When I was a kid, I made cash here and there as an illustrator. My dad tried to hock my skills to a local business man who scoffed at the price tag, after the work was done for his corporate identity. Part of this was my dad's fault for not negotiating the price before the work was started. It was a great business experience for me, teaching me to set expectations early on, and only take work that people would pay for. Much later, my high school hired me to paint a mural in the administration building and used the image as a their brand for many years. It was actually embedded in the wood flooring of our basketball court.
I wish I could have made off with a piece of the old floor somehow, but doubt I could find a place for it in my Brooklyn apartment.
They've replace that floor with a new one, probably a couple times over by now. I recently got a glimpse of the new gym floor in the horrifying independent film Hamlet 2. I'm not a big fan of it, it looks like clip art (the mustang, not the movie.)
I went on to a surprisingly rigorous graphic design program at ENMU in Portales, NM. It was a difficult transition for me, since I was coming from the hugely populated (555,417) Albuquerque, NM. All joking aside, the university was smaller that my high school. Portales had a population of 12,000 or so lovely citizens, including the university. PS. I hated peanuts, had a freaky style and didn't know the difference between a dairy cow and a meat cow.
I was had scored high in the Advance Placementrogram in art and was feeling pretty cocky about skipping drawing and painting 101. The dean hadn't had anyone apply to skip any classes in his program and didn't consider the AP to have any credibility. I had to take those scores and my high school portfolio and present to the him personally in order to skip the classes. I was a bit resentful, since the AP required a lot of work. The whole point of the program was advanced placement, get credit and skip classes you proved you didn't need. I thought this guy was a jerk, making up his own rules, disrespecting my cred, my talent. Who the hell did he think he was anyway?
I was 18 and a cocky, little punk. Did I mention that I was cocky? Dave Noblett was not a jerk, he was an intelligent, hard working educator and administrator. He staffed his team with other smart people who gave me the foundation that made me the designer I am today. Rock on, small liberal art schools in back woods everywhere. I have a deep respect for how he ran his program, it prepared me to me a valuable player in the workforce. I also learned early on that you don't just sashay in and automatically get the job. You have to prove yourself. He only let me skip one semester of Drawing 101.
Since I was putting myself through school, it took a while to complete the program. After my grant and scholarship ran out, I had to take time off for freelance gigs to pay for the next year of school. I did this off and on for seven years. It actually worked out well for me. I started out in this very traditional, analog graphic design program with a focus on design for print. By the time I left, I was helping my professors run the Brand New Computer Lab. I moved back and forth between Dallas and Portales doing freelance for The Promotion Network as an illustrator and designer.