About Me

Former ad agency CEO and technical illustrator, and book cover artist for Addison Wesley, McGraw-Hill, Cole Publishing and others.......... Okay so, here's my story: .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Back in ancient times, in the 6th grade living in Kansas City, Kansas, I was roundly scolded for cheating on an art project in which the homework assignment was to draw a picture of vegetation commonly found in my neighborhood. I managed to create a pencil drawing that my teacher could not believe any 10 year old could possibly produce. My drawing of a milk weed vine was so strikingly real that my teacher figured I must have traced it out of some book on botany. Little did she know, a year or so earlier I had received a John Gnagy “Learn to Draw” art kit as a gift. At that time I was especially enamored with wildlife and perspective drawing. .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. I protested loudly to my accuser, so loud in fact that I was sent straight to the administration office. The principal, a rather elderly nun with thick glasses and an equally thick German accent, decided that my “punishment” should be to draw a picture using a vase of flowers in her office as the subject, while she watched. Also, I was told that my drawing should be plenty good enough for Father Francis to hang in a blank spot on the blank wall in his office. Failing that, it was made clear that I would be hung, metaphorically speaking, as a lowly good-for-nothing cheater. She left the room and returned with a sketch pad, some pencils and an eraser. ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... I don’t remember all the details of this event, but I do recall taking my time with this task, that is, really, really, really taking my time. After all, it was for the formidable Father Francis, so I wanted everything to be perfect. Later, at one point I looked up from my nearly finished Vase With Flowers drawing and was surprised to see that several teachers including my 6th grade teacher, had come into the room. I was even more surprised and somewhat bewildered by the fact that they were all smiling. .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Later that particular drawing, my milkweed vine drawing and a new one named, Farmlands were entered in a state wide youth art competition. I received an award of some sort, and thereafter my work vanished into the art galleries. The last time I saw my drawings they were on exhibit at the colossal Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Mo. .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Thus my art career had formally begun. .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Spin ahead approximately 2.5 decades:. .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. I came to realize that the 128k Macintosh computer I had just purchased (using the entirety of my savings account,) was a truly remarkable art tool. At first, I made this purchase as a software creation tool to use in my programming contract work, a small venture I had just started earlier that same year. But when I decided to take a break from this kind of work, I loaded up the one and only art program available for the Mac at that time, MacPaint. The results were interesting, especially when printing the the computer drawings with my high density dot matrix printer. I immediately recognized the results as very similar to the look of traditional wood block art printing. It took a bit of time to perfect a drawing technique utilizing the mouse (later to become fondly known as "the brick") but within a few months of doing practically nothing but MacPaint artwork, I had compiled a portfolio of sorts and was on my way to scout for a new home and a place to "hang my shingle" in a much larger community in Santa Rosa, CA. I had decided quite firmly to do art, and nothing but art for a living. .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Of course making a career of art is, well, not exactly easy. However, I did manage to find work from the get-go in which my compositional skills were well applied: from Real Estate photographer, to desktop publishing, to working in the ad department for a local newspaper (designing advertisement comps), to executing full color 3D illustrations for the local advertisement agencies, to producing book cover art work for Addison Wesley, McGraw Hill, Cole Publishing and others, to creating product and package design from concept to process color separations, to my work in CD covers/packaging, trade show booths, movie poster design, software package design, photo-realistic prototype visualizations for print and digital media, etc. etc. etc. All in all, being employed as a contractor in the commercial graphic art field was one awesome ride over the years. But alas, one that was also nerve wracking in light of the constant overlapping streams of super critical deadlines. .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. So my wife, who is also a graphic designer and a typographer, and I ventured into a different, but oddly related industry in which I took advantage of my formerly developed set of skills in script work and coding. We started a web hosting company, at first to find a good “hosting home” for our ad agency clientele. Then, when this went into full bloom, I left the art field altogether. That is, except for the basic compositional skills which are useful in designing web sites, and putting together the banners, buttons and on-line ads needed therein. Except for this, my art skills went dormant for a good 6 years, that is, until I received that one email message. .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. The email was from a design agency in San Francisco, whose principal I worked with on the contract work for McGraw Hill. They needed a simple motion blur design for a book cover, and thus the whole art thing came back to life for me. .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Soon afterward we tooled up the shop for greatly added graphics processing power, together with some of the most magnificent art modeling and rendering software tools available. Then for first time in years, I got really busy with my art work, but this time it was different. .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Indeed, coming back after the six year layoff was an eye-opener to say the least. That was a little over a year ago, and as my loving and very patient wife knows, I’ve been more-or-less locked in the studio ever since, producing a variety of work, not on contract as before but rather with much more emphasis toward exactly-the-kind-of-work-that-I’ve-always-want-to-do. Yet, not exactly art-for-art's-sake, but pretty darn near. .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. So, how does one make a living at this sort of non-contract art endeavor? Hmmmmm, finding a wide-field for artwork application via product design, similar to what I had done for others for years, but this time going direct to market? Yes, but how? That is, how can this be done without investing big bucks to warehouse all the products and so on? Perhaps the answer is by taking advantage of the up-start POD market? Zazzle perhaps? .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. In any case, one thing's for sure. It's the genuine feeling I get after creating a new product, or a line of products for our Zazzle GalleryGifts store. Every time it just puts a big smile on my face -- I suppose the kind of smile that is similar to all those smiles I saw when I looked up in bewilderment from my Vase With Flowers drawing, all those many years ago. -----------------------

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"Hey thanks!"
Thanks very much for your comment. Yup, I'm sure my story is not all that uncommon. We all have barriers for sure. Seems like he best thing about them, is overcoming them. Perhaps this is the true role of adversity.
By Joseph Maas, 1/23/2012 about Harmony, by Joseph Maas
Hey thanks! After three months of solid work, we're actually 99.9% finished with our Zazzle site store at this time (currently working on about us and profile pages). We'll be starting the comment wall soon, so drop in when you get a moment and let us know what you think -- http://www.zazzle.com/gallerygifts/ Thanks again!
"Thanks!"
Hey thanks folks! After three months of solid work, we're actually 99.9% finished with our Zazzle site store at this time (currently working on about us and profile pages). We'll be starting the comment wall soon, so drop in when you get a moment and let us know what you think -- http://www.zazzle.com/gallerygifts/ Thanks again!
"Hey...."
Thanks folks. Really, thanks very much! We are a fraction away from finishing our Zazzle.com/GalleryGifts site and are quite excited about it.
"Hey!"
By Joseph Maas, 12/28/2011 about Recipe Binder - Sunny Day
Thanks again folks. This is my first experience with the Zazzle community and it is a good one. I'll be venturing out a bit more when we finally have our store complete. Cheers and happy new year all.
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