Like many artists, when asked about my creative background I usually start by saying something like, “I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember.” However, was this always what I wanted to do? How did I actually get started down this path?
As far as I can remember I was never one of those kids that wanted to be a fireman or a doctor. As a child of the ’80s I fell in love with all the great cartoons and comics of the time. They really helped introduce me to a variety of imaginative worlds. When I was very young I remember asking my father to draw characters for me and I was so amazed at watching him draw. My father wasn’t an artist, but he did well enough that I would ask him to draw many things. This lead me to try and draw on my own.
During grade school my friends and I were all big fans of Transformers. We would spend our lunch break drawing our own Transformers. I built up a whole collection of images. Drawing big robots actually helped me learn about perspective, especially when I tried to draw them so they looked tall and towering.
I didn’t stop there, though. So enthralled to create my own robots I actually made my own out of poster board, in full three dimension, even with the ability to transform. I was creating my own “paper craft” without even knowing that was a thing.
During my years in middle school I was exposed to many new creative avenues. I think this time was the most pivotal for me. Around this time I was very much into superhero comic books. My free time was often spent drawing new characters and coming up with my own superheroes. A friend of mine actually paid me to draw him superhero images. These were my first commissions. Soon I found myself being approached by a variety of girls in the school asking for a portrait sketch from their own class photos. Imagine my eagerness to please my new clients.
Around this time I had a crush on a little mermaid, which spurred a great interest in animation. I started to read books about animation and its history and dreamt up my own animated cartoons.
But most importantly, also around this time, my father was working for a local TV station, which was eventually sold to another network. During the transition he had the station mostly to himself. I spent a lot of time there learning and playing with all the expensive equipment. We even had some fun making our own skits à la SNL. It wasn’t all fun and games. He had to produce local commercials and I would often help him out. Our home always had a bevy of electronics since my father was a technician by trade, so I was no stranger to camcorders and the like.
My experience at the TV station lead me to one piece of equipment that I believe greatly changed the course of my future. It was a little known computer called the Amiga. At the station it was used to create a variety of graphics—usually titles. I spent a lot of time playing with that machine, especially in my first paint program, Deluxe Paint. With this I created my first digital images and even animations. Some of my animations were even used in commercials my father produced.
By the time I started high school I had a fair amount of experience under my belt with drawing and computer graphics, but I didn’t stop there. I took classes in photography, print, art, and video production. I even tired my hand in airbrushing on the side. Image Comics was an obsession of mine around this time and my desire to draw comics was stronger than ever. I even teamed up with a friend to draw our own as a team, much to the disdain of our art teacher.
Windows-based computers were becoming much more powerful around this time and the internet was starting to take shape. I was beginning to learn 3D graphics with Imagine 3D at home and in school I was learning Photoshop on our Macintosh computers—coloring in my comic drawings.
Our high school had a pretty extensive video production class. We made our own morning news show for the whole school. There they had a little marvel of a computer called the Video Toaster by Newtek, which just happened to be bundled with a 3D animation program called Lightwave. No one in the class knew how to use it, not even the teachers. I spent many hours after school hunkered over the large manual learning the program on my own. I was eventually producing 3D animated titles for the variety of shows we produced for the school. It was a really exciting time for me.
By the mid 90’s Toy Story had hit the theaters, anime was exploding on US TV, and Netscape was the browser of choice. My love of 3D had kept growing and Pixar certainly helped motivate me even more. Lightwave became a standalone program and I was eager to use it on my personal computer at home. I was working in several creative odd jobs as well, such as a local print TV guide and a clothing embroidery shop. With the fast-paced growth of the internet I became intrigued to create my own website. I printed out a large “how-to” for coding your own website in HTML and got to work with a text editor and a paint program.
I found myself working in web design not long after. At the time web designers were in short supply, so work was easy to come by in my local town.
By the end of high school I was looking at various colleges. My life up to that point was filled with creative endeavors. It was clear that I needed a school that catered to that. I was set on becoming a creative professional. I eventually attended Full Sail University in Florida. I went to Full Sail mainly to start a career in 3D animation. Unfortunately, that never came to pass.
When I graduated with my associates it was much easier to find work for web design than break into 3D animation. And that is what I ended up doing for many years. That didn’t stop me from continuing to create my characters and stories in my free time. After work I would spend time developing new stories, which lead me to create a couple online comics for a few years.
The rest is pretty much history. I had found my love of creating characters and worlds from a pretty young age. Growing up in the ’80s with amazing cartoons and comics certainly seemed to help enchant my creative young mind to learn to draw. My early exposure to computer graphics and later 3D and web design seemed to really help me hit my creative stride to where I am today.
What will happen next? Hopefully this fresh new site will help answer that. It has been several years since my last personal creative project. There are still many characters and worlds I’d like to explore and share. Hopefully I can finally get some of them off the ground. Who knows were it may lead.
To be continued.