His work adds an entirely new dimension to the Pop art movement.
“We had just purchased a popcorn popper and I thought it would be a great spot to post something each day about safety,” said David Sawyer, plant operator at Lawnwood Ready Mix in Fort Worth, Texas. “I started posting illustrations that I called Food For Thought because I hoped people would look at them while their popcorn popped.”
The first of his works in November 2014 was well received by the local team of ready mix employees. Soon, he was drawing two or more cartoons a week as others across the division began requesting them for their use. Just over a year later, Food For Thought often reaches thousands of employees through signage, email or other means.
Focusing on a particular element of safety, each of Sawyer’s illustrations serves as a simple reminder to make safe decisions at work, at home and on the road.
His ideas come from just about everywhere, he said.
If an employee reports a slick spot on the floor, for example, Sawyer will turn it into a general cartoon reminding people to guard against slips and falls.
During the holidays, he distributed a cartoon featuring Christmas tree ornaments while reminding people not to “go too far out on any limbs.”
Another Christmas-themed illustration – distributed during a season when many travel – urged calm on the roadways by depicting an angry Santa Claus behind the wheel of a car inching closer and closer to a road rage incident.
“Unfortunately, there’s an endless flow of ideas because there are so many ways you can have an accident,” he said. “It just goes on and on.”
Though among his more popular artistic ventures, Sawyer’s illustrations are by no means the only vehicle for his self-expression.
A musician since the age of 11, he plays a variety of string instruments – including the guitar and the fiddle – and has toured the world, playing his music in countries as distant as Russia and Japan. In November 2015, the Western Music Association (WMA) co-honored him as Male Yodeler of the Year.
But his music has also served another purpose: it’s brought him closer to his family. After developing an act with his wife, Kathy Sawyer, the couple expanded their performance as their family grew. Today, Simple Gifts, as the family band is known, includes their daughter, Leah, 14, and son, David Sergey, 12.
While Sawyer has employed his fiddle as a means to keep employees engaged during safety meetings, his illustrations have met much greater success within Martin Marietta.
Amanda Miller, manager of communications and governmental affairs in the southwest and cement divisions, said Food For Thought is an effective means through which important Company ideas can be spread across the employee base.
“David’s drawings are visually appealing and resonate with a wide audience,” she said. “He takes key safety concepts and graphically captures them so that anyone can quickly understand the message.”
Kay Scott, a safety administrator at Tyler Central Ready Mix in Texas, said she uses Food For Thought each week while organizing safety meetings for the Southwest Ready Mix Region.
“David is extremely creative and always willing to work on a special project,” Scott said. “There have been many times when I’ve asked him to draw something for a specific safety topic. He did quite a bit of work for the roll-out of our Guardian Angel program.”
Though drawing Food For Thought is not in his official job description, Sawyer said he views the cartoons as a multi-purposed extension of his regular duties; the works allow him to serve as a wingman to his fellow employees while simultaneously adding another element of interest to his day.
“I never really know what I’ll be involved in,” he said. “One day, I’m drawing a cartoon, the next, I’m picking concrete up off the side of the road. I just like getting into the thick of it and working with people.”