I remember being four years old and drawing a face on a chalkboard, and I remember it filling up the whole space. I remember being at home with my family – and when I was done, I ran away crying. They asked me, “What’s the matter?” I answered, “My drawing is scary!”
To me, my drawing looked like a monster: big eyes, a gaping mouth, big teeth. I scared myself.
I would find myself many years later sitting in lecture as a young college art student, maybe a little bored and distracted, drawing my classmates. I started to develop a style the more I drew, something between a portrait and a caricature: I strived to capture a person’s likeness using quick, bold lines. Sometimes people knew I was drawing them, but most of the time they didn't. And one day I decided to gift one of my doodles to an unsuspecting subject. In return, they rewarded me with a hot meal and a cold drink as a token of their appreciation. What started as a fun hobby turned into my first paying gig as a young professional.
From then on, I took every chance I could get to draw my friends. And if I was lucky, their friends too. I would eventually be referred to gigs where I drew from photo references, as gifts for birthday celebrants or to mark something like an anniversary, a grand opening, or other milestone. I’d also end up getting the chance to do editorial cartoons for student newspapers and flyers. As a young artist, what really surprised me was when I started doing caricatures at public events: I saw people willing to wait in line to see themselves drawn. I observed that it was just as exciting for onlookers to witness the whole process from start to finish, like a spectator sport, like the fascination that one might have when they watch a baker kneading dough through a window. I got the sense that my little setup evoked the same feeling. I could feel people looking over my shoulder, curious, as I sat in my chair and drew. It felt like good pressure, like an adrenaline rush. I’d think to myself, “I better do a good job.”
There were many contemporary talents and experiences that fueled my passion to keep broadening my palette as a visual artist. And through the years, I have continued to either make art or teach art. But for some reason, out of all the things I've had the chance to be a part of, work on, or collaborate with, guess what people remember me for the most? - drawing faces.
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