I wish you could have been there the moment Disney Master Artists Kevin-John showed us a little glimpse of one of his latest projects for Walt Disney World Art Galleries as part of the 2018 Epcot International Festival of the Arts. As soon as he unveiled it, there was a collective gasp of awe from our group. Just suffice it to say, if you are a Disney lover, you will want a copy of it!
I had the privilege to spend time with Kevin-John as part of the 2017 Glamping Blogger Retreat, and while he infused joy and energy into our day, I’m not being compensated in any way to share my thoughts with you.
What is a Disney Master Artist?
Kevin-John is currently under contract with the Walt Disney Company to create Theme Park exclusive art for the Walt Disney World Art Galleries. Which basically means that Kevin-John gets a creative spark about a piece of art – like his Infamous Hatbox Ghost from Haunted Mansion. Kevin-John then pitches the idea to Disney, (or sometimes vice-versa) and after a few back and forths regarding the idea, he is given the go-ahead to move forward with the piece. Some of his work is produced into prints while others are sold as originals exclusively in Disney Art galleries.
Six Life Lessons
While Kevin-John’s art is captivating, especially for a Disneyphile such as myself, it is perhaps Kevin-John’s life story that I found most inspiring. Over and over again, as he shared his story with us, I kept thinking, “this guy has some inspirational nuggets of wisdom that others need to hear!” So, without further ado, here are six life lessons from a Disney Master Artist…
Use your liabilities to your advantage.
“Kevin-John Purple” became Kevin-John’s signature color because…he is color blind! Yes, that’s right. A person who’s career focuses on producing color images is color blind. Kevin-John realized that if he started his images with a base of, what is now called Kevin-John Purple, he could then make out other colors. It has now become a signature of his art!
Kevin-John is quick to give credit and gratitude to people like his seventh grade art teacher who saw potential in him and pushed him to work hard at developing his artistic skills. And he is proud to say that he pours over documentaries, books, articles, and the like about Walt Disney, a man he never met but yet from whom he has learned about perseverance, business, and of course, creative story-telling.
From the time we was a budding artist in Erie, Pennsylvania, Kevin-John realized the power of collaboration. His first big break came from building relationships with the organizers of “First Night Erie” arts festival and his work with Disney began in much the same way. Likewise, his newest adventure, Legend Cove Trading Company, is a brilliant collaboration with Houston Tucker, whom Kevin-John dubs the “Roy Disney” to his “Walt.”
Kevin-John reminded us you don’t have to be the best at something if you build relationships along the way that provide checks and balances and opportunities for growth. And as I expected, Kevin-John didn’t hesitate to show gratitude for the partnership of his fellow collaborators!
Find your niche.
Kevin-John admits that he is not the most talented artist around, but he knows what people will buy and he knows how to make that work for his art. You don’t have to do anything the same as the person next to you – it’s the spice of life if nothing else! Deciding what you are good at, or even what you want to be good at, and then going for it is the key to success and happiness.
Kevin-John shared that he was taught early on to “never say no” when it comes to giving back. He believes it is good for the soul and good for the community. And he admits it can be a source of valuable relationships, like meeting a Pittsburg Steeler football player at a charity event. That relationship eventually led Kevin-John to work with ESPN, which eventually led to his current work with Disney. Whether it is working with charities to support their fund-raising efforts or it’s nurturing the gifts of others, Kevin-John doesn’t hesitate to give back – anything that may come from that is gravy, he says.
Kevin-John’s parting words of wisdom to us were pretty clear: create things you like on what is currently blank space. Don’t be afraid to go for what you want – work hard, make friends, and never stop progressing! Sounds a little like Walt’s wisdom, don’t you think?