Monday, November 21, 2011
How Teaching Art Put A Ferrari In my Driveway
I created the image above in my media techniques class at UVU.
Ok, follow me on this one.
I was stagnating as an illustrator 5 years ago when I was living in a small town outside of Fresno California. I didn't know it but I was losing my passion and energy for children's book illustration and I wasn't evolving. If I didn't have a commission I wasn't drawing.
When we decided to move to Utah I was contacted by Perry Stewart, head of the illustration dept. at UVU, who asked me to teach (currently teaching for Don Seegmiller ). I accepted and jumped into my classes. I had no idea that I would soon have a brand new Ferrari in my driveway!
I soon found myself reading and researching the principles and techniques I was teaching. I started discovering new artists- devouring their work and making collections on my computer from which to teach.
I started this blog with the encouragement of Lael Henderson- a friend. I figured if nobody visited my blog I could at least use it to post things for my students.
I started going to visiting artist lectures at UVU and BYU a few miles away. It's amazing how exposure to accomplished dynamic creators can influence your thinking and the way you view your own work. I found myself wanting to improve my craft and began to realize that I had been stagnating in Cali.
I was invited to teach the illustration track at "Writing & Illustrating for young readers" an annual children's book conference out here. In class I mentioned that I wished I could render my style in Photoshop and one of the guys in my class (Jed Henry a recent graduate) told me he could show me how. A month later I finished my first Photoshop piece (below) even though I had to start over three times.
I started making speed painting videos and posting them on YouTube just for fun. One day a former student emailed me and basically said, "neat- but no educational value....why don't you make a tutorial?" I thought, " yeah, why not?" ...so now I have those as well.
Working in Photoshop was so much faster - I could produce more work in the same amount of time. When I learned about the possibility of producing my own ebooks I realized I could work them into my normal commission workload. Fast forward and my ebooks are earning a nifty amount of money....enough to put a Ferrari in my driveway? Not quite- but they could some day!...but I would never buy a Ferrari - not my style - couldn't even fit in it....I'll probably buy a beat up used truck.
Sorry for the bait & switch with the Ferrari but my point is that I've gotten way more value out of teaching than an exotic car could ever give. It's given me fulfillment, satisfaction, and re- tooled my process for the future. It makes me accountable in my own art. It forces me to revisit design principles regularly. It exposes me to new technology and methods and ways of thinking. Sure it puts food on the table but I get so much more than that. Probably the biggest thing I get is the satisfaction of helping others find the joy of turning their visions into realities. Helping someone have an "aha moment!"...you can't buy it.