I wasn't much prepared for life after high school. The idea that I was expected to find a college to attend was a rushed, last-minute decision that I only began to investigate late in my senior year of high school. I ended up only applying to one school, Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, that I only knew about because a friend from high school in the previous class had also gone there. I had a vague idea that I would probably go into 'art' or 'design' or 'illustration' as a career, but other than that, my future ahead looked murky and indistinct.
I did surprisingly well in my first year of school, making the dean's list, and keeping up with assignments. The savings from my summer job quickly evaporated in that first six months, though, and I had to move from my single apartment into a shared housing arrangement with a fellow student for the spring semester (with distractions and personal situations that came with it, my roommate being an alcoholic with spousal abuse issues). Money problems began to be more and more of an issue that spring, and after the conclusion of my first year of college, I returned home for the summer, and got another summer job working at Burger King in Flint to try and build up another 'nest egg'.
Unfortunately, no college era work has survived.
01 September 1980
24 August 1980
I think I first saw Frank Frazetta's work in a book of his collected illustrations sometime around my 18th year. I wasn't a big reader of fantasy fiction or the 'Conan' books or I might have ran across his illustrations sooner. I was probably initially drawn to the work because of the way he drew those stylized and sexy women, but what kept me coming back were the bold compositions and the wonderful use of color and dramatic lighting.
The 'Frazetta Fans' in art school became almost a cliched joke. How they would turn every assignment into an excuse to draw a muscle bound sword wielding warrior battling a sabre tooth tiger or giant lizard. So much so, that I found myself turning away from Frank's work out of a sense of shame that my own sensibilities would be somehow exposed.
I haven't thought of Frank's work in several years, but recently ran across a few images that reminded of that book I owned so many years ago, and how indelibly so many of the paintings have been etched into my subconscious and probably still influence how I draw to this very day. Many still have the power to astonish, and inspire.