Zenon Texeira is Creative Director of Opus, a company which he founded along with fellow Cardinal Wiseman alumnus, Karl Fowler. The company creates luxury publications focusing on some of the biggest names in sport, music, fashion and the arts. He has worked with celebrities including Michael Jackson, Prince, Wayne Rooney, Novak Djokovic, Lewis Hamilton, Diego Maradona, Vivienne Westwood and Kate Moss.
Zenon grew up in Hillfields, Coventry, and attended St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School before progressing to Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School.
Zenon said: “My time at Cardinal Wiseman was the best I could hope for from a school. My sisters and my cousins had gone there before me and I was the youngest, so I had a reputation to uphold.
“I had a few favourite teachers which really impacted on my life, particularly my basketball coach Mr Pierce and my art teacher during A Levels, Mr Barwell. They both gave me time and confidence. “I loved art, I was naturally good at it and I also loved English and we had a formidable teacher, Mr Giles, at A Level. I also loved sport – I was never good enough to be in the football team but at Cardinal Wiseman we had a basketball team which excelled. We went unbeaten for five years which was an amazing record.”
Zenon said he has many fond memories of Cardinal Wiseman, one of the proudest being elected by his peers to become Head Boy in sixth form. He added that the teachers at the school always encouraged pupils to succeed.
He said: “At school there were individual teachers who gave you belief in yourself and didn’t want you to put limits on what you could do and what you could achieve in life.
“When I was getting older I wanted to be a television presenter, however I unfortunately didn’t get the grades I needed to do a communications and multimedia course at Middlesex which is what I had my heart set on.
“My careers teacher advised me to do a foundation course in a subject I enjoy – in my case this was art – and see what the industry is all about. That was the best advice I’d been given in six years, to do what I enjoy”
Zenon’s closest friends are still those he met in school, and he even went on to go into business with his best friend who he went through both primary and secondary school with.
Following his foundation course, Zenon went to Coventry Polytechnic to study graphic design. In his third year he did a placement at Coventry University which had an in-house design studio and from this was offered a full time position at the university where he stayed for 13 years.
He was then given the opportunity to start his own business, Opus, with Karl Fowler. The company creates largeformat luxury publications focusing on the biggest names in sport, music, fashion and the arts.
He said: “The idea behind our company was to create books which had integrity. At the time, people were putting out sports biographies that we felt let down by.
“We thought they weren’t as authentic as they should be and didn’t have the originality that sports biographies could have.
“We’ve spent the last 10 years building up the Opus brand producing our beautiful, large books. I look after the team of designers who put the books together, making sure that they feel like a family of books, that they meet the standards of each Opus and I also contribute to the photography.”
The company’s first Opus book was created for Manchester United and following its success the team went on to create books for Arsenal, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Super Bowl and about Major League Baseball.
They then diversified away from sport and created Opus books for music legends including Michael Jackson and Prince, fashion icon Vivienne Westwood and ones based on architecture, religion and statesmen.
Creating the books has taken Zenon across the world and has seen him work with his childhood music heroes, however it was the Vivienne Westwood Opus that has been his favourite project.
He said: “The energy and excitement in creating the Vivienne Westwood Opus was untouchable for me. I took all of the photos with Vivienne and we had the likes of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, the Duchess of York and Helena Bonham Carter there. So we were photographing all of these wonderful celebrities in Vivienne’s garments to create a giant book to celebrate her fashion.”
As well as continuing to grow the Opus brand, Zenon hopes to create books for schools to raise the aspirations of future generations. He said: “My future goal would be to create books around different inspirational individuals for schools to let children know what they can achieve and allow them to dream.” Zenon said that if he could work with anyone it would be Stephen Hawking, adding: “As an individual he’s contributed so much and would be a very interesting person to meet and photograph.”
Advice to current pupils
He said: “The best advice I could give to current pupils is to always believe in yourself and never listen to anyone who says that you can’t do something, because you can.