Brodie Stephens' napkin sketch was honored in Arch Record's contest.

My father is an architect and architectural illustrator, and of the three brothers born to my mom and dad, I have been the most consistent as an artist. While my brother took a degree in fine arts and I a first degree in architecture, he’s gone on to being a film director who draws hardly at all. I’ve gone on to being the general counsel of Perkins+Will who draws as much as he can. Drawing calms me down, and gives me something almost therapeutic to focus on without distraction.

Perkins+Will is passionate about design and the implications of design and architectural practice on the planet. Because of this focus on design, one of the younger designers here in the San Francisco office promoted a ‘contest’—mostly an opportunity to sketch and drink beer one evening—for submissions to the Architectural Record 2011 Cocktail Napkin Sketch Contest.

Brodie Stephens is general counsel for Perkins+Will.

One morning I was in the office before dawn and noticed the sun coming up over the East Bay hills through clouds. The view was framed by the Lefty O’Doul Bridge, and I was inspired by the contrast between the dark rectilinear steel superstructure and the light of the breaking dawn. It took me about an hour to draw.

I’ve received good-natured teasing that if I’m going to start drawing, then my colleagues are going to start drafting contracts. But underlying it all is a recognition of our collective love of the visual arts. And that’s pretty cool.