in the week, one afternoon before the July 4th weekend in 1991,
I was doing some Art Director type o' paperwork in my office at
WUAB-TV Channel 43 in Parma, Ohio. As often happens throughout the
day, the phone rings. "Who wants what right away so I won't
be able to go home on time" I thought to myself. It turns out
that it was someone from Beckett Publications in Dallas, Texas calling
to tell me that they just received a call from the Upper Deck Company
in Carlsbad, California and they wanted to talk to me about doing
some paintings for them. In case you aren't aware, Beckett Publications
publishes magazines for the various sports regarding the sports
trading card industry and the current value of trading cards. At
that time Upper Deck was a relatively new company that produced
baseball cards but was branching out into the other sports as well.
Back to my story. For the past year I had been doing freelance illustration
work with Beckett Publications creating drawings and paintings of
popular athletes that they would reproduce in their magazines. Someone
at Upper Deck liked my artwork. A "trade mark" of Upper
Deck's card sets was that they would use paintings of one player
from each team as a team checklist card. They were scheduled to
release an inaugural set of NBA trading cards in the fall of 1991.
Sooooo, they needed someone to create 28 paintings in time for them
to meet their release date. They figured I was the man for the job.
Since it was a holiday weekend and there was also a big national
trading card industry show that weekend which the person I needed
to talk to was attending, I was unable to talk with them until Monday.
I just happened to be taking the next week off of work. By 9am Monday
morning I'm dying of curiosity and it's still only 6am in California!
It was mid-afternoon before I was able to get them on the phone.
They needed 28 paintings by late September. The only hitch was,
I would never be able to finish these paintings if I was working
a "9 to 5" job. They offered me enough $ to make me think
about resigning my position at the TV station. I gave it some thought
(for about 2 seconds - I'm joking). I really did think it over because
I was not looking for a job and figured I was a "lifer"
at Channel 43. But, I decided I'd give the TV station my 2 weeks
notice when I got back from vacation. The rest of that week was
spent setting up my basement studio in preparation to really crank
out some work. My last day at the TV station was Fri. July 21, 1991.
So, everday, from Saturday July 22 until, I think it was, Sept.
24th, I put in at least 10 hours a day, 7 days a weeks. The longest
week was the 2nd week when I worked 80 hours just to see how far
I could push myself in case an emergency came up and cut into my
time. So, in a nutshell, that's how I got started on my journey
as an Independent Professional.