While I had, pretty much, always been into drawing, I don’t think I really was able to appreciate “art” until I got into Jr High. Ball Jr High in Anaheim, CA. In 7th grade, I had Mr. Jones. This poor man was literally driven to a state of stress that I had not seen in a teacher since. This is a man who in a room full of 7th grade students, yelled about how “fucked up” we were because someone tipped over a gallon of soft soap underneath the sink. I’m unsure if he retired or just left the school, but the next year we got a new teacher. A first year teacher, one Emy Leon. I was from her that I learned to appreciate and respect that art existed outside of comic book characters, and even visual art entirely. She even invited a group of us artistically inclined kids to see Placido Domingo. The introduction to culture and substance. I will never forget how encouraging she was to me, even when I was awful on occasion. I drew a poster that said “Kurt For President” with a crude drawing of Kurt Cobain swallowing a shotgun the morning after he committed suicide. I also lit a match in her classroom and got suspended. She didn’t take any of my shit, but was still great to me nonetheless.
I had the good fortune that my kid ended up going to my old school and in that, I got to reconnect with my old teacher and be friends. We’ve kept in touch and she proposed an opportunity to me: Design a cool shirt for the Ball Jr High art department. I was thrilled to be able to do something for someone and someplace that helped guide me into something that I’m very passionate about now. The kids like it apparently and I’m glad. I guess all these years of being immature has paid off.