mgmelkat7 hours ago7 hours ago
Did you ever become the artist you wanted? Would love to see what you created!
My first actual job as an "artist" was in a large company called TRIANGLE ART. It was, more or less, a factory of sorts. I was hired as one of a group of 10 artists whose job was to reproduce multiple copies of wall paintings. These paintings were designed by two fellows who went on to become my best friends.
I had never painted anything before in my life!
(Unless you count fingerpainting in the first-grade elementary school.)
My chief talent in art stemmed from an uncanny natural ability to draw hyper-realistic portraits of human faces.
I could say a lot about this, but I won't bore you.
My drawings seemed to impress people. To this day, I cannot understand why this is so.
Imagine you are a Dentist hired to perform an appendectomy and you'll understand my situation.
My one natural gift was "non-transferable" to painting! Yet, on the strength of my interview and "chemistry" with the two head designers--I was hired.
I did a Google search and found an image which pretty much nails what we were asked to do.
The idea was this.
A landscape, for instance, was created by the lead designers and approved
by the salesmen as something they thought they could sell.
These designers then "broke it down" into stages, creating
intermediate canvases even a moron (like me) could copy.
Was it really Art?
Ha ha ha ha ha. Don't be silly.
These WERE paintings and the art was eventually framed and sold.
People DID buy them
But was it Art?
Ha ha ha ha.
A "Certificate of Authenticity" was created verifying some wholly invented
nonsense about the non-existing Artist. "Anton Chichikov, master painter
from Ukraine, escaped the iron curtain of Communism during Premiere
Khrushev's regime and fled to France where he adapted his vision of
beautiful blah-blah-blah into this remarkable piece of blah-blah..."
Within about a month, I approached the owner of the company with some ideas
for how to improve working conditions and pay for the artists.
I proposed an INCENTIVE SYSTEM.
The owner, Richard Friedman, a Hungarian Jewish fellow who wore his shirt
open exposing the plethora of white hair on his chest and his bright gold chain,
approved the idea and promoted me to the foreman position.
This unexpected outcome meant I no longer had to paint schlock!
Why am I telling you this?
I am a writer now--why wouldn't I turn it into part of my life story? :)
From that promotion forward, (are you ready for it?) I never really had to
create any original art of my own for the rest of my art career!
In fact, the lead designer R.S. Riddick was about to launch his own etching
business and he stole me as his own employee.
My whole life changed!
I moved from Cucamonga, California (at the foot of Mt. Baldy) to Redondo Beach
in South Bay.
I was trained to mix colored ink, apply the ink to etching plates, prepare the
rag paper in a bath of water, and to soak and dry it--then, lay the plates on
a thick blanket surface in a large motorized roller press and--PRESTO!
Pulling back the blanket, and peeling off the paper, the freshly minted etching
appeared. After it dried, we often hand-painted watercolor areas, or added
a poem I would write. Finally, Art galleries all over the U.S. ordered these
original, limited edition etchings from our traveling sales force.
As a Jehovah's Witness who had only worked horrible jobs cleaning toilets, building mobile
homes, and painting houses--I was in heaven working in an actual Atelier
in the incredible paradise of California.
From that position as Master Inker and Pressman, I became the de facto C.E.O.
of R.N.R. Graphics, when the Artist himself moved on.
I hired more artists to replace him and changed the direction of the company.
From there, I went to work as an Art Consultant and salesperson in Beverly Hills at
Billy Hork Galleries.
Most of my stories involving Hollywood celebrities began about that time.
From then onward, I learned Custom Framing techniques and hired on at
Creative Galleries about a mile from MGM Studios.
What a fantastic experience!
I made friends with set decorators for TV and movies
and consulted on Art installations for all corporate hangings.
The moral of this tale?
I NEVER REALLY USED my artistic gift per se.
Amazing and ironic? I think so.
The only piece of original art I own which I created, is my very first drawing
from 1965 when I discovered (and was discovered) my portrait talent.
From that first High School era drawing, I did contract work in Fort Worth.
I charged whatever I thought I could get--which wasn't much.
My longing to use this one tiny talent just about ate me up until I moved
away from the drudgery of janitorial labor and Jehovah's Witness bondage.
I took this iPhone shot of that one piece. It is hanging on my wall.
It is Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia
For "Good Luck" I have used this drawing on the cover of both of my books