The time: the early 2000s. I was a fresh RISD graduate, back in my parents' house in Florida, when I read the following ad in the Classifieds of the Tampa Tribune (that statement's a time capsule in itself):
WANTED: Portrait Artist for Carnival Cruise Ships
Well, I had nothing else going on, I thought I'd give it a shot! After some training sessions with "the best portrait artist in the Walt Disney World complex", I was given my assignment aboard a ship (the...Destiny? Celebration?... hmmm) sailing from Miami to Jamaica, St. Croix, San Juan, & other exotic locales!
While the portraits themselves were rather cheesy (they were on velvet paper, after all), to this day I think it was an immensely valuable experience. I was drawing people! 8-12 hours a day, seven days a week! Mostly from photographs, but sometimes people wanted to sit for a live portrait, which was always a) fun, and 2) somewhat panic-inducing.
It WAS a cruise ship, I had to have some sort of celebrity portfolio! This was, if you can imagine, a time when Harry Potter was NOT a household name! The first movie hadn't been released yet, and when I dressed up as Harry for Halloween, barely anyone knew who I was.