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Artful journey

"Artful journey" Continued...

Issue: "Crackdown," July 18, 2009

And you studied with a French Academy artist? Jacob Collins. When I applied, I had to make drawings for him. I got rejected three times, and then finally got in. I had to be persistent, and I was. In the French Academy tradition, you first begin to work from the plaster cast-a marble statue. You only use black and white, no color, until you can convincingly describe how light moves across the surface of the form. You draw it, then you paint it. You also learn to develop accuracy in your proportions. Then you proceed to the live model. When I began to learn the subtlety of creating art at a higher level, I began to appreciate the body of knowledge that I was entering into. In the French Academy, you earn the right to move on to the next thing.

At that point could you ignore the business aspects of art? I had my master's degree [and] was invited to interview at Parsons The New School for Design. Teaching was a great experience, but I also wanted to be resourceful with my talents and have a career as a professional artist and designer as well. I was in a Kinko's in New York next to this woman who was printing out dish designs. I said, "Can you make any money at that?" She said, "Oh yes." So I told her I had a skilled hand and I'd love to throw my hat in the ring if she ever needed anyone to do some work, and she said, "We do need someone to do a commemorative cup and saucer for Avon."

Why am I not surprised that in your life one thing again led to another? I also did some work for greeting cards and made some small paintings of fruit that a company put on dishes that came out in Bed Bath & Beyond and Bloomingdale's. I made a chunk of cash. I was lecturing in Taiwan last year and one of the students had my dishes. I thought, "The dishes made it all the way to Taiwan!" Then I realized that they were made there, so it wasn't too much of a stretch.

Because I'm classically trained, all my friends said I was selling out and going commercial, and I said, "Isn't it great? I'm making money!" I've crafted a life together as a professional in licensing and publishing as well as being able to continue to paint fine art. I also love my teaching. There's nothing greater for an artist than to be able to say, "I'm really proud of who I am and what I've done." I have not always been able to say that, but I can say it today.

How unusual are you? One of the hopes I have is to share with young artists who have a dream for something that they only hope is possible, and let them know that if they're entrepreneurial and resourceful, opportunities will come their way, and if they're skilled they can make something of themselves. It's not a stretch; you just have to know someone in the flesh who's doing it so you know what it looks like. I'm trying to be as resourceful as I can with what God has given me.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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