film movie dailies for the motion picture industry. A year later, he attended New York’s Pratt Institute. Graduating in 1951, Ken took a full-time position in New York as Art Director for Eastern Corporation, and married Marie Self, of Englewood, Colorado, whom he had met at Pratt. Ken also did freelance art for the new TV networks that were just starting up on the East Coast. In the early 50s, Ken and Marie headed West for a a new adventure and Ken landed an Art Director job with the brand new KLZ-TV. Ken's experience with theater, film and graphic arts were a huge asset to the developing television business.
In 1965 Ken was elected President of the Denver Art Directors Club. Graphic design and advertising were going through an immensely creative period and there was a great need for a creative community to develop new ideas.
As Channel 7 grew into a new building and became KMGH, Ken was in charge of the production department and supervising commercials and documentaries as well as designing sets and graphics. The documentary “Road to Nowhere” won a national Emmy during Ken’s watch. After 25 years with Channel 7, Ken sought new challenges and joined Channel 6, which was then part of the Denver Public Schools. Ken again headed up the graphic department and helped the film documentary unit complete many award-winning projects. Ken then rebranded the station to SIX, and helped the team transition into an independent PBS station. After 20 years with SIX, Ken retired and resumed his love of painting, using all sorts of media–including digital paint programs. For the last 25 years, he's been doing all kinds of personal creative work and still has yet to run out of ideas. Ken has been an asset to the creative community for more than a half century, and The One Club could not be more proud to honor him with our Legacy Award, here in 2018.