2007 April - Career Fuel2007 April - Career Fuel

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In This Issue:

Express Yourself
Destination: DC Comics
Internship? Mickey Ears Required.
Don’t Give Up!
Resource Corner

Express Yourself

April is an exciting month for 23 students from Watchung Hills Regional High School. These young men and women are exhibiting their art-everything from ceramics and painting to photography-all month at the Watchung Arts Center, a gallery in Somerset County that shows the work of professional and emerging artists.


Perhaps more impressive is that all 23 of these students, in grades 10 to 12, were recently inducted into the National Art Honor Society, which inspires and recognizes students around the country that have shown an outstanding ability in art and makes them eligible to apply for art-related scholarships. Admission to the National Art Honor Society is rigorous, requiring a strong academic record and recommendations.

Many of Watchung's aspiring Picassos are no doubt planning to pursue careers in art. If you think they are destined to join the Hungry Art society of struggling artists to make a decent living, then read on.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, artists held about 208,000 jobs in 2004, up from 147,000 jobs in 2000. A whopping 63% were self-employed, with the highest number of artists working as multi-media artists and animators, art directors and fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators. All these positions are expected to be highly competitive in the years ahead because lots of young people are choosing to pursue art as a profession. The Department of Labor cautions that craft and fine artists work mostly on a freelance or commission basis and may find it difficult to earn a living solely by selling their artwork. Only the most successful craft and fine artists receive major commissions for their work.

Not to dash your hopes! If being creative is your thing, then many would say you should find a way to channel that passion into a career. The happiest workers are those who are doing what they love. Perhaps you can find a practical application for your creative flair. Art directors, for instance, many of whom are also fine artists, work in a variety of industries, such as advertising, public relations, publishing and design firms. They were also making a median annual salary of $63,840 in 2004, compared to $38,060 for salaried fine artists. If you just can't picture yourself anywhere but behind the lens of a camera or face-to-face each morning with a blank canvas, find out about accredited college-level art programs that will help you take your skill and creativity to a higher level.

To read more about the career outlook for artists, visit www.njnextstop.org. Click on the "Show All" feature of the Lifeline column to access on expanded version of "Express Yourself!"

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Destination: DC Comics

After two years of working in a North Carolina picture frame factory just out of high school, Shane Davis packed his bag and headed north to Jersey and The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover.


Today, at 27, he has not only attained his dream, but that of countless artists of all ages. Shane is an exclusive artist for DC Comics, world-famous storytellers of the Dynamic Duo and other fiery heroes.

Growing up, Shane devoured Spiderman and all the comic books he could buy. He fell in love with line art and comic book drawing but he was not allowed to draw at home. "My father was against it," he says. "If he saw that I had that extra time, he thought I needed to be doing math problems. When my parents got divorced and I went to live with my mom, I started to study art."  

At 13, he began to follow his dream. Later, he drew cartoons and illustrations for his high school newspaper.

But the south, he says, is not a commercial market and art training is hard to come by. "I had to go to school somewhere else if I wanted to pursue an artistic job doing animation and figure drawing." He investigated many art schools, but chose The Kubert School he always saw advertised in the Marvel Comics he read as a kid. They offer two programs: cinematic animation from traditional through computer animation techniques and cartoon graphics for the comic book field and any print industry. "I always wanted to work on Spiderman as a kid. When I made the decision to draw comics after my first year at Kubert, pretty much everything in school was geared around comics."

He began interviewing and submitting work until DC Comics hired him. "I got hired to do a Robin issue as a fill-in," he says. He drew Spiderman and Hulk for Marvel Age. "It's just been one job after another as a freelancer. I did Nightwing and Wonder Woman. A job might last a month. It would be done and then I'd go find another job. I've tackled a bunch of American icons." Recently Shane signed an exclusive two-year contract to illustrate an eight-book series of Mystery in Space. "I can't work for anybody else. It's job security in the freelance world."                       

Being a good storyteller, says Shane, means "drawing superheroes fighting and an old lady walking down the street-and making it look interesting."

You can access an expanded version of this article online . Click on the "Show All" feature of the Real People column to find "Shane Davis."

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Internship? Mickey Ears Required.

M-I-C...See ya real soon...K-E-Y...Why? Because we can help prepare you for a career! Internships are a great way to test drive careers and learn valuable skills that can help you go far in the workforce. It's important to know that internships come in all shapes and sizes. For instance, imagine interning at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida for a semester. For one New Jersey college student, this creative kingdom offered career inspiration in Space Mountain proportions.

Julia Breland, a 2002 graduate of Hopewell Valley High School, can display Disney on her resume not only once, but twice. A small business management major at Mercer County Community College, Julia first learned of the Disney internships when the company handed out information and held a presentation at her college. She decided to apply, was interviewed and became one of 14 Mercer students chosen to work at Disney from January to May in the spring of 2004. She also participated in a second Disney internship from January to August a year later.

On her second internship, Julia worked on Main Street East in various retail positions, including at The Confectionary and the Uptown Jewelers. It was this land of baubles and bows that tapped both her creativity as well as her business sense. "I loved Uptown Jewelers because I'm trying to go into the jewelry business and open my own jewelry store," explains Julia. "I got very good experience there and was one of the top sellers." Julia, who already has friends lined up to help her design jewelry, says she plans to incorporate some ideas she learned at Disney into her own business.

The Disney internship, which pays $6.25 an hour, was not all work. Julia loved the experience of meeting lots of young people, interacting with the Disney characters and, of course, hitting the rides. Her Magic Kingdom favorite? Pirates of the Caribbean.

Read more about Julia's magic adventure at www.njnextstop.org. Click on the "Show All" feature in the Real People column to access an expanded version of "Julia Breland." 

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Don’t Give Up!

That is often the message if you want to make a living in the arts. You have to learn to accept the rejections along with the victories-and persevere. 

Elisa Baricelli, 18, says everything that happened to her is by luck. But don't believe it. Elisa, a hard-working woman seeking her passion, places herself smack in the way of opportunity. She chases her dream to find what she wants.

Elisa loves singing. "Singing has been my passion since I was very little," says the Hillsborough singer, songwriter and actress. Elisa started singing in church choir in first grade, took group singing lessons at Westminster Conservatory of Music, acted in community theater and did two years at Barbizon School of Modeling.

Her first break came in 2002 when she sang at her sister's birthday party and the DJ turned out to be a producer on the side. They wrote, produced and sold a CD on CD Baby, iTunes and Napster. Through a friend, her mom learned about Tony Camillo, a Grammy-award winning producer and brought him the CD. "You have what it takes to be a star," he told Elisa. "All we have to do is figure how to get you there." Camillo recorded her and sent a demo CD to Clive Davis, who sent Elisa a nice rejection letter, admiring her talent but referring to the current blitz of American idols.

But Elisa stands still for no one. She took acting lessons in New York, private singing lessons at Westminster and continued church choir. "It keeps my energy positive. If I were to sing for the rest of the world, I can sing for God, too," says Elisa. "Right now, all I can do is focus on making myself sound better and doing everything possible to make me the best me."

In 2004 Eliza represented the U.S. at the Gissoni Film Festival in Italy , then again in Hollywood -all because her grandmother knew someone who knew someone... a lesson in earnest networking. "I'm really lucky. All I'm doing is putting myself out there," she says.

Elisa continues recording, acting and modeling to make money while she attends Westminster Choir College in Princeton this year. "I'm keeping all my doors open and trying to get in somehow. I want to shine a positive light on the industry and show you don't have to change yourself for other people."

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Resource Corner

  • Read more about the Watchung Arts Center at www.watchungarts.org.
  • Discover details about the National Art Honor Society, started by the National Art Education Association, at  www.naea-reston.org/nahs.html
  • Want more career-related info from the Bureau of Labor Statistics? It's just a click away at www.stats.bls.gov
  • Although formal training is not strictly necessary for fine artists, it's difficult to become skilled enough to make a living without some training. For more information on The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, visit www.kubertsworld.com.  To find out more about the duCretSchoolof Arts in Plainfield , visit www.ducretartschool.com

  • Get the latest information on Disney internships at www.wdwcollegeprogram.com
  • It's music you crave? Then check out Westminster Choir College at www.westminster.com
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