Scott Mikesh, President and Executive Director of Art Buddies/Creatives for Causes
I believe in the old adage of follow your heart and do what you love. That’s not to say you’ll always get paid for it, but often what you do get is more rewarding than cash, and can lead to something greater. My lifelong passion has always been to help others succeed and find happiness, especially children, and finding ways to use art and creativity to do it. When I was a kid, I wanted to become a cartoonist and/or Disney animator to create cartoons and comics that made people laugh while teaching important life lessons about friendship, love and kindness. I would draw for hours, and created hundreds of cartoon characters and storylines inspired by the cartoons I loved (and still love today!). When it came to choosing my career path, though, and paying my way through college to get there, the pragmatic side of me took over. I didn’t want to end up deeper in debt than I could afford, pursuing a job that didn’t pay very much and would require me to move far away. This was just as the Internet was developing and digital animation was a cool new thing. So instead, I majored in social psychology, mass media communications, and Web design. After that, I worked in marketing and communications for 13 years, writing, designing, and promoting wellness and diversity initiatives for a health care company. I loved it, but about mid-career, I wanted to get back to my roots of helping kids through the power of art and creativity. My time and energy was consumed mostly by work, and I wasn’t drawing or creating like I once had. That’s when I discovered Art Buddies. I volunteered as a mentor for 5 years and met lots of creative professionals who were pursing their creative passions independently – as freelance designers, writers, and photographers – to name a few. The people I met inspired me to take a leap of faith and pursue my creative passion independently as well. So in 2010, I left my corporate job and started my own interactive design and illustration business, providing Web content development and commercial illustration for various clients while dabbling in comics. During that time, I also got more involved in Art Buddies leadership – helping double the size of the program. So when the founder stepped down in 2012, I applied for her position. In 2013, after several rounds of interviews, I was thrilled to be hired as the new President and Executive Director of Art Buddies, and it’s been a tremendous honor and rewarding experience. Art Buddies is now 20 years old, and I am thrilled to help keep this amazing one-on-one mentor program going and growing to help hundreds of kids each year discover what they can do and who they can become through the power of creativity.
Photo credit for photos provided: Doug Knutson Photography