• Very early in his career, children’s picture-book creator Ezra Jack Keats tried to get a job working for a miserly comic book artist as a cleanup and background man. He arrived to try out for the job with his own brushes because the comic book artist with the job didn’t want him to ruin his brushes. In a poorly lit room, Mr. Keats worked for nearly an hour. The comic book artist then looked at his work, said, “This won’t do,” and told Mr. Keats that he owed him fifteen cents. Mr. Keats asked, “For what?” The comic book artist answered, “The ink.” Mr. Keats was so tired and discouraged that he paid the fifteen cents. Fortunately, Mr. Keats became so successful in his career that he never had to charge a struggling artist fifteen cents for ink.
• Julia Morgan was a woman who was an architect in the first half of the 20th century, a time when few women were working as architects. She often said, “Don’t ever turn down a small job because you think it’s beneath you.” One of her smallest jobs was a two-room residence in Monterey, California, for a woman who became chair of the Young Women’s Christian Association. Because the woman was pleased with her residence, she was instrumental in getting Ms. Morgan the job of designing several YWCAs — big jobs, all — across the country. (An even smaller job was when Ms. Morgan designed a tiny house for the daughters of her taxi driver to play in.)
• During the Great Depression, the United States government created many jobs for its citizens. Among its jobs program was the Easel Project, which paid artists to create works of art. Many people are likely to regard such a program as a make-work program, with nothing significant resulting from it. Indeed, many of the paintings were sold to a plumber who was interested only in the canvas. He removed the canvas from the frames and used it in his plumbing work! However, some of the artists in the Easel Project, such as Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence, became world-class (in addition to being African-American) artists.
• Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti worked long and hard from 1508 to 1512 as he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Often, he spent days and nights on the scaffolding without leaving, working as paint dripped onto his face and sleeping only inches from the ceiling. He slept in his clothes and his boots, and sometimes when he finally took off his boots, his skin came off with them. The ceiling is a masterpiece, but Pope Julius II became frustrated with the amount of time Michelangelo spent painting it. Sometimes, Pope Julius II came into the Sistine Chapel and yelled up at Michelangelo, “When will it be done?” Michelangelo always yelled back, “When it is done.”
• Country comedian Archie Campbell started out as an artist, and his talent came in handy. While serving in the United States Navy during World War II, he doodled while on duty, drawing several pictures of Donald Duck when he should have been working. His boss caught him in the act, but instead of bawling him out, he asked, “Can you do other things like that?” Mr. Campbell replied that he could, so his boss showed the doodles to a Lieutenant, and Mr. Campbell was put to work illustrating pamphlets for the Bureau of Personnel. In this job, he drew such things as Donald Duck pulling the wrong switch and getting an electrical shock
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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