This idea has been forming for a long time. When I was coming up through the ranks of the Wannabes, I worked as an assistant to an animator, and worked at various advertising agencies and old paste up rooms. In those days, all the biggest illustrators, artists, and cartoonists had assistants, and we all dreamed of someday being able to just sweep the floors at these offices, and eavesdrop to get any kind of advice, or "leg up". We'd take our drawings to signings, hoping the cartoonist would give us advice. ANYTHING. I remember taking a job sweeping the floors and making cold telephone sales calls at the old Hartford Times newspaper office, just so I could meet Ed Valtman, their Pulitzer Winning Editorial Cartoonist! I met him and he told me to empty his wastebasket. I learned a lot just from looking at the drawings he threw away! THEN, when I got to show him some of my stuff... he was very helpful and kind with his advice. He STILL made me empty his trash, though.
Up and Coming Cartoonists, I hope, still do those things, and try for those opportunities at the Comic Cons now, and at Book signings. Much information can be gleaned in so many different ways. But, finding a way to put their talents to work, to get on the spot professional advice, and get contacts, is still the toughest part of the equation.
The students whom I choose to work with, through review of their work, and personal interviews to determine their character, and desire, will work right along side us in our studio, which is attached to our Academy. While we are working on drawing, writing, inking, coloring and producing all my syndicated features and freelance contracts, the students will practice all these skills. They will create their own calendars with their own goals and projects to help reach these goals. They will live and learn in a professional artist's atmosphere, just like the old "Comic Bullpens" of the past, where the masters showed the Newbies how it was done!
I feel like this idea is the logical next step of my DRAWN TO SUCCESS advice. REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE. It's what I yearned for... It's what I wanted more than anything! So... maybe I can help someone else out that feels the same way.
Howard Pyle, the great Illustrator, used to invite several promising students (whom had impressed him with their artwork, drive and desire) to come work with him and learn from him in his studio for several months each year. They worked along side Pyle, and did as he did. They then worked on their own projects using the techniques they had learned. They had meaningful lunchtime chats with their teacher about art and the business of art, and met their Teacher's colleagues and learned informally from their visits as well. The students got the chance to learn and experience life in a creative, working studio, and got to live their dream. They then went home to their lives, changed... and more prepared for their own journey... their own dreams... their own triumphs.
I will offer my studio, my knowledge, my skills, and my assistance, along with the help of my assistant on Nancy and my other features, Scott Lincoln, to several students a year, in the same way.
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