Art alumnus presents ‘things I’ve learned on my way to wonder’

April 1st, 2016 Comments Off on Art alumnus presents ‘things I’ve learned on my way to wonder’

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Brian W. Parker, “artist, illustrator, entrepreneur and creator of the fantastical,” returned to his Alma Mater to share some life lessons with Department of Art juniors and seniors on April 1.

The 2003 MSU Bachelor of Fine Arts alumnus who holds a master’s from Portland State University presented “Things I’ve learned on my way to wonder.”

Parker, owner and creative director at Believe in Wonder Publishing, discussed his pathway from student to entrepreneur, and broke down his advice into six key points.

  1. Don’t wait until you think you are good enough. (If you do, you will be waiting forever.)

“Sharing your work helps you grow,” said Parker.

  1. Always be working. (When you’re not sleeping, eating or loving.)

“Keep a sketchbook with you all the time,” he said. “It’s where the ideas live at. They are there for a second, and you think, ‘Oh I’m a genius.’ And then you go to lunch, and the idea’s gone.” He added, “Creativity is like a muscle. If you are not working it out, it gets soft and atrophied – you don’t want your imagination to get to that point – you want to keep it robust and strong.”

  1. Make your own opportunities. (Because, unfortunately, you can’t always expect them to come from somewhere else.)

The author encouraged students to join groups and apply for grants and residencies. “Take what you are passionate about, and fit that into a mold that an organization has set up – do the kind of work that inspires you.”

  1. Be open with your expectations. (Keep high standards, but be flexible with outcomes.)

“Don’t feel bad about your shortfalls – they are really great learning experiences that encourage your work. You have to expect that not all the work you are doing is going to find an audience right away. In fact, try your best not to try to cater your work to an audience – do the work you are inspired by that gets you fired up.”

  1. Meet your heroes. (Just ‘cause.)

“They want to inspire you and keep you going,” he said, encouraging students to go to talks and conventions and then sit down with their “heroes” and ask questions.

  1. Believe in something. (And make it a part of what you do!)

“You are building a fan base. How about build a fan base while helping others? That separates your work from your peers.”

Parker and his wife believe in inspiring creativity in schools and work to bring his other passion, storytelling, to schools that lack art programs. He has heard from numerous teachers the difference he has made in students.

“Stuff like that that gets you up in the morning. There are going to be ups and downs, but if you are really excited about the work, the ups and downs don’t matter that much.”

“In the end what’s most important about your work is sharing it with other people and having it inspire them.”

Be sure to check out Parker’s next book, “The Wonderous Science,” the first of a series, is set to come out this summer.

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