SoCal, So What?

2 03 2011

Some of you know (and most of the internet doesn’t) that I spent the last four days in Southern California with my mother and my back-up mom. We went down specifically to tour a small art school called Laguna College of Art and Design. We went early and stayed for a while so I could get the feel of a town that was entirely new to me.

Laguna Beach is a beautiful town. It’s what I imagine Port Townsend would be like if it’s citizens ever saw the sun. There was a good mix of age groups, beautiful flowers and trees and what we can only imagine was some sort of city-wide small dog requirement. Lots of bikers and runners and not a few fancy schmansy cars. It helps the vibe that it’s a super wealthy area. (Laguna is in Orange County if that helps any of you imagine it…). I’d much rather deal with the spirit of greed than the spirit of violence.

Sitting on a bench with the ocean only steps away I had a moment of “I could live here”. 

Then I realized that I feel that way any place near the ocean. If there are trees and flowers and a Whole Foods I’m pretty much sold. Such things do not a home make, however.

The school itself was grand. Lot’s of hipster young people and the faculty practically oozed awesomeness. They have a “grassy knoll” where, several times a semester, the San Diego Zoo brings up rare wildlife for the school to draw. On those days students are excused from their regular life drawing classes and everyone sits around the knoll. Did I mention the many many fountains and how the whole place smells of rosemary and clay?

Our tour guide, James, was incredibly helpful. He works for the Admissions department and reviewed my portfolio after the tour. Sitting in that conference room with my art up on a big screen TV while a 28-year-old working artist reviewed my work was almost an out-of-body experience. Thank the good Lord James had a sense of humor. (You all know that I use humor to deflect tension, right?) Actually he had lots of positive things to say and it was a very helpful critique. I now know what needs work and what I’m doing well on.

But in the midst of it all he said something that struck me deeply: “The only difference between you and a professional illustrator is pencil time and contacts.”


Did the man from the 100K school just tell me that I CAN BE AN ILLUSTRATOR? For REALS? With just time and a couple of contacts?!?!

It doesn’t matter how many times your mother(s) and father(s) say you are good. In the back of your mind you know that a) they love you enough to be somewhat blinded and b) they have no idea what the industry requires. But when a REAL artist who works at a school with one of the best illustration programs on the West Coast says “No really, you are completely capable of this without jumping through any extraordinary hoops” your whole face melts off.


OF course that begs the question “Why the heck would I go 100k in debt if I could achieve the same result through hard work, the interwebs and a couple thousand dollars worth of books?”


So that’s where I am today. More soon. Lots of good stories from the trip.




3 responses

2 03 2011
lynnie mommy

I love you and read your blog!! so proud 🙂 picture of grassy knoll is now on fb too.

2 03 2011
Robin Westad

I am happy for you. To receive affirmation from someone that understands what you do but doesn’t know you or have anything to gain is wonderful. Believe it, because it is true. You are wonderful.

2 03 2011
Parsing Nonsense

Wow, that’s an awesome compliment! I lived near Laguna Beach for the first 14 years of my life and you’re right, it’s a lovely town. It would be an incredible experience for you!

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