We had the good fortune of connecting with Anthony Arvin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anthony, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
I disagree with the notion that you have to get a collage degree in order to be successful. In most fields, a degree will help you get your first job or two, but after that point, prospective employers are interested in your skills, your work ethic, and your savvy. Determine if you are going to be in a field that will require that expensive degree before going six figures into debt for something that may provides little return on investment. Whether you go to college or not, it is to your benefit to take courses which will help you further your career. All entrepreneurs need to understand bookkeeping. They may not do their own bookkeeping, but understanding the basics is imperative to being successful as an entrepreneur. It also helps to study a little bit of law, because businesses are governed by law, and it helps that you understand what those laws are and how they affect you. The disinformation concerning employee law is pervasive and ends up being very costly. Study as a means to an end… not as a hoop to jump through so that you can wave a sheepskin that won’t really benefit you in your future.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have had many careers over the last half-century but, outside of working for family, illustrating was my first real paying gig. I have had the good fortune to work all over the world–in many fields–but ultimately I have returned to my first love…illustrating. (Along with another life-long passion…writing) I might have never left illustration, but as technology improved, my specialty went the way of the typewriter…the need for my particular specialty simply evaporated. I had mad skills…but no need for my services. A teenager with photoshop could do in minutes what took days and hours to do by hand. In a very brief period of time, my skillset became an antique…and of little appeal to anybody. I offered a horse and buggy in a period when everybody wanted racecars. What is my skill? Recreating old photographs so that they looked great when printed on a printing press. If you look at print medium from hundreds of years ago, you will see all illustrations were pen and ink. Back then, if you wanted images in your publication, you had to create images with either engraving or pen and ink. Printing presses simply could not turn black ink into the various shades of gray that made up 95% of an image. Photographs showed up in the mid-1800s but was the early 1900’s before they could be printed on a printing press. (When half-toning was first used to replicate gray in the printing process) When I learned the skill, a half-century ago, publishers were able to print black and white photographs…no problem. But they did have a problem when the photographs that were supplied would not look good in print. In order to look good in print, photos need to have great contrast, sharp focus, and be clear of clutter, muddled backgrounds, scratches, tears, and damage to the photo itself. We could touch up photographs in the darkroom, but only minimally. If you wanted your publication to look professional, you needed better images. When it wasn’t possible to retake photographs…such is the case when the photos were a hundred years old, then you had to hire somebody who could recreate the photo in a format that showed up good in print, and had the fresh crisp image. That was my specialty, recreating historic black-and-white photos so that they looked just nearly as realistic as the original photograph, but with the contrasts, focus, and clean presentation (removal of distracting portions of the photograph). It is the love of nostalgia that has once again created an interest in the work of the old-time illustrators. No doubt there were still a few around when I got started in the 1970’s, but they were dying off. I was learning the skills as the need was beginning to die out. Now I am one of the few illustrators who actually worked in the field in the old days and the old ways…when pen-and-ink ruled the print world. Instead of resenting technology, I embraced it. I even had a career in high tech. I started out as a draftsman and worked my way up to vice president of a computer manufacturer overseas. I have worked on projects in many countries spread out over 5 different continents. When I retired from the corporate world, I rediscovered my love for illustrating. I began to realize that my understanding of technology could teach me things that helped me push my illustrating to levels we never even envisioned possible. My work still has a distinctly old-school feel to it, but it also has a Norman Rockwell vibe and level of realism.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My wife and I are not really city people…we are country people who work and live in the city. We are the picture-perfect bumpkins. We have become acclimated to the city, but we have mostly failed to achieve the sophistication one might expect from city dwellers. We both grew up so far out in the country that your nearest neighbor was a mile away, and a hunting trip actually took you towards town. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we have just never gotten comfortable in big crowds. Here locally, we never really got into the clubbing or trendy-restaurant scene, but that is okay because anybody dumb enough to ask us for advice about sightseeing is likely even less intellectually adept…so they are more likely to want to go to that infamous restaurant where cliff divers have corny shootouts and dive in the pool at the base of the waterfall. I am hesitant to mention the name because all my city friends act repulsed when I say I like the sopapillas… But I don’t mind because the grandchildren love it and our relatives are easily amused. Casa Bonita. There. I said it. Told ya we were bumpkin… On a more serious note, on occasion, we take guests to see the Colorado Rockies or Avalanche play. But when it comes to seeing live entertainment, we really trend more toward smaller crowds in venues like the club in the basement of the Clock Tower downtown or the Soiled Dove out at Lowry. We used to catch the occasional play downtown or concert at Fiddler’s Green, but that’s about it. It’s been a while since we’ve been to a concert. I’m not even certain that all of those places are even still in business anymore. It is a different world than it was just a year ago. Since our children grew up and moved away, we can no longer torment them by dragging them to see Styx for the umpteenth time, we so kind of lost interest in going to concerts. We were children in the ’60s and ’70s. We remember Elvis, Glen Campbell, and the Beetles, and did most of our big concerts before the phrase “hair bands” was even coined. Although we went to the occasional concert through our early fifties. It just isn’t the same when your rock idols look older than your grandpa…who died 40 years ago. Not surprisingly, the mountains and resorts are the main competition to the city, but again, our lack of sophistication shows. We love day trips to Estes Park or Silverthorn, but the sad fact is that we got busy with life and we have seen very little of Colorado. I started school right here in Colorado in 1966, but I have been to Hong Kong more times than I have been to Steamboat, Central City, Leadville, Telluride, and Vail combined. I’ve never even seen a concert at Red Rocks. I know…I should be ashamed. Trust me…I have heard that for most of my life, and the shame hasn’t made it happen yet. Since we have lived and worked all over the world, we have developed quite a wide interest in foods from many corners of the earth. Our favorites here are mostly small kitchens independently owned and operated. For Mexican food, we love La Fogata in a little shopping center on the north end of the Tech Center. Next to it is a Thai place called Tuk-Tuk that has killer Pad Thai. For BBQ we either go to Mile High Smokehouse in Englewood or to GQue in Park Meadows. For the best Mediterranean food, we are torn between the amazing food at “Jerusalem” on Evans by DU, and the fast-casual version served by CAVA at I-25 and Colorado. Colorado is like a breeding ground for great fast-casual dining, the most obvious being Chipotle, but Tokyo Joes and Garbanzos (that I believe all originated in Colorado) are favorites too. For Indian food, we love India’s Restaurant near Hampden and Yosemite.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Being a creative type is taxing on relationships, and nobody knows that better than my wife. I’d like to give her a shout out in recognition of her spending the last 40 years tolerating my wild ideas, crazy aspirations, and following me all over the world while I set about slaying my dragons.
Other: I’m not really into social media as much as I should be. For those wanting to see my illustrations, my website is the place to go.