They say every artist, entrepreneur, etc. has to have a mentor--someone in their field who's succeeding and can guide them to success. I've also heard of the "paper mentor", a successful person one reads about and gives his or her advice on how to make it. Well, I've got a "paper mentor" in real life, although he may not realize it. It's my dear friend Lou Shields.
Lou is a college art teacher at Prairie State University in Illinois. He is also a singer, songwriter and musician who plays gigs at clubs all over the country when he's not teaching. He also is a fine artist; he designs his own CD covers and other merchandise he sells at his concerts, in addition to creating paintings. And if that's not enough, he is an avid skateboarder at age 40. And he looks great in his trademark fedoras!
How am I emulating this guy I obviously admire? First, I have a "regular job" in education as a substitute teacher in my local school system to help pay the bills and sponsor my art. Second, I have multiple interests related to cartooning: animation, comics, caricatures and cartoon products. Third, my "road" is the Internet, where I "travel" to show and share my cartoons (and hopefully get paid for them).
The one thing I seem to lack is my version of Lou's skateboarding--something to do that's just plain fun. Or maybe I do have something: cooking. Since I love to eat, I'd better love to cook. When I'm not doing cartoons, I'm in my little kitchen making cheap food (ramen, canned vegetables, food from Dollar General stores, etc.) taste expensive with spices and different cooking techniques. My culinary adventures can be fraught with danger: More than once I've had small but scary grease fires on my stove. Good thing I always have a box of baking soda nearby! And my oven is kind of tricky: It gets really hot, hotter than my microwave, so things tend to get a little burnt. Time to invest in an oven thermometer!
I see Lou Shields as one of the most successful men I know personally. He's doing what he loves--everything he loves--without having to be a "superstar", whatever that is. I'm too shy to tell him how much he's inspired me; I'm just happy to be his friend.