As I grew up, being a “creative child,” which was the description my school psychologist used to explain why I didn’t care for school or the usual subjects like math and why I wasn’t like the other children, my mother would get frustrated and call me “bull-headed, just like your great grandfather!” There was little hope for me being anything else but a pain-in-the-butt artist. It was, unfortunately, that incorrigible demeanor I had, either through genetics or experiences that would keep me from being an artist.
Talent for space, shapes and colors would never be enough until I learned to open my mind. Just having the talent to enthrall the other kids in my class, the “normal ones” who would gather around to watch me draw dinosaurs eating army tanks and superheroes ripping the head off our teacher and then point and tattle to that very same teacher that I was drawing naughty pictures — the very same kids who grew up to be Wall Street brokers, lawyers and politicians — would not be enough to make me an artist for my career. As I would find out years later, neither would art school. Not at first.
Things were different in high school. I was allowed to take elective courses and chose, of course, lots of art classes. I spent three of five days in my week with the same teacher, in the same room, just trying different things, using whatever material I could find, or sitting, copying the drawings of Jack Kirby, hoping one day to be a comic book artist like him. I actually got to meet the man and shoved my ripped out notebook pages with various sketches at him. “Yeah, very nice, kid!” he said with a big cigar clenched in his teeth. With that rave review, I continued on the same path until I stepped into art school.