Have you ever wondered if you were always destined to be an artist? It’s a question that often leaves me pondering, searching for an answer that adequately captures my artistic evolution. In the past, I would hastily reply, “I used to enjoy coloring when I was little,” eliciting chuckles from those who asked. Yet, it was the only form of “art” that I recalled engaging in during my childhood. Drawing came next, but my lack of success led me to abandon it prematurely. While we did have arts and crafts in grade school, they weren’t particularly transformative, failing to instill a sense of artistic identity within me. Attending a small high school further limited my exposure to the arts, and it wasn’t until my senior year that I enrolled in a graphic arts class at a vocational-technical school. Despite being set to major in Graphic Arts in college, a last-minute change of heart led me to pursue Parks and Recreation at an entirely different institution.

Several years passed with little creative exploration, but I believe the artist within me was always present, patiently building up anticipation for the day when I would discover my perfect medium.

Unbeknownst to me, my education in art began long before I realized it. Growing up on a farm in SE North Dakota, surrounded by cattle, pigs, sheep, and chickens, I was captivated by the world of animals. Our farm also provided a home for horses, cats, and a loyal dog. My days were filled with various farm activities, from raking hay and stacking bales to driving the grain truck and herding cows on horseback. At the age of 9, I joined 4H and started showing cattle with my family at local events—an experience that would later influence my sculpting of cows, becoming one of my favorite subjects.


Showing cattleApart from playing with the animals, one of my favorite pastimes was capturing their essence through photography. In the pre-digital camera era, I would exhaust an entire roll of film, snapping shots of cats, sheep, and whichever creature struck me as particularly photogenic at the time. While my parents believed it was a passing phase, I proved them wrong. Just take a glance at my Instagram and Facebook accounts! Those blurry pictures, often forgotten over time, still reside in albums alongside a few cherished snapshots of friends and family.

Drawing animals consumed a significant portion of my time as I desperately attempted to master this art form. Although I felt I lacked a natural talent for drawing, little did I realize that I was cultivating an artistic eye through my close observation of these creatures—their expressions, personalities, beauty, and physical structure.

While unrelated to my upbringing on a farm, my meticulous attention to detail found another outlet in my love for stuffed animals. Perhaps I clung onto this affection longer than most, even into my junior high years. My bed was a sanctuary for my stuffed companions, each meticulously arranged for maximum comfort. I grew frustrated with the ones that lacked appeal—ugly, scary, or simply devoid of expression. Yearning for a touch of realism, I sought out stuffed animals that passed my discerning quality inspection, adding them to my growing collection. It is this desire for creative expressions and realistic features that continues to fuel my passion for crafting animals today.

In reflection, I believe it was the combination of these experiences—my upbringing on the farm, my photographic endeavors, the pursuit of drawing, and even my affinity for stuffed animals—that ultimately shaped the artist I have become. The artist within me was always present, subtly guiding me towards my true calling, even during periods of dormant creativity.

As I embark on this artistic journey, capturing the essence of animals through sculpture, I invite you to join me in discovering the profound connection between creativity, childhood experiences, and the pursuit of artistic identity. Together, let us celebrate the evolution of an artist and the transformative power of finding one’s perfect medium.