Like many artists, I have always enjoyed being creative and “making things” since I was a young child. I grew up at a time when kids played outside every day and we had to rely on our collective imaginations to amuse ourselves. We had a lot of time to fill, especially during those hot, lazy summer days, and as a result, our lives were rich in fantasy play. Finding a refrigerator box that could be drawn on and reconfigured 4 different ways was a treasure that gave us days of creative fun.
Although I was always recognized as a budding artist as I was growing up, it wasn’t until I was awarded a Scholastic Art Scholarship to Syracuse University that I truly realized I had a vocation.
With my degree in Illustration, and a little travel under my belt, I set off to launch my career in NYC. I was freelancing at design studios, magazines, and publishing houses, with the intention of being an editorial illustrator. I was offered an opportunity to be an in-house designer for a “mug and home goods” company. It was an art position I didn’t even know existed at the time, and it changed the direction of my career.
The company produced a very wide-ranging product line, and before you knew it, I was creating art for all types of materials and surfaces. Many of my designs turned out to be great retail successes and I was encouraged to keep generating new ideas. Soon I was learning how to design products in 3D as well, along with the packaging.
It was a wonderful feeling – seeing my designed product prominently displayed in a big deal store, or piled high in the company warehouse, ready to ship, – awesome and humbling at the same time. And it was a big thrill to see my designs featured in the ”New & Noteworthy” section of the New York Times, even though no one ever knew my name.
I was having a lot of fun, and my career advanced, and soon I was part of the company’s buying team and traveling to the overseas factories and showrooms. By the time I relocated to LA, and took another Product Manager position, I was firmly entrenched in the business of product. I was still conceptualizing lines but I was no longer at the drawing board, my most important tool was my calculator.
As most people learn, Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Life happened to me. I got married and became a mom. I changed jobs. I really loved spending my weekends decorating, gardening, entertaining, and just being with family and friends.
But I was beginning to remember, all I ever wanted to be from the very start of my career was an illustrator. It had been a while since I referred to myself as an artist and I really missed making art. Ready to commit to my newly re-discovered dream, I picked up a paint brush again, and decided to go for it.
My life has changed dramatically since deciding I was an illustrator again. I create art in my home “studio” and I’m back playing outside everyday – this time with some funny and clever elementary kids, while managing a great after-school program. I can’t imagine doing anything else but what I’m doing right now. Being who I was always meant to be, being more Gail everyday. And always, always, staying open to the possibilities!GailMcClureRESUME2017