I was born in a boring suburb on Long Island called North Bellmore, sixty miles east of New York City, showing an early talent for drawing and procrastination. My mother constantly carried scrap paper and pencils for me to use because I was drawing all of the time, everywhere I went. I refused to carry my own art supplies, always giving up art because it was so frustrating.
After being inspired by an art teacher in the last two years of high school, I took my talent seriously and decided to attend prestigious Pratt Institute in New York City (1968-72), where I experimented with intaglio, welding, advertising, illustration, film making, and finally, fine arts. I also attended the School of Visual Arts, studying film making, which, at that time, was my first love. Despite all the distractions of an art school campus in New York City and the Vietnam protests every spring, I actually learned a thing or two.
In 1972 I escaped to San Francisco and became a street artist on Fisherman’s wharf, airbrushing T-shirts, daring the tourists to ask for whatever they wanted – a car, a portrait, or a copy of a record cover, and yours truly would paint it for them on the spot. This led to the establishment of Clownbank Studio, my graphic art business. I gradually graduated to loftier realms of commercial art and in 1976 moved to Santa Cruz to seriously study painting, lettering, and running my own business.
Beginning with designing logos for the local mom and pop stores, and painting their signs and murals, I soon attracted bigger clients such as Disney, Universal Studio Tours, Atari, Dell Publishing, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and Ashley Furniture Homestore. The work was varied and included illustrating CD and book covers, editorial illustrations for magazines, posters, and airbrushing specialty automobile paint jobs. I even airbrushed carousel animals (on actual full size merry-go-rounds) for Disney and Universal Studio Tours.
Murals are my primary love and over a period of thirty years, I developed techniques that allowed me to airbrush highly detailed, realistic images on a large scale on any surface, even heavy texture and cinderblock. Working with the Honor Society at Cupertino High School in 1991, I created a 32’x8’ mural depicting the school’s heroes. I won a competition sponsored by the Santa Cruz Art Commission in 1993 to paint a 60’x15’ iconic mural downtown. Buck Owens Productions hired yours truly in 1996 to design and produce a 35’x15’ mural depicting Buck’s life story. In 2003, with the redevelopment agency and the City of Santa Cruz Art Commission, I created a 55’x12’ panoramic mural of historic Santa Cruz buildings. I executed over eight large murals for three Ashley Furniture Homestores and in 2007, collaborated with Victoria Sulski on both a 44’x16’ mural in the Morgan Hill library and a 18’x10’ mural for the Santa Claritas Walk of the Stars. We also taught a mural workshop together at Cabrillo College that same year.
More recently, I have spent a lot of time at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, painting a 400’x40’ backdrop for a million dollar musical and restoring six murals. A 100’x4’ mural of mine containing over fifty portraits graces the walls of the Sierra 2 Community Center in Sacramento and even Salt Lake City’s Northwest Recreational and Community Center has a 15’x5’ Clownbank mural. Watsonville joined the club a few years ago with two 16’x20’ murals based on fruit box labels.
Along the way, I’ve been interviewed on TV and radio, and have been featured in the New York Times, the Santa Cruz Good Times, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the Santa Cruz Metro, the Paradise Post, the Chico News and Review, the Chico Enterprise Record, Idea Magazine, and the L.A. Times, as well as being published in various books and magazines. I have won several awards from Airbrush Action Magazine for my artwork.
It’s been a long and winding road, but it’s my calling, and what the hey – I actually still love doing it after all of these years.