Reflecting on the gallery’s five year anniversary.
Well, this photo is how it all started, 34 years ago. At age 4 I was painting at my little easel in my father’s studio … while he worked on portraits at his drawing board. I was so fortunate to tap into his brilliance and learn at such a young age. Some say artistic ability is inherited, which may be true. I also think it is the environment in which you are raised. All that I knew back then was that I really enjoyed creating. My father Conrad Moulton taught me the fundamentals of composition, perspective, color schemes, subject choices, etc. at a very young age.
Or did it all start in 1940 when my dad left Detroit and went to Parson’s in New York City on a full-ride to be an artist? Much to the chagrin of his father, who wanted my dad to be an accountant or something more practical, Conrad traveled the 614 miles to New York City and never looked back. In my grandfather’s mind, there was nothing worthwhile that could come from painting or drawing — certainly not a proper living. I would call my dad’s career as an artist a great success. Maybe not so much monetarily, but based on his production and his vision, it was assuredly a successful professional legacy.
Luckily, my parents did not discourage me from pursuing a similar career. They had a great appreciation for the arts, knew its importance, and told me to do what I loved and to hone my greatest skill.
So, I think where it all really began is my parents sacrificing so that I would receive the best education available. Their advice to be a well-rounded person, not just focused on one subject directed my choice of education.
I chose a liberal arts education that allowed me to take economics classes, African Politics, History, Psychology, etc. People often ask me when in my gallery, “What art school did you go to?”. I tell them I went to liberal arts schools so that I could do this as my profession. Surrounding myself with other artist hopefuls was not my plan. I wanted to make it work as a lifetime career.
I knew, however, if I were to succeed on this path, I would not be able to lean on weekly illustration jobs from advertising companies like my father did. That type of art died with the easier/cheaper/faster use of photography and computer-generated images. I would have to find another way. But I knew for sure that I would dedicate my life’s work to being an artist, put everything I had into it. I had to, it’s what I was meant to do.
So, now it has been five years since taking the jump to owning my own storefront gallery in Chicago. I remember that late night lying in bed, tossing and turning thinking to myself “I have to do this. I need to take it to the next level”. Our daughter Jackson was a one-year-old, and I had been painting from home for six years. Clients would show up during her naps so they could see and buy my work. I would take them down to the dingy basement to see the rest of my framed prints. They may not have minded, but I knew I needed something more professional … And at this point I deserved it and earned it after those six grinding years. I was concerned about taking on the extra overhead of rent on a gallery space, more inventory, and everything else that came along with having a gallery space. I had been doing very well without it, despite the economic belt-tightening from 2007-2011.
I am usually a very careful person. I try to make decisions based on whether or not they are smart or likely to succeed. So, opening my own gallery space was not something at which I planned to fail. I knew it went against most people’s popular opinion of something that could be successful. I’ll admit, there are very slow times … and very good times. I would consider that something that happens to every business. But there is one thing I know for sure, if things were not going to work out, it would have happened a long time ago. My work is being snatched up by people around the world. I enjoy painting every day. I walk around constantly seeing life as possible paintings.
I have to thank my family for all of their support. My wife Ariana, daughters Jackson and Carter. My mother and sister… and my in-laws Gary and Wendy. Thank you for appreciating and encouraging me. To my friends and customers thank you for purchasing my work and spreading the word. I really think the keys to success are loving what you do, being driven every day to go to work and do it without distractions, exposure, and the quality of the work. The rest should take care of itself.
Thank you. These five years have been so rewarding. I am very lucky and plan on living this dream for the next 40-50 years. I hope you’ll live it with me. I have the perfect piece for that one wall in your home or office.