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An Artist's Journey

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Chapter 10: Surviving The After-Effects of a Stock Market Crash


After the stock market crash in October, 1987, local advertising budgets dried up and by January of 1988 calls from advertising agencies for my services dried up as well. There was a six-month period when I had no business. I had a little income from my cartooning class at Pima College, and the department head, Ken Gardiner, was very supportive. He found extra duties around the office and other ways to supplement my paycheck, including commissions to design promotional posters for the school.


The cartooning class was a bright spot. The people were full of energy and enthusiasm, and I decided to have a showing of their work in my studio at the end of the 1988 spring semester. The exhibit was great fun for the students, family members and friends—about 80 people in all were there through the day. It was a somewhat bittersweet time for me since Debra and I had decided to end our relationship a few days before. We remained good friends and the show went on.

Every wall in the studio was filled with student work. Fillmore attended.

I liked to include package design assignments in the course.

Here I am (in the hawaiian shirt) with some of the more demented...I mean, dedicated....students.

Another opportunity arose with the Fourth Avenue Street Fair poster contest. The fair had become a Tucson tradition since it's inception in 1970. It's held twice a year, and that winter the organizers offered a $1,000 prize that got my attention. The prize attracted a lot of entries.

My design was chosen for the Winter fair.

A follow-up job was to reconfigure the design for billboards that were used to promote the spring fair the next year.

I also did pro bono work for the local chapter of the March of Dimes for a few years.


Debra's business was healthy and she needed to advertise. I designed a series of ads for her, and she provided carpentry work building the understructure for various window treatments. Her connection with home builders also led to commissions to create decorative art for model homes.

These are examples from a series of ads designed for Debra.

I built this faux pool table that Debra covered with fabric for a model home display. The cue and balls had to be screwed to the table to keep visitors from walking away with them.

These are typical examples of decorative painting for model homes.

Then, Karen Liptak called with a job to provide drawings for a project she had with Franklin Watts, a publisher of educational books. The book, "North American Indian Sign Language", required about 200 line drawings of hands.

The book and cover were designed by the publisher.

My own hands served as models for the drawings. These are typical examples.

With these projects, teaching, some financial help from family, and the easy availability of credit cards with low minimum payments, I managed to survive the after effects of the stock market crash and make it into the 1990s.


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