From 1997 through 2006, for 13 weeks each summer I traveled all over Long Island and New York City drawing in different towns, parks, zoos, festivals and historical sites. It was known as Location and it provided me a needed creative outlet, taught me how to present and critique and, most importantly, I learned how to not take feedback personally.

Location, led by Jeff Fisher, a 20 year independent Illustrator, met every Sunday morning at 8. Rain or shine, hung over or sober we, the 20+ students ranging from seniors in high school to professionals visiting for the day to sketch met every Sunday at that dirty, hot and empty Dunkin Doughnuts parking lot in Smithtown NY. By 8:30 we were on our way to anywhere from the Central Park or the Renaissance Festival in Sterling NY to the Planting Fields in Oyster Bay, Long Island or the Shark competition in Montauk, the furthest east you can go on the Island. Wherever it was, a motley crew would spread out and draw all day. Literally, all day.

Arriving back at Dunkin Dougnuts by 6pm would be considered an early day. This is when “class” would begin. Up to this point it was just hanging out with friends enjoying our passion—drawing all day. Critiquing the work of 20+ students done over the 10-12 hours we were out was no quick process but definitely the most important. This was time to learn how to present, how to steal, how to give feedback and how to receive it. It was by the far the best part of the day. Don’t get me wrong, critiquing for up to 4 hours after a 10 hour day of drawing in the summer sun sucked at times but, if you could focus, the reward of what you could learn form your friends and peers was invaluable.

Without being a part of this creative group, a group that became my good friends to this day, I would not have the maturity or thick-skin that has allowed me to succeed so quickly in my career today.

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