Why I do what I do

by Jun 23, 2020

A Brief Introduction

It’s 1992, and I’ve been working professionally for about ten years now. I receive a call from a woman who wants me to do a portrait of her sister, but the only reference photo that she has is a little 2” school photo that’s about twenty years old. For the most part, all my work is graphic design and commercial illustration, so this is not something that I would typically do, but I am intrigued. I asked her why she wanted this portrait done. It was to be a Christmas gift for her father. She went on to tell me that when she was 12 and her sister 10, her sister died of leukemia. If she had lived, she would be 30 years old. She says that this was the only photo that she had of her sister, and she thought it would make a special gift. This really touched my heart, so I agreed to do the portrait for her.

I worked very hard for a couple of days on the preliminary sketch, but I couldn’t get the likeness for some reason, which became a real struggle. I put down my pencil, picked up the little school photo, and began to talk to the little girl as if she were there with me. I asked her what her story was and what message did she want to give her sister? After spending some time in reflection with this child, I felt inspired and picked up my pencil again. This time the portrait came together, and things just flowed. I felt like I was having a conversation with this little girl as we developed a relationship.

When the portrait was finished, I contacted my client to let her know she could pick it up. I felt a little nervous because I wasn’t sure how she was going to respond to my work. When the doorbell rang, I answered the door with the portrait in hand. She reached for the portrait, held it close, and began to cry. She told me that she hadn’t seen those beautiful eyes in over 20 years with tears in her eyes. She could feel her sister’s love coming from the portrait, and she felt loved.

Not only did my client receive a beautiful message, so did I. This was the beginning of my new creative path. From that day forward, I wanted to continue to capture those very heartfelt personal moments in time. That’s why I do what I do.