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Draw Like Michael Thoenes

"Draw and color for a living!"


Michael's advice for young artists?

If you struggle with perfectionism, let it go! It will block you from becoming a great artist because you can allow fear of failure keep you from trying. Try and fail, then try again! To improve faster, fail faster. Quality often comes from quantity when learning to draw. Don't give up!

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I wanted to be an artist as early as I can remember and long before I understood I could make money doing art. I vividly remember my first paid freelance job, I was about 12 years old and my friend's uncle Stan was staying at her house. Uncle Stan wanted some peace and quiet with three young girls in the house, and he especially wanted them to stay out if his room. He commissioned me to draw a sign for his door warning "Death to all ye who enter here!" The sign included a cartoon drawing of an executioner. Uncle Stan had a bizarre sense of humor, but he did pay me $5 for the sign. In that moment I was hooked and knew I wanted to make my living as an artist! it may have been the most important $5 I ever made. ~ Michael Thoenes

How did you get started in drawing and coloring?

When I was very young, my father would bring home used printer paper for me to draw on. One side of the printer paper, the stripped side, was covered with computer printouts, but the white side, the good side, was all clean and ready to accept whatever my imagination could pour out through a pencil. My dad got this used paper from the recycle bin at his office. Little did I know that one day I would be working as a graphic artist at the very same office. It was ironic. I liked to tell people that it was destiny since I learned to draw on paper from the recycle bin there. ~ Michael Thoenes

Was your interest in art encouraged?

I was fortunate to have a grandmother who was trained in the arts. My grandmother, Maja Hermann, was a fantastic watercolor painter and became very well known in North Alabama for her paintings of classical music composers and conductors. I had a few drawing lessons with her, but the greatest benefit of having an artist for a grandmother was watching her work. I learned more from that than I ever learned from the few art lessons I took with her. My parents encouraged my artistic pursuits but they had little faith that one could make a good living at it. I think the computer revolution did a lot to change and expand opportunities for artists like myself. ~ Michael Thoenes

What has a career as an artist meant to you!

I was told early on that you should pursue your passion. If you love to do something and you work hard to be very good at it, you can make a living doing it. I consider myself blessed and thank God because I have been able to make my living as an artist in one form or another for most of my life. I have held many positions as an artist; T-shirt airbrush artist, sign painter, newspaper graphic designer, fine artist, 3D animation artist, portrait illustrator, corporate multimedia designer and graphic design artist. I feel like I have had awesome opportunities to make a living in art and I've seen how art and artists touch every part of our daily lives. I feel really fortunate to do something I love to do.
~ Michael Thoenes

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