The revitalization of Utica is being driven by the creativity and determination of entrepreneurs, who take a dream and make it into a business. Sixteen-year-old Deondre Linder is one of them.

Deondre is selling his drawings of the Utica skyline. He's already sold enough to need a second printing of the sketch. 

On a typical day, Deondre, who's a junior at Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School, hustles out the door to attend class and then gymnastics practice, which can last 3-4 hours every night. To pay for gas for his car, and "feed his sneaker habit," Deondre also teaches gymnastics and "Valley Warrior" classes three nights a week.

On Wednesdays, however, there's no gymnastics. Instead, Deondre takes part in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) at MVCC in Utica, where he's learning the ins and outs of creating his own business.

When asked how his artwork evolved into a viable business, Deondre said, "I was asked to be in a Utica Love art show earlier this year. I was working on a series of cityscapes in Sharpie marker and for the show, I took it a step further to create the Utica skyline in my own style. It turned out really well and it actually sold during that art show. It was from there that I realized I could turn my artwork into a business. Over the summer, the skyline illustration was used in the marketing pieces for the Levitt AMP Utica Music Series and I also started selling 8x10 prints of it during the concerts."

What's next for the young entrepreneur? Deondre says he plans to offer other products with his drawings on them, and develop a website so that he can sell more of his drawings online. He says, "Right now I'm starting to look at colleges to study graphic design or new media design. I plan on hopefully owning my own business, but it looks like with YEA... this dream will come a little quicker than planned."

If you're interested in purchasing one of Deondre's prints, you can email him at


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