Art comes first at The First Academy….

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Okay, look, the Parhams are artists. We don’t even really tolerate Sports in my house, as strange as that may seem to most people on planet Earth. So when my daughters’ school, The First Academy, sends out booster fund letters, and try out schedules for the various sports teams, I just groan. TFA happens to be really good at sports in it’s division, and I’m proud of the student athletes I know, but still… it’s sports. Ugh. However, an interesting thing has been happening at TFA the last couple of years… more and more graduating seniors are going on to further education in… wait for it.. the ARTS. Woo hoo! Something like 28% of them last year! NOW we’re talking! So, last year I decided to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and start helping out in the Arts a bit at TFA. I became a substitute art teacher.

Yep, that’s my “self toon” on the big ‘ol white board in the HS art room, introducing myself to my students for the day. Now I HAVE taught before; I did private cartooning lessons for kids for a few years, and taught a few after school cartooning courses at some local Catholic schools. But it’s been awhile. As in probably ten years or more. So, yeah, that makes most of my former students in their mid to late twenties. Some in their thirties. Dear Lord. That just made me feel really old. 
Okay… moving on…
Growing up in South Carolina back in the 70s and 80s, I would’ve given ANYTHING to even know, much less MEET and be TAUGHT BY a professional cartoonist. So, that’s why I decided to do this at TFA at this point in my life. I do it when I can fit it in my schedule, in hopes I can inspire some future artists, by showing them that art can be a very real and viable profession for them. You CAN make a living doing art. You don’t have to be a starving artist, if you just work at it.

I’ve taught now at TFA just two or three times, as I didn’t get started in it until after Christmas this past year, and my schedule as usual was crazy busy. But each time I did, I was impressed. By the school, by the kids, and by the fellow teachers. 

 Hey, I’m a likeness based cartoonist ( aka caricaturist), so OF COURSE I had to draw some of my students!

All types here, just like “The Breakfast Club”, but all great young people.

And we’ll end on this guy… I grabbed a large pad of paper and sketched Kyle my first day subbing. I had noticed he was a talented cartoonist in his own right, so I felt I just had to draw him. Little did I know that a few months later he and another TFAer would start working with my company, drawing caricatures at Disney.

The school year at TFA is just beginning again, and I look forward to teaching and inspiring there some more this year…

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