Back in the early 1980’s, when I came home from a fingerprinting session at kindergarten, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. My grandfather told me, “That’s great Will, but artists don’t make much money”. From that day on I knew I was destined to be an artist. I didn’t care about money, art was deep in my soul.
It was August of 2014. I had just had my 38th birthday and the pressures of turning 40 were really starting to dig their heels into my psyche. The day to day life of staring at a computer screen were taking their toll on my heart, mind, and soul. Yes, I was using my creative juices, but not in the way I had envisioned back in preschool when introduced to fingerpaints, or when I was accepted into the visual arts program at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in high school, and certainly not when I walked to receive my B.F.A at San Francisco Art Institute in 1999.
After earning my B.F.A., I was fearful of what lied ahead. My formal education was great for technique, art history, and my own personal style. However, it left a lot to be desired in terms of how to “make it” as a fine artist in the real world. In college, no one taught us how to prepare a portfolio or even how to approach a gallery. Out of fear, I went into graphic design. I landed an entry level job laying out newsletters and promotional materials for my hometown Arts Council. I taught myself the standard graphic design programs and even a bit of website coding. I then moved on to working at print shops and eventually in marketing departments at a few companies.
While working these day jobs, I still made art when I could while applying to art shows and exhibits. The desire was there, but the dedication was skewed with the fear of not being able to survive. The years went on as I continued staring at a computer screen during the day, using most of my creativity for someone else. What time I did have to paint and make art was limited, but I kept at it. I sketched and painted whenever I could. I painted on my lunch break, in the evenings, and on the weekends. I would even bring my travel easel while on vacations with my family and escape to paint. Without a dedicated studio, I would paint wherever I could. In my kitchen, in my garage, and in the living room. My whole house was my studio.
Then, one evening while spending time with my future wife, I asked her what she thought of me running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to build my studio. She encouraged me to do it and I did. Much to my pleasure and surprise, I sold enough art through the campaign to build my first-ever artist’s studio. This was the success I needed to realize that it could be done. I could be an artist full-time. The next four years, I continued to work in the graphic design business so that my wife could attend school and earn her degree. The day she graduated and after 15 years in the graphic design business I made the decision to quit my desk job pushing pixels and to dedicate my life to my one true passion: painting.
My artistic style has explored many facets since I was a kid. Portraiture was always a favorite and through the years as my affinity with animals grew, my work gravitated towards animal portraiture. I did my first pet portrait back in 1999 and still take commissions to this day. There’s something about capturing the soul of the animal with layers of color and texture that is both a challenge and a pleasure.
Since dedicating my working day to making art, my work is now in both private and public collections in Athens, Atlanta, Raleigh, Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, China, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.
After roaming the southeast, setting up shop in Charleston, SC, Kings Mountain, NC and Nashville, TN, I now reside in Athens, GA with my wife, our son, and our many dogs and cats. Along with art, I also drums and plays guitar, volunteers in animal rescue and has an ongoing restoration of his beloved 1953 Buick.