Friday, December 23, 2005

The Long Road Out

Let me start by welcoming any visitors to my brand new blog site! This site was created as part of a plan I have decided to put in place for 2006. I am planning a 12 month journey toward becoming a full time illustrator, and one of the first logical things to do was to quit hoping that somehow I would magically be discovered by the powers that be. It is high time to start showing the world my artwork and kick myself in the butt a lot more often to acheive a lifelong dream.

I'm sure that there are plenty of other artists/illustrators out there that know the frustrations that can come with trying to make a living as an artist. In my case, I have ended up working for a company that develops software, more specifically software that is used to design and layout newspapers. The company is definitely one of the powerhouses in their niche, and I actually enjoy the people that I work with, and the work really isn't all that bad. The biggest problem that I have is that gnawing feeling deep in my heart that I am wasting my God given talent as an artist. There is not a day that goes by that I am not thinking about how much I would rather be drawing or painting or doing anything more creative. It is not fair to continue to pretend that I will be satisfied with the quality of my life if I stay on the same career path that I have been following.

So the obvious question that arises when you hear my story is: why are you working at a software company if your true desire is to be an illustrator? I wish I could give you a good solid answer to that, but the answer is something that again I am sure many other "should be artists" have had to deal with, and that is losing focus of your dream by allowing necessity to dicatate your career choice.

When I reflect back on my life, there are times when I think it would have been great if I could have taken the art world by storm back when I was single and my financial life was less complicated. Of course, I was not the artist then that I am now, and it has never been an easy task to find good paying jobs in my home state of Utah in the artistic field. My career path started on the right foot- I started working as an illustrator/designer for a screen printing company, back before computers had become an integral tool for artists. Type setting consisted of rub down lettering, and we were using a vertical camera to create finished art. It was the tail end of what I think of as the "dark ages" of a creative process. Toward the end of my time at the screenprinting company, I fell in love with the girl that would eventually become my wife. My future father-in-law turned out to be a very talented fine artist himself, and he directed me to the offices of a software firm called WordPerfect. As I mentioned a minute ago, I knew nothing about computers at that time, so I had very little hope inside of getting hired, as my portfolio consisted soley of my traditional artwork. Someone must have been impressed enough by my artwork to think I would fit in at WordPerfect, and I was soon on my way to becoming a computer based designer.

I spent almost 3 years as an "International Production Designer" at WordPerfect. Do you remember those goofy little plastic templates that you had to unfold and put on your keyboard? I was responsible for the design and layout of most of those, although the majority of the ones I designed were in Japanese and other foreign languages, thus the "international" portion of my title. So I give WordPerfect credit for teaching me the computer. Good or bad, I am not sure- but I left WordPerfect with the ability to design on the computer, added to my abilities as a traditional artist.

Around that time, the computer based art world really started booming. I spent a long string of time working for a number of local companies, doing whatever I could to make a living. I worked as a designer for an up and coming 3D special FX company called ViewPoint Datalabs. I was not terribly interested in becoming a 3D artist, and thus I worked as a designer, laying out the company catalogs and other print media. Approximately 7 years later, I ended up in a position at a local newspaper called The Utah County Journal as their "Creative Sevices Manager". At that point in time, I was very well versed as a graphic designer in addition to my talent as a traditional artist. I was able to utilize my drawing skills every now and then in creating advertisements for local companies, but the bulk of the work was computer based layout and design. I spent about 5 years in that position when the owners announced they were going to shut down the paper. The sister company to the newspaper is the software company I mentioned at the beginning of my long winded story, and due to the fact that I had become the resident "expert" at the advertising side of this software, they asked me if I would be interested in taking a job on the Quality Assurance team, rather than taking a severance package and hitting the road once again. Having grown very weary of being layed off and seeking a new job, I decided I would take the job on the QA team, in hopes that as the advertising design expert I would be able to utilize my creativity in some way.

Which brings us to the present... December 23, 2005. I have been working on the QA team for almost 5 years now, marking almost 10 years at the same company. Stability is a good thing. Lack of creativity is not. The QA position has been a valuable tool for learning a number of things, perhaps the best of which is the fact that I have been able to have a very in depth relationship with Adobe InDesign. The company I work for is partners with Adobe, and as such I have worked closely with Adobe's team, including spending time at Adobe's headquarters in Seattle, Washington. I have also been able to travel all over the United States to work as an implementor and trainer at various newspapers that utilize our software. I have had no choice but to be an expert in Adobe InDesign, as I am called upon to teach it and train it to others.

That gnawing feeling in my heart has been coming on very strongly again. It's time for a change. Thats why I'm writing this- that's why I created this blog. As I mentioned earlier, I have concocted a plan for this oncoming new year of 2006 to become an illustrator. To become who I really am, and to persue what it is that really makes me happy: creativity. If you spent the time to read my little novella, I thank you. I certainly welcome any comments and or suggestions, and I will do my best to explain to you my plan and my progress. I am new to the whole Blog thing, and I will get some of my artwork posted on here soon so you can give my your input.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season

Here's to an adventurous and art filled 2006!


garth bruner said...

Hey Patrick!

Good for you!! It's a very satisfying road, but yes, you have to draw 30% of the time, and market 70% of the time. Blogging's great because it gives you a way to easily and quickly show your work, and I can't wait to see some new stuff! (I've seen most of your older stuff).

I'm gonna add your link to my blog, if that's ok... ;)

I'll talk to you soon!


Patrick said...

Thanks Garth!

I will add your link to my blog as well! Here's to a productive 2006!

RYGUY66 said...

Hey Buddy! Cool blog site! Glad you're persuing your goal! Keep up the hard work! it'll pay off!
I think you should email / contact bands about doing an album cover!
that would be way cool!

Later! -Ry-

Lavanimal said...


You positiveliy kick ass!
Ever since the day we met as missionaries back in Argentina in February 1987, I have had no doubt that you are among the most talented artists ever to walk the face of the earth!
And don't ever let anyone convince you to stop drawing monsters.

- Ilyan Kei Lavanway (Lavanimal)

Anonymous said...

The grass always seems greener. I too worked for Viewpoint briefly in 1997 only to be laid off. Since then I have had better and I have had worse. Suffice to say I now work as a manager at a convenience store and also work doing security. I have done many, MANY things since Viewpoint. Let me just say that I would KILL to be where you are right now. So just keep in mind. The grass is always greener. Althought this blog is like 3 years old I do hope you see this!