I created this art for the trotter in 2001. But there is the story behind it.
It all started after I graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 1986. I left Goshen to work in New York City. I was one of the Art Directors for a small ad agency on 23rd street. It was an awful job, full of micromanaging and approvals not art or graphic design.
One day on my way home from work, I knew I had to do something to take my mind off my day job. I created an illustration that I put on a tote bag. I placed space ads in horse magazines for the Christmas season that year. It was 1989.
That fall, I sold about $1000 worth of tote bags. I was completely hooked and I have had this business for 30 years now. It has evolved over the years from T-shirts to self-publishing horse books in the 1990 and early 2000s and then on to stickers of all sorts and greeting cards...all using my artwork, design, illustrations or photography.
But even before that, in the early 1980s, I was in between colleges. I had taken a few years off and worked at many of the Standardbred horse farms we had here. I worked at Bar Lyn Farms which was that yellow farm on 17A on the way to Warwick. I also worked at Stony Ford Farms on Stony Ford Road. (In fact, my boss had to hire 2 1/2 people to take my place when I left.)
A funny aside, while I was working at these horse farms, I did some freelance work at night. I was a sign painter for the Historic Track as well as many businesses in the area, including the old Chadwick Motel. I also was going to start a small ad agency. I talked to my father and said, "Dad, I think I don't have to go back to college. I am going to start an ad agency." He said, "You're going back. I don't care where you go, you're going!"
So I decided to go to art school. I applied to Rhode Island School of Design by staple gunning my drawings to our barn and taking pictures of the art. I never in a million years thought I would get in. It is a very prestigious school. All my life, I was a doodler, I would doodle on the side of my homework, doodled on receipts, anything. I never sat down with a set of oil paints and painted. I doodled.
So my thought was, if I don't get in. I will start that ad agency.
So a few months later, at Stony Ford Farms, I had just turned a mare and foal out. It was July, I was hot, sweaty and tired. I heard a loud roar from the driveway to the barn. I turned to see my mother in her broken-down old Peugeot with muffler problems driving way too fast up the dirt driveway. The dust billowed out as she sped. The turned out horses in paddocks where galloping away from the noisy monster.
She came to a screeching halt in from of me and jumped out waving a 9 x 12 envelope from RISD. We had been told a rejection came in a #10 envelope and an acceptance came in a 9 x 12. My life changed at that moment.
Anyway, back to the Standardbreds. The Standardbred is a different looking horse than a Thoroughbred or Morgan. It has a more regal, almost old fashioned head. His body is longer than the usual horse. While I was working at these farms and while I was filling a water bucket or sweeping an aisle, I would watch the horses pass by me or eat their hay in their stalls. I would absorb their unusual and sleek look.
When I started my business, I created all kinds of products to sell. Around 1995, I started selling products to the Harness Racing Museum gift shop. Joan Van Blarcom was the gift buyer at the time.
When I would cruise the gift shop, I would look at the artwork of Standardbreds and no one was capturing the real beauty of this horse.
So I created the work you see above. I sketch out the horse with pencil on layout paper. I will work it over and over again, until I get the legs, proportions and dimensions absolutely perfect. Then I scan it into the computer, clean it up and fill it in with black in Photoshop. (Before Photoshop, I would use a stat house. Anyone remember?)
A few years ago, Janet Terhune Director at the Harness Racing Museum, who had been buying my stickers and things for the gift shop asked if I would let my work be used as the silhouette for the Goshen Painted Trotters. I immediately was honored. And I am excited to see my horses all over Goshen so beautifully cut out and designed by local artists.
Take a peak at my work. Thank you so much!