How a broken TV led to my career as an illustrator
On a sunny day about 16 years ago my TV died. That seemingly small event turned out to be a life changing moment for me. A moment that would lead to me illustrating over 20 books, teaching college classes, and making a career out of illustration.
I didn’t have enough money to buy a new TV, so I had to think about how to fill my spare time. I thought about doing a series of photographs, but there was always something “weird” about the shots I wanted to do. A hazy idea of a character in the scene. The photographs never achieved what I had in my head. I had an inner “voice” pushing me to make certain kinds of images (this would later become my “style” I guess.)
So I thought I would do some paintings. I had never really drawn or painted anything before. I went to the local art store and bought the basic acrylic paints and cheap canvases like everyone starts with. And I painted. I did one, then two, and then a bunch. I did around 30 or so paintings within a month or two. Yes, they were ugly and raw as I had never taken a painting class before. But I enjoyed the process and people were responding to them.
So I decided to send the paintings to the Art Center College of Design. To my surprise, they gave me a scholarship! We packed up and moved to Pasadena CA. And now I was a full time art student. I thought to myself on the first day “ how in the heck did I get here?.” I was sitting next to some of the best artists in the country. People would talk about what art they liked or didn’t like or their techniques. I had none of this. I said “I don’t know” a lot during that period.
Four years later I graduated with honors in illustration and got my first book right out of school. When telling this story it might sound like it was easy, but I assure you it wasn’t. There were doubts and failures along the way. But overall it has been a really fun career and one that wouldn’t have been possible if that TV never broke.
Here’s a link to a project I’m working on now which showcases many personal images I have done over the past 5 years. I would appreciate it if you would support and/or share it.
@Lee-White Hope I helped a little more with sharing per your request:
Also, hope you don't mind that I took your images and made an ad out of them... here it is (though I guess you will see at my posts):
I just smashed my tv after reading this. ;-)
But in all seriousness, this really resognates with me, because I am easily distracted, and I tend to put things on the back burner. I can't wait to contribute to your kickstarter. Looking forward to you reaching your goal.
I love this personal story, Lee. Will check out your Kickstarter now.
Wow! What a way to find your calling!
Almost as if someone wanted you to try something new and whack! Here you are teaching your own classes!
Really really cool and inspirational story!
Thanks for sharing Lee, very inspiring!
@QuietYell Thanks so much! I appreciate it!
Thanks guys! I appreciate the support! : )
Great story! It makes me wonder, how much human potential goes untapped as people while away their lives in front of a television set?
@Lee-White inspiring story! You have been a wonderful addition to the SVS faculty. The words that stay uppermost in my mind when I think of SVS faculty, particularly applied to you, Will & Jake are "generous" and "honest". Thank you so much. I am looking forward to your productivity webinar. Fear of making bad art = NO art and this story is one more example of the concept that is so hard to implement--we must make bad art to learn how to make better art! I like Jake's "progress not perfection" too. Thanks to you all!