This life can take you into places where you never expect to tread. Many people contact me and ask how I planned this web page and the expressions within it. They can’t believe it when I tell them that I stumbled unto doing this in what seemed like chance to me but now I know it’s a bit more of divine intervention.
It all started for me again artistically in August of 2001 while taking a four month corrections certifications academy that at times bordered on boring. When it got to this point I noticed many of my fellow classmates would discreetly doze off to sleep while others only acted as though they were interested but wished to heck that they were somewhere else. My way of dealing with it was to doodle on the edge of my work binder.
I love faces.
So I would look around the room and had so many expressions and features to choose from to draw. I would really get the subject in great detail if they were sleeping. I often would render them in a comical manner and after a short time the entire class was in on my secret pastime. It got to the point where my buddies would hide their faces when I had a pen in my hand. They knew what fate had in store for them if they were caught with their guard down!
By the time the course was almost over I was asked to draw a fundraiser tee shirt design so the class could sell it to raise money for the graduation. I agreed to it and was flattered that I was considered good enough for the task. It turned out well but I noticed after the graduation was over that a few local gun shops and specialty stores were STILL selling the tee shirts with the design that I donated. Someone was still making money off of my talent!
This sparked something off inside of me.
Why should I be exploited without reaping the benefits of my own hand. I chose not to let it bother me but from that point on I knew that I had a shot at lining my own pockets and sharing a message through my art. Once I began to work on that particular job, the word spread fast about my ability as many would come around and we would have fun doing different caricatures and pictures of co workers and supervisors. A wonderful way to pass the night away but what I didn’t realize at the time was the foundation that was being set for the next level to come.
A few of the caricatures of mine found their way onto the Internet as well as my e-mail address. Once that started happening I decided to post a few pictures up of mine on an AOL Homepage that came with the AOL account that I had at the time. The “in your face” radical style and message of my work inspired many and angered a few.
Requests for drawings started to come in and I didn’t quite know what to think of it.
How do I charge? Could I really make extra money doing something that I love on a larger scale? There seemed to be a demand for what is was that I did. It was an empowering feeling indeed and one that was also very intriguing because the overwhelming majority of individuals that I communicated with were very positive and encouraged me to feel very confident in myself. My homepage got to be so popular that I repeatedly received many hate e-mails and even some threats on my life! WOW!
That was a rush!
I asked myself could I affect a person that much with a pen and a pencil that they would have to threaten my life? It must be something powerful in these creations of mine and the message contained that would trigger off such a response. And it also was funny because coming from a city were the threat of violence or something happening was a constant companion in your daily routine enabled me to brush off any threats and carry on my new found passion.
It got to the point were many people who couldn’t accept my rights to free expression complained to AOL and eventually canceled me from ever doing business with them again! Not one to be phased by such happenings, I was inspired. WHY? Because from the way I see it, my page was not controlled by anyone except me, financed by me, worded by me and adorned with my art!
I pledged within myself that once I started this that I would always remain true to myself and tell it like it is. I never knew thousands upon thousands of my own people as well as others would “feel” what I was doing. So what if AOL allowed nudity and profane language to go unrestricted in their members profiles? THAT was acceptable to them but a Black man speaking his mind about the issues that the oppressors feel we are not to be concerned with is NOT!
Well too bad!
I was now at a point where I was ready to take out my own full fledged web site! Their attempt to silence what I was doing only open doors for me and made me even more determined to excel! So I in it’s infancy I put it out there: ScurvOriginalz , “Urban Art That Reflects The Realities Of Black Life!” I wanted NO doubt as to what this site was all about. I wanted one to feel as though it was a place were we could go and see expressions that we can identify with without having to explain or quell what we feel. Most sites that even came close to my vision were watered down and almost always for profit only.
Yes, while I want to make money like the next struggling artist, I also wanted to put my passion and soul into this thing so that one would have a sense of my true personality, something that is sadly lacking online for everyone especially in the Black community. Also, the beauty of having it independent from any other interest is that it cannot be controlled by anyone who doesn’t approve of it’s contents. Nor could I ever compromise my views….this has been an issue with me all of my life. You go to work on these jobs and while others can express their opinions without fear of retribution, we as black people usually take the silent road because if we truly spoke what was on our minds half of us would be unemployed!
No matter HOW much progress many say that we have made, we still do not have the luxury of letting it all hang out without pissing somebody off that holds the power of hiring you or firing you.
But the beauty of this is that I can’t fire myself!
I know that irks many of my old hatin’ bosses who keep tabs on me by peepin’ this site, but it’s true and TOO BAD for you if you don’t like it! LOL! Many suggested that I look for work as an editorial cartoonist at any of the local or national periodicals. I researched that and came up with statistics that let me know that it would be a dead end road to pursue. In the United States alone, only eighty editorial cartoonists ( At the time of this writing and that number is dropping fast!) make a full time living out of it out of all of the thousands of magazines and newspapers out there.
And would I want to compromise my views on the issues literally prostituting my talents for a few dollars?
My Black soul wouldn’t thrive under that kind of arrangement. So I dove into an incubation period of silently surveying what my options were and possess a much more defined view on what my best opportunities would be. And although I am somewhat still in this process and am not rushing myself or what God has in store for me, I have been pleased to meet so many wonderful people out here that have reinforced my vision and have truly been an inspiration to my heart.
Contact Lance Scurvin At [email protected]
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