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Meet Lanny Markasky

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lanny Markasky.

Lanny, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I believe the momentum to become an artist began the day I was born into a family of artists and musicians. I couldn’t draw to save my life when I was young, but I was always immersed in creative activities. At nine years old, I fell in love with break dancing, and the hip hop culture led me to graffiti, which in time helped me realize my passion for the visual arts. Art school was life-changing for me, and helped me understand the difference between drawing a pretty picture, and creating work that really says something. Even while I was in school and had to pay rent, I was determined to avoid working a typical, mundane type of job. I made my living performing breakdance shows at the Santa Monica pier, and doing tattoos out of my apartment.

After receiving my BFA in Illustration from CSULB, I made the move to NYC with my girlfriend to find a way to make it as an artist. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to find my way. I was thrown into a world that moves a thousand miles a minute, with triple the rent to pay, and opportunity and motivation around every corner. I tried a lot of different things but eventually found my place, storyboarding for live-action in the advertising and film industry. Aside from work, I also found some great places to study, like the Art Students League and Chelsea Classical Studios, where I met some amazing teachers who helped to shape my path as an artist. About six years later, I’m now living in Massachusetts, working as a storyboard artist and educator, in the middle of a pandemic. I can’t leave the house, but luckily I have the two loves of my life here, my wife, and our new baby girl.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t think any road worth taking is smooth. It’s the struggles that we learn from, and that makes us appreciate how far we’ve gotten and what we’ve overcome. Transitioning from a college graduate to a working professional was a struggle that I’ll never forget, and that gives me real appreciation for where I’ve come. After college, I moved to NYC with my girlfriend, with my heart absolutely set on making it as an artist and finding a real job in the industry. Every day I would apply to at least 40 different studios, and then as many craigslist posts as I could. I almost never heard back from the studios, and all of my success seemed to be coming from Craigslist. If every day I applied to, say, 100 job postings, I might end up getting two or three of them. This got me enough jobs to work about 12-14 hours a day, and to make barely enough to pay rent each month. I remember I had one day every week where I let myself go all out and buy a six dollar burrito for lunch, the rest I stuck to my three dollar sandwiches.

What made this time so hard for me was having no end in sight. I was working as hard as I could, as many hours as I could, barely getting by, and for all I knew this could be the next 20 years of my life. It’s times like this that make you doubt yourself. What if I never make it? What if I’m not good enough? What if I’m forced to give up on my dreams to make a living? As scary as it was, I believed in myself, I had an amazing girlfriend who supported and believed in me, and I knew that if I continued to work as hard as I could, it had to be a matter of time before something happened for me. Sure enough, after nine months of living like this, I got repped by a storyboard agency, and overnight I went from having no end in sight to living my dream.

Please tell us more about your art.
I work primarily as a storyboard and concept artist in the advertising and film industry. Essentially, I work with directors to take their scripts and ideas, and draw a series of illustrations that represent each shot. Storyboards usually act as a kind of blueprint for a film, or to pitch an idea to a client. I love storyboarding because not only am I able to make a living pursuing my love of figurative, narrative, drawing and painting, but the vast subject matter and tight deadlines give me even greater motivation to keep learning, and to grow as an artist. I’ve also been moving more into the education side of art, and I started to teach storyboarding online with a school called CG Master Academy. Then I came up with the idea of bringing more art education into the tattoo industry, getting my first book published this year, Mastering Realism, and starting my own online school, www.masteringrealism.com.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I believe the absolute most important quality, and the reason for all of my success, is I love what I do. This one idea is the driving force behind everything else I do, and every decision I make. I see too many people choosing a path based on money, or looking simply at the end goal, but without an actual passion for the journey. When you love what you do, you’re going to work harder at it than anyone else, and you’re going to excel in it much faster. You’re going to talk about it more with people, make more connections, and most importantly, people will see your enthusiasm and it will open doors. Aside from that, just being confident in yourself, conducting yourself as a professional, being a likable person, and to never stop learning.

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