I can't believe I let my mom curl my hair for Junior High picture day. I was quickly nicknamed mushroom head, and sometimes atomic bomb hair. But from this embarrassment came creativity as I spent a lot of time hiding in my house drawing and creating stuff, mostly about dogs.
A few years later adolescent disaster struck again. I grew a big wart just on the inside of my nostril. It was perfectly placed to look like a hanging booger. People tried to help by pointing it out so I could take care of it. It was very noticeable and I spent a lot of time telling people that it was only a wart. So teenage catastrophe proved once again to be inspirational. I named my wart Herbert Herkermeyer and published my first title.
I stayed away from taking art in high school because, for some reason, I thought if you had to look at something to be able to draw it, it was cheating. While pursuing a Business/Econ degree my parents encouraged me to take a college art class. My Junior year I finally did ... and the first day we drew while looking at a still life. It wasn't cheating! In that same class I remember looking at a really cool highly-designed poster and thinking Whatever job gets to do THAT is what I want to do. I don't even think I knew the term Graphic Design. I did finish my business degree but also pursued a degree in art. When I talk to school groups, I like to tell this story because most of us get some weird road-blocking thoughts.
I spent the next 30 years, first working for a mid-sized marketing firm, then moving to rural Eastern Oregon and freelancing. During art school I dreamed about designing exhibits for Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) but I didn't want to live in the big city of Portland. So I was beyond thrilled to spend 6 years as Art Director/Exhibit Designer for Wallowology! a small natural history discovery center 7 miles from my house.
After my youngest flew the nest I started thinking about dipping my toes into fine art. In the past when I entertained the thought, I floundered because I could not commit to a style or direction. Many styles of art I saw, I wanted to try. I couldn't get over the idea (drilled into my head by the illustration industry) that I needed to pick one style, perfect it, and be known for it.
To deal with this “problem," in 2019 I came up with a project: Wallowa Lake 55x55. By the time I turn 55 years old (August 2022), I will have created 55 pieces of art of varying styles and mediums, all relating to Wallowa Lake. Close to the month of my 55th birthday, Josephy Center of Arts & Culture in Joseph, Oregon, will hold an art show for this project and these 55 pieces. I am not under any delusion that I will end up with 55 pieces of brilliance. Rather, I aim for this display to simply show the path, struggles, and successes of an artist. And I’m hoping at this point to have found a style or two on which to concentrate.