Joseph Gonzalez takes his role as a father very seriously.

The Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana graphic designer and Blackbean Photography owner enjoys his professional career but loves just one thing even more—fatherhood.

“Being a dad is the greatest,” Gonzalez says. “I have always enjoyed my work and the creative side of what I do, but my kids help me take that experience to a whole new level. They are at the age when they soak things up like a sponge.”

Gonzalez and his wife Lisa, of Valparaiso, have been married for 12 years and have two boys—Meryck, 10, and Greyson, 8—and a 4-year-old daughter Carson. Gonzalez shares his work and creativity with his kids, especially his passion for art and photography.

When studying fine art at Indiana University Northwest, he found himself painting monsters and characters while his colleagues were duplicating van Gogh and Picasso pieces. Gonzalez didn't find gratification in those types of assignments so he uprooted and headed west to Las Vegas. He returned in 2000 and went back to college to obtain his bachelor's degree in design.

Gonzalez says he finds the human face fascinating and loves to capture it on the canvas and in photos. He takes pride in graphic design and the technological advancements that continue to evolve. “I love the fact that you can instantly see the results of what you create,” he says. “Being a designer and a photographer, you see things develop right before your very eyes. What’s cool is that when you took a photo or painted something ten years ago, it was seen by hundreds when you showcased it in a gallery. But nowadays, they can be seen instantly by thousands.”

His own office is meticulously filled with art that could easily be conversation pieces in a museum.

Ro Loughmiller, business development director at Hartsfield Village, a retirement and assisted living facility in Munster, feels Gonzalez is multi-talented and refers to him as "an artistic genius."

"Joseph is so wonderful," Loughmiller says. "He created this amazing video for one of our military veteran seniors who always dreamed of being a pilot. Robert Bolda was granted his wish through our Follow Your Heart program and Joseph documented the entire dream come true."

Gonzalez does video as well as takes portraits with his Canon 5D Mark II and recently his son was bitten by the shutterbug when he asked his father for a camera for his last birthday.

“I love that I can share experiences with my kids,” Gonzalez says. “My daughter loves cutting shapes out of construction paper.” He recalls his daughter’s love for cutting when she recently decided to give his wife Lisa a complimentary haircut while she was fast asleep.

“For me, I always ask other dads and mentors about what they would change about their life and mostly all of them tell me they’d spend more time with their kids,” Gonzalez says. “I don’t want to be one of those dads that feels the same way.”

Gonzalez says his childhood relationship with his father was “less than inspiring,” which made him want to change the cycle with his own children. “I was really upset with my dad but it challenged me to be better and be actively involved in their life,” he says. “Kids need our time and it’s important to share things with them because they never forget the little things.”

Gonzalez spends a lot of time playing basketball and taking photos of food with his kids. "One of their friends was on MasterChef Junior last season and they became fascinated with the idea of food preparation and design," Gonzalez says. "It's a fun family initiative we all appreciate."

Gonzalez quickly points out that he is also very strategic when it comes to completing his own personal business projects. “I don’t do anything until they are asleep,” he says. “They need that quality time and I will always give that to them.”