I don’t mean to say all of these were glorious masterpieces (trust me, they weren’t), but I worked hard at it, and I would practice drawing whatever I could. There are sketchbooks (that I can’t get anywhere near) labelled by year, and there are typically at least two for every year since around 4. I drew in church, at family gatherings, and in the car (when I wasn’t sleeping… I had “car narcolepsy” as my dad referred to it as, in which until about age 10, I could be in the car for anywhere from 10-15 minutes before I would just fall asleep. Thank God that isn’t how it works when I’m driving). These sketchbooks are literally filled with some of the lamest drawings of my childhood pastor, my old cats dressed in outfits (emily, you’d love these), and a ton of other stuff. I didn’t come out of the womb ready to have a draw-off with the likes of Leonardo (DaVinci, not DiCaprio… can the latter draw? Whatever), but I did take a lot of pride in trying to learn how to triumph in case that day ever came (joking… but I was super serious about drawing).
Anyways, not to sound like a complete bdb (big douche bag), but I won a lot of stuff in high school, got scholarships for college, and got an endless parade of my mother wanting to have everything under the sun framed til all my relatives had something hanging in their kitchens (I wish I was kidding, trust me). And I just sort of wish I had the same dedication.
One of my professors in college, Dayton, knew sort of “what I was”. I mean, another professor sort of thought anything I BS’d my way onto the critique wall was pure gold. And surprisingly, that gets old real fast. And according to some of my art major friends, it’s embarrassing that an elephant can draw better than any of them. So when I was in Dayton‘s class for the first time, I was feeling okay about it. I mean, I had heard horror stories from some slacker seniors about what a bdb he was, and some from my friends about making them cry during critique. But I kind of just assumed it was because the seniors were slackers, and because it was an intro class and he was trying to make my two friends better (this sort of reverse psychology was common in the classes I took at the Art Institute when they knew you were just skating around being good when you could be “great” and I totally think he saw that in them two, because now they are incredible at what they respectively do). Plus the class was full of graphic designers, so I knew I was going to be the best (just kidding, emily!)
Well anyways, it was during one of my initial projects where I was drawing that the first professor who thought everything was gold and sunshine told me my drawings “Looked great!” Dayton apparently had another opinion. Our first critique (that wasn’t even a “finished projects required” kind of critique, mind you) for that class lasted over 6 hours to get through five students. And one of them cried. It was terrible, but I wrote down the gist of everything he said and used a lot of it later on in the class. But I’m also trying to apply it again to my art-life. I don’t practice my craft as much as I should, or even as much as I want to, and there’s really no excuse for that. He said a lot of things to me that Josh Ippel had kind of said about not letting yourself get in the way of just (and I quote) “making shit!” (crazy arm flailing gesture)
And with this new project with the ampersands I’m happy I get to basically draw everyday (these drawings actually take longer for me sometimes than even my portrait drawing does… because getting proportions right on a specific font SUCKS) But I’ve been trying to push myself to draw more technical drawings as well so I can keep my skills, and earn the right to really say “Fuck this” in my professional art life if I really don’t want to stick to the photo-realism style. Plus, Karl Gesch seems to think he could draw better than me. And even though he’s pretty good, like hell if I’m gonna let him lord that shit over me like he can with his woodworking abilities. That’s right, I said it.