Artist/Dad on a Mission: Defining Moments: Part 1

Anthony AO Oropeza Artist on a Mission

Designer/Artist: Anthony AO Oropeza

Artist/Dad on a Mission: Defining Moments: Part 1

One of Many Defining Factors to Pursuing a Career in Art

Let me start this off by saying- in my younger years, and people who knew me will tell you,  I was not a really good artist.  They’ll tell you I was not a straight A student.  They’ll say I was not flashy, and I did not come from money.  I will tell you that I was and am not even the best artist from my neighborhood (Argentine District – Kansas City, Kansas), nor was I the best artist in any of my grades growing up.  And if, and it is a big “if”, I am the best artist in my family, it is because there aren’t any serious designers or artists in my family (that I know of).

With that said,  I was the only one in my family that had a love for the arts.  When I was little, it was music, comic books and cartoons.  Then later it was painting and ceramics. Then it was graphic design and communication. Soon after, I was about character development and story writing, which grew into play writing.  All on my own (with the help and encouragement of others).  And here’s the kicker, most of my work is either unseen or has failed.  But some has succeeded.  And those small successes fuel the fire.  But it’s really my belief that all the failures do as well.

And so I pursued art in college. I was not a good student.  I was not a good artist (I was not even top 5 in my classes). Why? Because I was not focused, no direction, no mentor, and did not do my homework in and out of the classroom. Then, regrettably, I slipped.  I fell flat on my face, and dropped out my first year – a failed artist.  Or maybe just an arist wanna-be.

Came back home, felt sorry for myself. Then got back up and decided I was going to finish what I started-one way or another.  I enrolled and went back to school. I paid my way and earned two Associate Degrees, and then returned back to school entering as a sophomore, in hopes of achieving my 4 year art degree.  I passed all my classes, then submitted my portfolio for review and advancement to the next level.  Denied.

At the end of that sophomore year in college, I was denied because of my artistic talent. I could not advance to my junior year art school. They said I was not good enough.

And I believed them, for a small period of time. And maybe they were right – on that day.  Or maybe they were not. (I thought they were totally wrong.) But here is the deal, no one in that school ever sat down with me and talked about my strengths and weaknesses, nor did they ask questions about what art I like, what kind of art I did in high school, nor gave me direction or advice on how seek info or do my own research in fields that interest me.  Nothing.

I liked comic books and cartoons at that age. In art school at that time – they looked down on both.  They thought it was not an art form. It was beneath them. Just like those who criticized Impressionism or Abstract Expressionism.

In any case, where I grew up, no one in the neighborhood was making a living as an artist, in advertising, animation or anything. But if I needed help changing an alternator, giving a tune-up, putting-up drywall, or welding something, that was just a phone call away – and that was a cool thing. Now without getting into any detail, in general, reaching success in the art world at any level is not easy, especially when you are not the best in your field, didn’t make your college portfolio review, have no access to training, and have zero connections to the KC art scene. I was hip to the game – nobody was going to help.

So after being denied to advance in art school, I figured I would give a non-art degree a shot. My current job offered tuition assistance.  So applied for a really good school here in KC (Rockhurst College) thinking I would never get in, and boom – they accepted me. So I increased my loan debt and went to school and worked a full-time job, and three years later, I achieved a 4-year degree. The degree was not in art. But I got that piece of paper. It was one of the hardest things I ever achieved.

Now even though I was denied upper level classes in art school, that didn’t mean I couldn’t still create on my own art on my own. That’s one of the cool things about art. You can create at home, without school.

So I would read and do research on the fields of art I liked – painting, comic books and animation, which lead me to comic book/story/novel writing, which led me to movie and play writing (nothing ever produced). Now, I have never had a chapter book published or a play produced – but they are written – something I never thought I would or could do. That’s probably because I hated reading, let alone writing. Plus I am not a proofreader and doing most of the work alone is very tough.

So after being denied to advance in art school, I figured I would give a non-art degree a shot. My current job offered tuition assistance.  So applied for a really good school here in KC (Rockhurst College) thinking I would never get in, and boom – they accepted me.  So I increased my loan debt and went to school and worked a full-time job and 3 years later, I achieve a 4-year degree. But the degree was not in art. But I got that piece of paper.  It was one of the hardest things I ever achieved.

Now even though I was denied upper level classes in art school, that didn’t mean I couldn’t still create on my own art on my own. That’s one of the cool things about art. You can create at home, without school.

Nevertheless, all of my work (successes and failures) have led to a point in my life about 4-5 years ago where I had to make a decision. My kiddo was eventually going to go to high school, and I was going to have to pay for it

So a second job was definitely in the cards. I was either going to work at a coffee shop (which I think I would really love and get paid peanuts) and not work on any art projects, or take a leap of faith and take one last chance at this art thing. Again.

And then enters Mother Teresa.

More later…next article (Part Two) Sunday, August 20.

 

Part two coming soon.

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