Disclaimer: I have no training and I don’t have much prior experience with art. But that’s perfectly okay. A major theme of this website is to inspire others to try their best at whatever they want.
Imagination and Childhood
Which brings me to my artwork. As a kid, I would go visit my grandparents and spend about a month in Baie Comeau, Quebec. This unique experience of full immersion in the French language allowed me to become bilingual. It also pushed me to explore and use my imagination in order to keep myself entertained. This was before the days of the internet and my grandparents didn’t have cable. Additionally, there weren’t many children my age around.
One way I occupied my time was to play with the Legos I brought along. I was limited in how many I could bring, so I had to choose very carefully. This constraint led to some interesting space ships and narratives that I probably wouldn’t have come up with had I been at home with my full stash of Legos.
Appreciation for Nature and Landscapes
Another way I learned to entertain myself was by appreciating nature and landscapes. The sheer amount of beauty and (mostly) untouched wilderness in that part of the world is insane! My grandpa and my uncle really fostered that appreciation in me. My grandparents had a cabin on a cliff above the northern shore of the St. Lawrence river, which we would spend the majority of our vacation at.
If you don’t know, the St. Lawrence river is about 60 miles wide at this point, thus rendering it susceptible to the tides. During high tide, my grandpa and I would walk for miles until we caught up with the water. We would have to hurry up and turn around so we could beat the advancing water. Along the way I encountered several varieties of sea birds, red crabs, fish, clams and sometimes a few muskrats.
I’m not sure how to even explain it, but I felt small. But in a good way. Like I was part of something so much larger than myself. That feeling of seeing huge swaths of the earth that were untouched by human activity gave me hope. I promise this will tie in later.
This is something that I had in common with my grandma, who loved to paint scenery and landscapes. She may not have been a professional, but that hardly matters. Personally, I always appreciated her ability to capture such beauty in her paintings. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this became a huge inspiration for me and my artwork.
Finding a Creative Outlet
Unfortunately, I never learned how express myself artistically. And as I grew older, I stopped playing with Legos as much and never picked up a new creative outlet. I did take a Computer Desktop Publishing course in high school, which I enjoyed. I would even say that I got pretty good at a few of the Adobe programs. However, I never felt good enough to pursue a degree in graphic design. Eventually, I convinced myself that I just wasn’t the creative type and I focused my energy elsewhere.
That was until I met my wife. She was studying ceramics at Wichita State when I met her. I was immediately amazed at what she could create with her hands. She is super artistically talented and very creative. I think that she is super good at all forms of artistic expression (drawing, painting, sewing and ceramics, obviously). After we met, we hung out like every day and just couldn’t get enough of each other. Not long after, she introduced me to Minecraft, which is basically just video game Legos. We played an embarrassing amount of creative mode and built whatever we could conceive in our minds. She had reignited my creative spark.
Career and Skill Development
The last thing that fell into place for me was landing my career with LightSpeed VT Midwest. A big portion of my job and one that I enjoy very much is designing e-Learning platforms for various clients. I quickly picked up on how to use Photoshop, Illustrator and even After Effects. It was a slow start and I’ve still got tons to learn; but I’ve gotten to a point where I’m comfortable enough creating art.
After a big update to the system, my coworker and I decided to practice our design skills. Our goal was to create something aesthetically pleasing and unique, while pushing the system’s limits. We brainstormed and settled on an Art Deco poster theme. To find inspiration, he introduced me to National Park Posters and I discovered Vintage Travel Posters. Feeling inspired from the cool system theme we created, I began creating my own posters of Wichita. More recently, I’ve expanded to posters outside of Wichita. I’ve drawn inspiration from vacations, old childhood photos and random photos I occasionally stumble across on the internet. If you’d like to learn how to design your own, here’s a cool tutorial.
There you have it. My story as to why I started dabbling in Art and eventually began making digital art. Hopefully I didn’t bore you. Long story short, I developed a love of landscapes at an early age. My wife pushed me to find a creative outlet. And through my job, I developed the skills I needed in order to design Vintage Travel Posters. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.