There really is a method to the studio madness…and today we are bidding him a fond farewell. You may know him as a photographer, videographer, writer, or teacher. Though he also describes himself  as a “pretend blogger, hobbyist artist, and wannabe podcaster.” More distinctly, he’s a person I uniquely associate with epigrammatic humor and pithy catchphrases like “previously awesome” and “apathetic Thursday.”

phil_portraits

That’s right, “Your friendly neighborhood Philip” is leaving the studio for a position at United International College in Zhuhai, China. Phil has been Bethany’s studio production specialist for about six years. I didn’t have the pleasure of working with him until 2014, but since then I’ve come to really appreciate the guy for his undeniable resourcefulness, his great enthusiasm for making things, and his extra phone charger. He’s also something of an unofficial genius bar, and he’s notorious for his unapologetic fandom of 8-bit music.

The BLC Studios family is full of Phil anecdotes—most of which present an interesting blend of whimsy, technology, and heart. Here are a few:

“I remember first noticing Phil at Bethany when he wore a homemade Nintendo Metroid hat. He’s been extremely helpful as a go-to-guy for many video-related projects I’ve been involved in and he will be missed—almost as much as his self-dispensing M&M jar which you can follow on Twitter (@PhilsMnMJar).”– David Norris (institutional communication)
“For some reason in my old age, I decided I should learn Final Cut Pro. I have never had a class in computers and didn’t know anything about the creative aspect of video editing. I totally relied on Phil to help me, explain things to me, and basically hold my hand whenever I came into the studio. He never made fun of me, or scolded me, or refused to help. What an example of the Bethany spirit!” – Bill Bukowski (studio art)
“Phil and I have had multiple conversations about his plans to put a Caribou Coffee in his house or in the studio—both of which he planned out in great detail and had logical reasoning for, as Phil always does.” – Megan Maschoff (2016)
“I will never forget Phil coming to The Scroll  meeting wearing that bright green hat. It is thanks to Phil that I had the nerve to start The Scrawl. I wasn’t sure BLC was up for a spoof publication, but his crane over the YFAC story convinced me otherwise. We will miss him around here and my kids will also miss waving at him in the car we can spot blocks away.” – Denice Woller (studio art)
“When I moved from Connecticut to Bethany I had to learn everything about the studio. Phil was patient and calm with me as I got up to speed with today’s technology. I am always thankful that he took the time to show me what we had and how it worked. If it wasn’t for Phil, I’d probably still be on Mac OS Classic.”– Greg Vandermause (studio manager)
“It isn’t a Friday in the studio without Phil or Greg playing Rebecca Black’s Friday on loop.”
– Sarah Meilner (student)
“When my iMac’s hard drive was starting to fail, I asked Phil if he had a spare to back up my files temporarily. Instead, he offered to replace my hard drive and install a second solid-state drive for even faster results! My iMac and myself are forever grateful for his help and skills at Apple surgery.” – Aimee Bruss (2015)

But it’s not all fun, games, hats, and computer operations. When I asked people about Phil, I heard these sentiments repeatedly:

“What I love about Phil is his tender Christian heart and his eagerness to always help me with things.” – Chaplain Don Moldstad (religion)
“I will always remember Phil’s friendliness, willingness to help, encouragement, and guidance. I was never afraid to ask Phil for help.” – Benjamin Weber (KTV technician)
“Even as a student, Phil was one of the most congenial and helpful people I had ever met. He thinks across disciplines and looks for opportunities that can benefit everybody. Of course I will remember Phil’s hats, but more than that are his kindness, work ethic, creativity, and his ability to keep everybody happy.” – Pete Bloedel (theatre)

Phil has supported the studio through multiple staffing changes and a number of new projects, large and small. We’re sad to see him go but we’re also super excited for him as he heads to China. Some of us are even covetous…as you’ll read in this note:

“Dear Phil, I must admit I am envious of your upcoming adventure. Living abroad is so much more than simply traveling. You will absorb some of that foreign-ness into your personality and grow in a way that cannot be otherwise duplicated. You’re entering a world of “new”. New opportunities, challenges, fears, rewards, and epiphanies. Yes that list has almost as much negative as positive, but that is what makes it meaningful. It won’t be a vacation, but a new way of life. I’ve never known you to turn down new experiences even if they promise to be hard work or unpleasant. Living in China will be a tad bit more extreme than helping to making homemade cider or snack on candied anchovies, but I expect that you will take that in stride with the same little smirk of satisfaction. I wish you the very best as you explore China and Southeast Asia!”
– Kurt Paulsen (media arts)

I am eagerly awaiting the book and the “e-blasts” Phil will be making about his time at UIC . Until then, we’ll catch you on WeChat, Phil. Here’s one final note that may say it best:

“Phil Wels is a man of many literal and figurative hats. He’s always been willing to help and eager to impart knowledge. He is quick to encourage others to try new things and work with them to achieve their goals. He certainly made a lasting impact in my life during my short time at Bethany. I’m excited to see where his journey leads as he embarks on new adventures. I’m sure everyone he encounters will soon be smiling each time they see one of those unmistakable hats come bobbing into view.”
– Aaron Evans (2013)

Editor’s note: Phil, I’m not sure what will happen with this blog when you are no longer here to proof it. So I want to apologize in advance for all the double spaces that may hereafter slip by. Thank you for installing blinds in my kitchen window, for uninstalling MacKeeper on my laptop, and for Toad. It really is the end of an era—but I will not miss the Rebecca Black schtick, and I’m glad you’ll be finding someone else’s office garbage to abuse.
– Amanda

“May your hats fly as high as your dreams.” – Michael Scott