Robyn Miller, Sunday Gleaner Writer
After returning to the island in 1970 and distinguishing himself as one of Jamaica's finest graphic artists Howard Moo Young had, by the end of the decade, reaped the kind of success that courts hard work and commitment.
Now wearing several hats - advertising and graphic artist, calligrapher, and artist - he had begun to make a name for himself as a photographer.
The year was 1978 and a pivotal time in Jamaica's history or, as Moo Young puts it, "a year of violence, and violence, and violence! Terrible!"
A One Love Peace Concert was organised by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church at the National Stadium to celebrate the sixth anniversary of Haile Selassie's visit to Jamaica.
In a surprise move, Bob Marley invited staunch political rivals, the People's National Party's Michael Manley and Jamaica Labour Party leader, Edward Seaga, to shake hands in a show of unity.
Moo Young was commissioned to do the poster and advertising campaign for the concert.
"I did not plan to go down to the stadium that night," he said.
But he did.
"I think that's one of the best pictures I've taken," Moo Young beamed. "I haven't exposed that one," he said, pointing to another among the scores that littered his walls.
Of wide acclaim today, the One Love Peace Concert collection is permanently housed at the Bob Marley Museum in St Andrew. Moo Young donated an additional set to the National Gallery in 2008.
According to him, to this day, "Bob is the only person to have brought Seaga and Manley together in life and death."
"They shook hands again at the National Arena as Bob lay in his coffin," this time, with Seaga as prime minister in 1981.
By 1979, Moo Young had begun to take himself seriously as a photographer, entering several photography competitions.
He won Jamaica's only medals that year at the Commonwealth Photography Exhibition in Edmonton, Canada - silver in colour portraiture and bronze in the black-and-white sports category.
That same year, the Institute of Jamaica awarded him the Centenary Medal for Photography.
In between, he won The Gleaner's top billing award for advertising for five successive years.
At the same time, the partnership that had emerged as Moo Young Butler, the business he started at age 27, had taken off, mining some of the biggest corporate accounts in the country.
"My first big account was Victoria Mutual. Now, in those days, Victoria Mutual was outstripping Jamaica National. They were the giants. Little by little, Moo Young Butler started to make a mark. Everybody was watching us!"
"We won The Gleaner's first creative award with a Road Runner Ice Cream. We were the top billing agency in the country," he said.
Meanwhile, another partnership was brewing. Lily Hugh Samm, herself a Chinese descendant, had caught Moo Young's eyes. They got married and the union produced sons Joel and Patrick.
But it didn't last.
Thirteen years later, Moo Young met and fell in love with Barbara Yap.
"She met me through photography. Each time I came in The Gleaner with my photographs, she recognised the name. She asked another friend for my number, saying she wanted to learn photography. She joined the photography club, even winning a photo competition over me."
The two got married in 1990, adding daughters Laura and Alyssa to their family.
A Christian from a tender age, Moo said "God played a very important part in my life, even as an artist".
That relationship started when he was a youngster singing with Barry Belamy, Noel McFarlene and Ortie Rainford as an original member of the Teen Time Male Quartet. The group later went to be called David Keane and the Sunshine Singers.
A past president of the Kingston Chapter Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship International, Moo Young had done the advertising campaigns for several gospel crusades in Jamaica while wife, Barbara, concentrated on photography.
Moo Young had immersed himself in his photography and, in 1982, achieved a feat that has never been done. He emerged Champion Photographer in the Jamaica Cultural Development Corporation (JCDC) Festival Photography Competition, winning a whopping 17 medals - five gold, five silver and seven bronze. He would go on to cop 22 merit awards in the competition.
In 2003, he would again take that familiar path, becoming Champion Photographer in the JCDC National Festival Photography Competition.
Later that year, Moo Young was presented with the Hall of Fame Award for Excellence in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of photography by the Caribbean Development for the Arts & Culture Foundation.
After a six-year battle with cancer, Moo Young's wife, Barbara, made her transition. A painful memory for her husband, Moo Young is consoled by the fact that "she didn't suffer for too long".
Moo Young continued to received recognition for his exploits with the camera and, in 2008, was recognised by the International Freelance Photographers Organization (IFPO), US with an induction into the IFPO hall of fame and an honorary degree of distinction diploma as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations.
He capped off the year with the prestigious Musgrave Silver Medal for Photography.
Moo Young's achievements are exhaustive, stretching well beyond the space provided here.
He has been commissioned by the Ministry of Education to conduct workshops on graphic design for high-school art teachers, an initiative geared at improving the entries in the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Tourism poster competition.
He continues to be a judge on the annual photography workshop, giving of his time to the children of the Southside community, through the Grace and Staff Foundation.
He also lectures at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication during the summer.
Of late, the artist-extraordinaire has retreated to his drawing, pouring himself into creating beautiful hand-crafted pencil portraits of individuals and their families, mainly from photographs.
His latest projects include a stunning photo spread in the current issue of Buzzz Magazine.
He also recently contributed several photographs including from his 1978 One Love Peace Concert collection to the Jamaica Information Services' Our Golden Jubilee: Snapshots of Jamaica book, to commemorate Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence.
His 'World Collection' photographs, from the 1978 One Love Peace Concert, are set to become a collector's item, a "tribute", he said, "to Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence".
A collector's item, the set of seven original photographs plus a special bonus of Marley which the artist said has not been seen in 50 years, will be packaged in a laser-engraved hand-made wooden box and made available by year end. The collection, which will be sold via the Internet, will also carry a certificate of authenticity and a mini version of the poster advertising the concert.
As the curtains are drawn on an illustrious career, Moo Young gives some advice to budding artists: "Have the passion," he said, "practise to draw every day, be interested in every art exhibition [as] you can learn from seeing other people's work."