Home  :  Faces of Parkland  

Alumni Spotlight

Al Fleener

Al Fleener
Owner/Creative Director, Surface 51
Degree: AS
Major: Communication: Visual Arts
Class Year: 1984

The Dream
Al, a Monticello native, knew he would appreciate having a job that would incorporate what he liked to do best: drawing.

The Plan
After a few years exploring radio broadcasting in college, Al decided to follow a friend’s advice and try Visual Arts at Parkland College, which he started in 1981.

The Support
Al credits former Parkland graphic design instructor Julie Jacobs with boosting his confidence to start his career.
“Julie was wonderful and super practical. She brought to the classroom a real sense of what it would be like once we got out into the workforce. Giving us the tools to work with clients was really important to her. It gave me real-world perspective and a firm foundation to build on.”

The Connections
After Parkland, Al spent the next 20 years working in the advertising, design, and marketing industry before starting Surface 51, his own full-service creative agency. He oversees all design, sales, and day-to-day operations for the company, and works with clients to craft their marketing strategies. Surface 51 has become one of most successful advertising agencies in the area. “I do what I do because it’s a passion; I love what I do, and wouldn't trade it for any other career.”

The Future
Al has also given back to Parkland students through teaching at the college for several semesters. As for Surface 51, these first few years have already fulfilled so many of Al’s professional goals, it seems hard to ask for more. But he’ll try…
“Maybe if we get Puma for a client next year…that's a goal, right?”


Contact Information

Parkland College
2400 West Bradley Avenue
Champaign, IL 61821
Phone: 217.351.2200
Toll Free: 800.346.8089


© Parkland College
2400 West Bradley Ave | Champaign, IL 61821 | 217.351.2200 | 888.467.6065
The Mission of Parkland College is to engage the community in learning.