Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Connecting the dots
A Brighton resident brings new life to an old game.
By MAGGIE RAMSAY
Once David Kalvitis got started he couldn't stop.
One dot led to another, then another, until he got to the point of no return.
It is an addiction, he warns, or at least that has been his experience.
"For some people it is like eating a bag of potato chips - once you start it is hard to stop," the Brighton native said.
Staff Photo / JOHN D. HANLON
Award-winning dot-to-dot puzzles creator David Kalvitis sits in his home office in Brighton. He has five published books and his puzzles are published in many newspapers around the country.
Since Kalvitis, 43, began his business, Monkeying Around, selling dot-to-dot puzzles, they have been making their way into national and international newspapers, and are selling on many store shelves.
He has self-published five books - selling 135,000 copies - and is syndicated in newspapers. HeHe has published three versions of "The Greatest Dot-to-Dot! Puzzles," and two series of the "The Greatest Newspaper Dot-to-Dot! Puzzles."
"I just kept plugging away and doing it," he said. "there was an opening there ... it appeals to a large range of people."
They connect people, he said: "It brings out the kid in all of us."
And, he added, they are easy.
The toy industry agrees. His books have won national honors, including the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval for 2003, Informal Education Product of the Year for 2003-04, Dr. Toy's Best Cl;assic Toys for 2004, the Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice Award for 2004 and the Oppenheim Portfolio Best Toy Award for 2005.
Kalvitis's dot-to-dot puzzles are not the usual one liners, he said.
"I started to come up with different ways of doing it," he said. "I incorporated other variations that make it trickier."
His puzzles have multiple lines, connecting symbols and other coordinates. The numbers climb well over 100 to make it more advanced, he said.
That way the solution to the puzzle isn't given away at the start.
"It is not hard," he said, "but, I have made them harder so they aren't so silly and simple."
By using this formula, he said, it gives a more detailed, intricate image in the end.
"it is like opening a present on every page ... you don'r know what you are going to get," he said.
He believes the magic of connecting the dots is being able to create a picture in the end.
"This is basically constructing a picture that someone else assembles later on," Kalvitis said.
"I think people enjoy that."
And it is not as hard as doing a crossword or jigsaw puzzle, he said, "this is the easiest out of all the puzzles."
Kalvitis started Monkeying Around six years ago, first as a hobby, while working as a graphic designer, but he had hopes it would become a full-time job. Now, it is. He works from home and has hired a prt-time assistant to help out.
Kalvitis grew up in Fairport and attended Monroe Community College and Syracuse University.
He moved to Brighton about 10 years ago when he got married to his wife, Irene.
He said he often gets his inspiration from his wife and two boys - Aaron, 4, and Nathan, 10.
"When I was doing graphic design it was mostly brochures that people say, 'Uh,' and toss in the garbage," he said. "I thought, you know, I wanted to do something that doesn't go in the garbage."
It took six years to take off, he said. Now that his sales have exceeded his expectation he is wondering what will come next.
"I know this has a life and it will have a death, too," Kalvitis said. "But how can I keep this going as long as I can?"
His goal is to produce two books next year. It takes him one yer, now, to produce one, he said.
He also wants to be syndicated in more newspapers, and sell more books in stores across the U.S., he said.
At Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Pittsford his books are high selleres, said Penelope Robinson, community relations manager.
"This year Sudoku puzzles have been flying off out shelves. They have really been the popular puzzle seller this season, but his dot-to-dots have been selling very well, too," Robinson said. People have coming up and asking for them."
In the meantime, he doesn't want to take himself too seriously.
"Basically, I have had more fun than I have had in any other job," he said.
His success, Kalvitis says, is puzzling.
"After all," he said, "They are just dot-to-dots."
Reprinted with permission from the Brighton-Pittsford Post