Please allow me to tell you a little about myself…
I grew up in a small town in southern Minnesota. After school, I’d scurry to my dad’s art classroom. I’d sort through his shelves of supplies; feeling the tooth of the watercolor paper and noticing the slow fade of the once brightly colored construction sheets. I’d play on dad’s Macintosh Classic, making strange digital art that would print on continuous paper with tear-off edges. I’d feel squishy clay slip between my fingers as I attempted to sculpt vases or misshapen dishes that would inevitably collapse. Looking through Christmas cookie tins of various old buttons and well-worn boxes of rub-on letters could occupy many after school hours. None of the items in dad’s art room were new, but all were somehow magical.
In the evenings, my father would often bring work home to correct. He’d always make sure to present a lesson about the elements and principles of art while I helped him critique and grade students’ work. In elementary school, I couldn’t wait to be one of the “big kids” so I could have my work graded, too.
In middle school and high school, I spent my evenings and Saturdays with my mom painting scenery, attending play festivals, or participating in public speaking contests. When she cast roles for a show, my mom rarely handed me the lead role. Instead, I often found myself preparing for productions by drawing age lines around my eyes and mouth, or fitting “mom jeans” to my 16-year-old body. While perhaps not as glamorous as the part of the ingénue, I learned that with a character part, I could still make my mark. And, I had plenty of time to try on lost treasures in the costume department, which was important for an enterprising young thrift shopper such as myself.
You could say that I was a nerd to the nth degree… or that I’ve been preened for a life in the arts. Either way, I continue to go back to those days when an afternoon with mom or dad held the possibility of a masterpiece. I’m still excited and inspired by little things—the intricate pattern in a handmade sheet of wallpaper, the perfect texture and rhythm of the flecks in unbleached muslin, or the smell of ink carefully set by letterpress in an old book. And when encountered, they remind me that the desire to be an artist, designer, and creative raconteur is nothing new. It’s genetic.