Updated: Aug 13
Just how did I get to be a bald, bearded, visual arts minister?
The story begins a long time ago, in a naval hospital far, far away...
I was born in Okinawa, Japan to an Air Force family. My love of art began at a young age because chronic asthma kept me from playing sports. I discovered a love for drawing - I mean, I could do it without needing a rescue inhaler, and I kind of had a knack for it. This hobby was further bolstered by the imaginative galaxy of Star Wars (see drawing by a 6 year-old me below). You could probably tell it's had some influence on me, just by the way I started this post. Watching the films countless times over and drawing the menagerie of creatures from far-flung worlds led to an interest in animals of all kinds. Case and point, on summer visits to my grandparents in Miami, I would search the backyard tirelessly for giant grasshoppers to observe from the safety of an empty bottle of orange juice. Art remained my primary interest, and when we moved to England, then Florida, I continued to draw on every piece of copy paper I could get my hands on.
After moving to Florida, I experienced a bit of culture shock. I had never lived stateside before, so a lot of things that kids took for granted were amazing to me. Case and point, I was amazed that Borders actually had all the Star Wars young adult novels in store, and that I did not have to special-order them. Fast-forward to high school, where I was able to take some advanced art classes. It was there, I stumbled across the field of biological illustration while doing a career aptitude test. One of the results that I got was a medical illustrator and I wasn't sure what that was, but it sounded intriguing. I looked into it and found that this profession combined a passion for science – something I’d attained becoming a fan of Star Wars at such a young age – and art! Further research showed that there was an even broader term for this fusion of art and science, biological illustration. When I found out that the University of Florida in Gainesville happened to house this exact program, I applied, was lucky enough to get in, and declared my major in Biological Illustration with a minor in Entomology/Nematology., which allowed me to merge my interests in animals and art. I graduated with a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies (Concentration: Biological Illustration) and a minor in Entomology/Nematology in 2015, and the begged the question - what's next?
The Faith Factor
I wasn't sure what to do post-grad. I had considered graduate programs in medical illustration, but didn't feel a passion for that specialty. If I had been allowed the opportunity to study such a niche field, why did I now find myself not wanting to take it to the next level? These were questions I had to take to God. For my entire life, faith has been of paramount importance. I'm a Seventh-Day Adventist Christian and believe that having an active, personal relationship with Christ is the treasure to be sought in this lifetime. To that end, I also believe that everybody is imbued with peculiar attributes that can reflect the love of God to the world. My attributes are a passion for art, an interest in science, and a willingness to share the hope that my faith gives. I decided against graduate school, and much to my own surprise, took a position at Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS). I'd always been told I was a natural teacher, and God opened the doors, so I went for it. To date, I've spent four years with SCPS, and have continued doing freelance work as an illustrator. At the end of last school year though, I came to a realization: the safety net of salaried pay was keeping me from putting my true passion for art to work as a Christian. So with much prayer and support, I left the county to strike out on my own as a visual arts minister.
I'm charting new territory every day with God, and firmly believe that He will establish my steps. Join me on this ongoing journey as I navigate field, faith, and fandom!