When I was sixteen (seventeen?) I was invited to take part in a portfolio review day at the California College of Arts and Crafts. To say that I was excited would be an understatement. With the tireless help of my high school art teacher, Mrs. Alsobrook, I assembled a portfolio — okay, let’s be honest, it was a photo album of 4″x6″ pictures of some of the paintings I had done — and gathered the better of my sketchbooks. With wares in hand I prepared to trundle off to the big city and make my way into art school. I even took my friends Irene and Kevin along for moral support. (Read: I was scared out of my wits.)
The moment I walked into the main hall of the San Francisco campus I was devastated. All around me were very professional looking adults with large (very large) portfolios of good (very good) work and here I was, a teenager with a photo album purchased at the local Michaels Arts and Crafts store tucked under my arm. I almost turned around and walked out. I was fully prepared to throw in the towel and go home; it wouldn’t be until years later that I would realize this was a pivotal moment in my life. Had I walked out I’d be an entirely different person than I am today. I don’t know who that guy would have been, but I know that it wouldn’t have been the person that I am now — and I’m rather fond of the person that I am now. The point is, if it weren’t for the insistence of my friends Irene and Kevin to see it through to the end, I wouldn’t have gone to art school. This is a fact.
As it turns out, the portfolio review day was for potential graduate students. Through some mishap in administration I was the only undergrad invited to this event, which is why I was thoroughly outclassed. That day I met Ms. Sizemore — a woman who would not only prove instrumental in my acceptance to art school (there was something about the work that I showed that she fell in love with), but would keep tabs on me throughout my academic career and lend encouragement when I needed it. All in all it was the love and support of four people who would change my life for the better. I hope you won’t take this as hyperbole, but I wouldn’t be who I am now if it weren’t for them.
This past weekend was another pivotal moment in my life as an artist: my first time tabling as an artist at a convention. I never for a moment suspected that I would make my fortune the first time out, but I also know that I didn’t achieve the success that I did without help. A lot of help. I don’t know that I ever thanked Mrs. Alsobrook, Irene, Kevin, or Ms. Sizemore properly, but I don’t want to miss that opportunity again. I would like to thank the following individuals for their efforts in helping me not only survive, but thrive in my artistic endeavors. I know that I couldn’t do what I do without them. So, in no particular order:
My mother: for your unconditional and completely unwavering support in all that I do, no matter how unfeasible or irrational it might be. I have a lot of eccentric ideas and I appreciate that you never shoot any of them down outright. Thank you.
Ben: for believing I’m better than I am. You’re constantly suggesting things with just the right level of complication to hook my interest and I suspect you know how complicated they can be; it means the world to me that you believe in me enough to know that I’ll be able to pull them off.
Abigail: for pushing me and fighting with me to take the plunge and start running the convention circuit. I know I can be my own worst enemy and it means the world to me that you get in my own way for the sake of stopping that fight. It also doesn’t hurt that you ask what I’m getting up to and get thoroughly excited when I answer.
Jenna: for the long discussions on art and life that you trick me into leaving the house for. I can very easily get in my own way and I love that you talked me out of the house and further lured me out of my own head. It’s important to take breaks and I’m glad that you’re smarter than I am and convinced me to take them.
Matthew: for having a wonderfully untrained eye. I spend so much time hunched over my work that I forget sometimes that what I do has to appeal to the uninitiated. I may give you a lot of flak for not being a huge nerd, but it’s important and it helped keep me even. Also, thank you for helping keep the bad days tolerable.
Maya: for being a huge nerd. And, you know, for geeking out with me and getting excited, but not flamboyant over the work that I was doing. I trust you’d never let me go astray.
Lucy: for reinitiating me into the world of comics and comic artists. I spend a lot of time talking to fine artists and illustrators, so it’s great to talk to people who are dedicated but don’t take it so seriously. I can’t wait to see what mischief we’ll get up to.
Jake: for getting it. You know what I mean; for just getting it.
Brittain: for sharing a truth with me that was so simple and so pure that it couldn’t possibly be ignored. Your loving words did more good than you could possibly know in saving me from myself at a critical moment.
Jory: for insisting that I take a break when that’s the very last thing I wanted to do. Two days before the con, with so much work left to do, it was important that I take a moment to step back and relax. Without your prodding I wouldn’t have taken a break and would likely have caused myself serious harm.
I don’t mean to say that these are the only people worth thanking, but these are the people that did the most (and all of the small stuff), in helping me prepare on every level to walk into the Rose City ComicCon and not feel like that sixteen year-old kid. No man is an island and nothing happens in a vacuum. I couldn’t possibly do what I do without them; I just hope they know it. They all took on the burden of me and mostly saved me from myself. Without their love and support I wouldn’t have been able to face this pivotal moment in my life.
Thank you, one and all.