I was born and raised in a blue-collar neighborhood
in Philadelphia, PA. I lived in a conservative household, answering to
parents who viewed a college education
as key to gaining access to a secure life and 'art' was viewed as a weekend
hobby. I viewed the world differently and as a young person I believed a career
in the arts as boundless and exciting. Throughout my K-12 studies, I
somewhat underachieved academically and I was not much of an athlete.
Yet, I always excelled at drawing and painting and my art skills gave
me credibility throughout my first twelve years of school.
My formal college
education began at Bucks County Community College, Newtown, PA. At
"Bucks" I took a diverse selection of art courses
eventually decided to study commercial art. After two years of study
at "Bucks", I studied, on a partial scholarship at Philadelphia College
of Art (now The University of the Arts.) Initially,
on becoming an illustrator, likely pursuing a career as an artist
for books and magazines. In the summer of 1984, I worked as an assistant
a local commercial design firm and I quickly became disinterested in
commercial art because I struggled with taking orders from people who
nothing about art and yet these "art Neanderthals" forced me to create
art based on their uninspiring ideas. In the fall of 1984, I switched
I wanted to become a painter.
with honors and awards from Philadelphia College of Art in 1987 and
the day after graduation my lifelong neighborhood pal got
job at a local firm in town. I viewed this menial job a temporary
detour on the road towards my eventual success . I painted during the
day and worked at night. Eventually,
my paintings were exhibited in shows in Philadelphia galleries,
gaining favorable reviews and occasionally making a sale. Still, factory
caused me to become disillusioned and frustrated. Consequently, I opted
to crawl into the secure womb of graduate school and avoid reality for
two years. I received a full scholarship to study painting, in an MFA
program, at The University of Delaware in the fall of 1988.
At the University of Delaware, I lived like a starving artist-
odd hours of drawing and painting, numerous philosophical conversations
about being a modern artist and drinking extra strong black coffee. At the start of my second year
to study in England and proceeded to enjoy the blissful experience of
living and the culinary infliction of British food. I left The University
of Delaware with a Master of Fine Arts Degree (in drawing and painting),
two thousand dollars in my bank account and the typical dreams of a young
and untested artist. Aside from an adjunct art instructor position
at Bucks County Community College, I once again ventured
into paying my bills via odd jobs and factory work.
In 1990, uninsured, underpaid and unfulfilled, I earned a full scholarship
into the Master of Art Education Program at Temple University, Philadelphia,
PA. I completed my obligatory 21 certification credits, did my student
teaching and earned PA and NJ Art Teacher Certification, K-12, but I
never completed my M.Ed. degree. I left the program because I had recently
and I wanted to "provide" for my beautiful, young bride. I
needed to locate a full time job.
In 1992, my first teaching experience was at a school for emotionally
disturbed and neurologically impaired students in Cherry Hill, NJ. I
was not prepared
to deal with the demands of a pseudo-art therapy position and left after
one year to take a position as an art teacher at West Morris Mendham
High School, Mendham. NJ. My first year went extremely well and I decided to sell my home in Philadelphia
and relocate to North Jersey. Unfortunately, during my second year, having
recently sold my home, I was called into my supervisor's office and I
was told that due to cutbacks, I was going to be laid off. This was the
of a series of art education positions that I held through much of the
1990's. I became an 'artistic rogue' selling my services to various public
schools throughout New Jersey, constantly subjecting my art education
position to the whim of cutbacks, always enduring the ramifications of
budget that was voted down by the community.
At this point, frustrated and somewhat bitter, I decided to reinvent
myself. Having relocated to South Jersey and teaching as an adjunct drawing
at Stockton College, I needed to diversify my art and creative abilities.
In 1996 I purchased my friend's Apple computer and I proceeded
to install bootleg versions of PhotoShop, Illustrator and Quark XPress
onto the harddrive. Within a year, I was teaching
an introductory level graphic design course at Rowan University as
well as teaching at Montgomery High School,
NJ (I was hired as a one-year replacement instructor) and at Stockton
College. In addition, I was sporadically working as a freelance designer
design firms and photographers in South Jersey and Philadelphia.
By 1999 I received a number of job offers as an art/graphics instructor
at numerous high schools throughout New Jersey. However, I was convinced that my
abilities would be better served as a college instructor. For that reason,
I hastily declined a position at a high school near Princeton, NJ and
decided to take a position at Centenary College. In the twelve years I
at the college, I have continued to pursue painting as well
as graphic design. In addition, I have no also added web design and Flash animation onto
my formal list of abilities.
In retrospect, the best way
to remain a 'working artist' is to learn art skills that go beyond traditional
Drawing and painting skills
transcend into ALL visual art mediums. The best fine artists make the
best digital artists.