It’s not every day that you get to win an art contest and go to college for free, but that’s the exact situation Logan Tharp found himself in when he was selected as the scholarship recipient of the 2014 Rend Lake College Student Art Show.
The Norris City-Omaha-Enfield High School graduate is a transplant to Southern Illinois by way of Las Vegas, Nevada. It was during his senior year at NCOE that Tharp heard about an opportunity to enter his art into a contest for a chance to win a two-year tuition waiver, a contest he went on to win.
“Honestly, it felt like it was a sign of what I needed to pursue in life. I was extremely excited. My mother was so proud she cried,” Tharp expressed.
During his time at RLC, Tharp focused primarily on his art, experimenting with numerous mediums and taking the opportunity to grow as a creator.
“People say if you do what you love for a living, you’ll never work a day in your life. The same goes for school. If you take classes that you love, you’ll never spend a day at school. This is how I felt about my art classes,” Tharp said.
“I really wanted to concentrate on art. It was an awesome experience that made me much more comfortable with the idea of pursuing art as my primary focus at the college level. I really enjoyed my classes. I learned a lot as an artist and made some great friends.”
After graduating with his associate degree, Tharp transferred to the University of Southern Indiana where he us currently studying Art Education. Outside the classroom, he has gone on to find success in the field, selling his art, illustrating books and teaching art classes to local students. The teaching component was a complete surprise. According to Tharp, he had never even considered the possibility until he was close to graduation.
“I have sold a number of small drawings to close people and gave a drawing to a television show. I have worked with glass, wood, cardboard, plaster, paint, pencils, ink pads, ink, clay, trees and wire. I have illustrated three books; one picture book named ‘Missing Max’ and two chapter books named ‘The Guardian’ and ‘Drake the Dandy’ all have been authored by Katy Newton Naas. Also, I have two more books lined up and a mural for a church to paint,” he explained.
Nass was one of Tharp’s high school teachers, and the young artist made an impression on her. She reached out to him and they continue to collaborate on projects. That networking opportunity had a powerful impact on Tharp’s artistic career.
“I don’t think students take advantage of networking with their instructors enough. Maybe they think it will increase their work load. But, I think it’s something that’s really important that everyone should take advantage of. You will regret what you don’t do, not what you do,” Tharp said.
As for his guidance to aspiring artists:
“My advice for artists is to never turn down an opportunity and always venture into new mediums.”
Tharp added that having a driving force is important, a source of inspiration that helps a creator persist through the tough times.
“A good portion of my motivation comes from Jessi Evans who is a friend of mine that I really looked up to when I first started to develop my art skills but sadly she had passed away. That was during my junior year of high school and ever since then, I have been inspired by her,” he explained.
For more information about Rend Lake College’s Art Program, contact the Liberal Arts Division at 618-437-5321, ext. 1263 or visit the college’s website, www.rlc.edu, and search “Art.”