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Way back, a long long time ago when I was little, I had terrible allergies. You name it, I was allergic to it. As a result, I spent many hours in Dr. Deramo's waiting room with my mother waiting for my next injections so I could function like a normal kid. I'd spend the time until my name was called doodling pictures of Snoopy - Snoopy on his doghouse, Snoopy by a tree, Snoopy sitting, Snoopy laying down. You get the picture. It was at one of these appointments that my mom took a look at my drawings and said something that changed my life: 'You should be an artist.'
My foray into art was quick. The first indication from outside sources that I was good came in 5th grade. I went to Catholic school all my life, and that was at the time that nuns were in charge (I still have ruler marks on my knuckles to prove it). I had a classmate that was, shall we say, maturing before the rest of us, and I took to calling him Stinky. He had a major crush on a girl whose last name was Martinky. Stinky and Martinky - classic elementary school fodder. I took pencil to paper and created a drawing of a stinky clown in love with a little girl, and cleverly left my name off my creation. Somehow - and I'm still not sure how - the paper slipped out on to the hallway floor where the nuns eventually found it and confronted me. Now, understand, the first rule of Catholic school is Deny, Deny, Deny. The conversation went like this:
Nun: 'Billy, did you draw this?'
Nun: 'It looks like your work.'
Me: 'I didn't do it!'
Nun: 'But you're the only one that can draw that well.'
Wow. My first art critique, and it was a winner. (They never did find proof it was me. Score.)
I continued art throughout school and into college where I earned my Applied Associates in Visual Communications from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh before obtaining my Bachelor of Fine Arts from Youngstown State University (my wife would ask me, 'What was your homework like? Did you just have to draw something every week?' Grrrrr). I entered contests and won, I was hired to do artwork for several sign companies, and I was finding my way in the world of art all the way up until as you see me and my work today.