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This is what Barry Moser, the great book illustrator, said to a young artist. He is one of my visual heroes and I’d like to share this quote along with a Moser illustration appropriate for the upcoming holiday “spirit”. When you look at some of Barry’s work it can make you shiver with only the fight between light and dark.
“When I was young, perhaps around your age, I was bored in school, so I stared out the window daydreaming about being home with my dog or building a model. I had a problem with my eyes and didn’t read very well. It was embarrassing when I was called on to read aloud. Reciting my times tables was even more mortifying. I was the last to be picked to play ball at recess, but the first to be chosen to work on the Thanksgiving mural—drawing was the only thing I did well, and I did it at home hour after hour.
I did not go to kindergarten. I started school in the first grade and went six years to public school. Then I went to military academy in the seventh. My family was not rich, so it was a privilege to attend such an elite school. However, the academics were very demanding, sports were required, and military drill as mandatory—and there were no art courses. Not one. In fact, I was often disciplined for drawing, for “wasting my time.” My family wanted me to become a military officer or a medical doctor. Anything but an artist. My daddy told me that I could never make a living at art. But I persisted in spite of his discouragement and today I live a marvelously happy and comfortable life. So, my young friend never let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. You can. All it takes—and this is a lot—is the desire to do it, the persistence to learn how to do it well, the courage to stand strong when people around you are discouraging your dreams. And perhaps most important of all is being willing to fail while you are trying your hardest—but then to pick it up and start over again.”