My first ever professional experience drawing people from life occurred in 1994, in Cremona, Italy. Back then I was long on inspiration, but short on technique! Then I wound up a decade-long detour, focusing on painting with airbrush in a photorealistic style.

But in 2005, I found myself living only blocks away from Busch Gardens, Tampa, a big theme park with a retail caricature concession. Here was my chance to finally get serious about this! So I began moonlighting there, while working as a computer graphics (Photoshop and Illustrator, etc.) instructor at a local design college.

Drawing a baby in 2005 at Busch Gardens, Tampa

This was a "full-immersion" education. You learn to draw fast in the retail setting. On busy days you draw non-stop for hours on end, building endurance. The noise of the crowds, folks pushing to get a closer look at what you're doing—it trains you to focus and block out distractions. Within a few months my drawings were improving considerably. Central Florida has the highest concentration of theme parks in the US, providing opportunities to learn from many of the best retail caricaturists in the country.

One day an artist at Busch Gardens asked me to draw with him at a wedding reception, which soon led to other gigs. Then I secured my first booking agent and things started to take off.

With my friend Elgin, at the 2006 National Caricaturists Network convention.

In mid 2013 I moved to Phoenix, Arizona, full of renewed inspiration. Since then I've had the pleasure of working with some very talented Phoenix caricature artists. And while I love to create art digitally, nothing compares to the immediacy of drawing people from life. I'm continually improving at this unique form of art and entertainment.