For me, art was always fun. I was the kid in the corner, observing and changing my classmates into the things of my imagination. I had good friends in school, but they lived at least half an hour away, which was too far to ask car-less friends to walk.
So the bus would drop me at my rural home across from the state mental hospital, where its ‘visitors’ coming over to ask for the Pope was a regular occurrence. I would bound up my driveway and plop down in my room with my sketchbook, where the brilliant colors of rock star posters on my walls and the sounds of radio inspired the portraits I made. I would sell some of those works at school for fifty cents to kids infatuated with The Beatles or Prince or someone from General Hospital. My teen idol art empire served two purposes: getting ice cream money, and gaining a sense of popularity for my six-foot, awkward self.
Reality showed its scary face in twelfth grade, demanding I choose a profession and a college to learn how to do it. The only ‘art’ job I knew was architecture because I had seen architects sitting at art tables in my dad’s office. But the last thing I wanted to do was make anything requiring straight lines.
I wanted to create characters with spots and blue skin and hairy foreheads chasing children into fantastical settings. I wanted to make metallic wasps with armor, and beautiful women and heroic men. Most of all, I wanted to create stories for these characters to inhabit so people stayed on the edge of their seats, kept reading and didn’t get up to do something else. So I did the only thing I knew to do: I went to art school in the city, where I could learn to draw and figure the rest out later.
Four years later I graduated having learned how to draw the human figure, knowing the best place in Philadelphia to get cheesesteak (Jim’s, of course), and realizing that seemingly five minutes after I got my diploma, the whole world had gone computer. I also realized that if I wanted to survive, I had better learn the latter.
Years later, continuing in the joy of creating art and books that inspire people, I have to admit that this story hasn’t ended yet. I know I have a purpose from our Creator, to make art and encourage others to pursue their purpose as well. I believe that we were all created to be our best versions of ourselves and to glorify God.