The story I like to tell is that a week after I graduated college, I came back to Fountain Valley School for Reunion Weekend, and they gave me a job.
It was the middle of a recession and it seemed like a no-brainer to come back to my school for a year to work in the admission office while I started paying off student debt and I figured out how I was going use my Environmental Science and Creative Writing degrees. And, Admissions was the perfect first job. I got to travel, learn, coach, plan events, and award scholarships. Meanwhile, I made art. Art had always been a background character in my narrative and I would challenge myself to do 30-day drawing projects and The Brooklyn Art Library's traveling Sketchbook Project. I began to make intricate collages and delicate ceramic fish. I would do this for a few years while I figured out the next steps.
But this place has a way of getting it's hooks in me, and when the Studio Art position opened up for the first time in 30 years, I was ready for a new challenge. Those first teaching years, I was more student than teacher, so I had to hustle to reverse engineer an art degree, and I learned new techniques alongside my students. My skills grew, and I found myself doing my best imitation of my mentors. Over the past 9 years, this school has sent me to Iceland and Italy, I've instructed artists at the foot of Mt. Princeton, and swam Alcatraz three times. Additionally, Fountain Valley supported me in pursuing mentorships with professional illustrators and I started to find my voice. I never stopped being a student, even after more than a decade on payroll.
So it was bittersweet when I finally made the decision to resign from the Dream Job and search for the next classroom. 12 years of incredible growth and challenge have left me in need of a reset, and I don't know what is next. Maybe more of the same, maybe something totally different... but I'll wander for a year, and maybe I will find out.
If you are reading this, you are likely part of the group of family and friends upon whose hospitality I am likely to trespass. In advance, I love you all, and thank you!
The day-to-days of an Itinerant Illustrator