I have been fortunate in my career as an artist. It has taken me to places I have always wanted to go! For starters I think I got the single most amazing Peace Corps assignment ever – as a graphic artist for the Ministry of Health of Fiji which turned into being their resident cartoonist.
I came home from those crazy two years and started my career as an artist in earnest and painted hundreds and hundreds of t-shirts selling them at art shows from Wisconsin to Florida.
I called my art Martoons and over the years went from t-shirts through “Shrinky DInk”, mixed media, wood, metal, silk, ending up that original go with paintings on canvas.
Fun in Europe!
I was lucky enough to get some press and attention from gallerists and soon made contact with a dealer in Germany who fell in love with my work and I started making regular trips there. I would paint as much as I could in the studio he and his wife owned near Frankfort and we’d end my visit always with a show of one kind or another. Might be local, or Hamburg or even France!
When I moved to Chicago I was motivated to create work good enough to get into a trendy gallery or two which eventually happened with the paintings. I ended up having several solo shows in the River North gallery district which is a dream come true for a self-taught artist.
By this time my outdoor street festivals had become national fine craft shows and I sold my work out of craft galleries from coast to coast. This brought my work to the attention of greeting card companies and book publishers.
One of the most amazing moments in my entire career was the time I walked into the offices of MacGraw-Hill in New York city (located next to the United Nations) to deliver the finished illustrations for a picture book!
From this experience I started to take myself a little more seriously as an illustrator which lead me to create over a hundred animated gifs for the brand new Amazon.com web site. These were part of their series of free e-cards which helped them become more visible.
By now the internet was becoming more real and I decided to get a domain name and build my own website. Thus we have happyart.com! This lead to more design work. As my familiarity with the web grew so too has my stable of potential creative outlets. I now blog, make videos and have even set up and run a social network. Last year I won an international award (the first ever Alltech A+) for a video I created to create some buzz for the World Equestrian Games that came to Lexington, Kentucky where I now live. (Winning video here.)
I have also begun writing and designing books. Two that I published last year were: “HapiLani: The Natural History of a Dream Land” and “JoJo’s Cans: The Life’s Work of an Optimistic Dog” (a collaboration I did with my cattledog, an artist in his own right). Click on either for more info.