A Young Artist, and a Parent’s Lesson

Category: Weekly Columns

All parents hope to nurture the talents of their children, but usually they hope it’s a talent they share or one they’d always dreamed of for themselves. This is often a first test for a parent. It sure was for me. I expected that with two boys, I’d be coaching them in all the intricacies of every sport I loved. Instead, with my oldest, I was left coaching the baseball team after he quit it.

Fortunately, I began supporting their passions, and it provided equal joy for me, less stress for them, and ultimately made for a happier home. My oldest pursued music, specifically rock ‘n’ roll, with a vengeance upon getting a $99 electric guitar as a birthday present.

My youngest demonstrated artistic ability from his crib, when he carved Michelangelo’s “David” in one of the four posts with his nails. Okay, I’ve exaggerated slightly. It was just a detailed Greek column, but he was a young artist.

Supporting the respective passions of the boys ultimately turned out to bring me the same joys and shared experiences I had “planned” on had the boys become my tennis and ski buddies. That, of course, is the irony of planning. As the saying goes, “We plan, God laughs.” In my case, my planning didn’t pan out, but life panned out even better. Luck? I don’t know or care; I’m just grateful that I wasn’t that parent who forced his kids to take lessons they didn’t want to take or pursue a sport they hated.

My older son became a truly talented musician, first on the guitar, later on drums, then bass, vocals, and also a little on piano. He performed in several different settings and attending those shows was as much of a kick than watching any sporting event I could have imagined. The big day, however, I missed, when he talked his way on stage with his idol, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and AudioSlave and actually did a duet with him at a charity benefit acoustic concert at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood.

I was able to procure the video, promoted it, and got to vicariously enjoy that special moment. You can see Arnie Sallan here on YouTube.

My younger son, the artiste, went to art school and it was not as easy to participate in his passion, though we’d attend his occasional “art show.” However, an interesting idea came to me when I started the new Web site, BoomerTechTalk.com, with my partners Linda Sherman Gordon and Ray J. Gordon.

As this site was designed to be a source of help for the “technically challenged,” I thought it would be great fun to have a special comic strip devoted to that notion.

My son, Aaron Sallan, had become a big fan of manga, the Japanese comic books that are so ubiquitous in Japan and very popular here, as well. He even visited Japan and several manga studios with his step-mom a year ago and has dreams of being a professional cartoon artist someday. Aaron went to the famous Studio Ghibli museum, which is the museum of the great film director Hayao Miyazaki’s animation masterpieces. At the Kyoto International Manga Museum, a professional manga artist gave Aaron a private art lesson. He came home thoroughly impressed and inspired.

I pitched him the idea of creating a comic strip, for BoomerTechTalk. As teens often do, his first instinct was to roll his eyes and give me “that look.” But, I’ve learned to let it go, knowing that he might come back to me later with something like, “Dad, I’ve been thinking about that…”

And that is exactly what happened. Pretty soon, it was his idea. How perfect. He, indeed, came up with the name for the comic strip, taking it from an old column of mine called, “It’s a Tech World After All.” Wow, talk about making his old many feel great!

What followed was an interesting artist/boss struggle and relationship that mirrored situation that I had in my former showbiz life, only this time I was “the man” giving the notes and Aaron was the “artist” railing against “the system.” If we weren’t family, it would have been very funny.

During this phase, we did have some times when each of us was ready to throw in the towel. But, we worked through it. I enlisted Ray Gordon to mediate and communicate these concerns to Aaron. We reached an uneasy truce, détente, and now honorable peace.

Ray also helped with advice on the comic pacing of the strips and a few suggestions on how to illustrate some of the concepts. Ray taught design courses as an associate professor at Pratt Institute’s Graduate Programs, so he had a lot of experience communicating design concepts to talented creative students.

BoomerTechTalk.com debuted on October 5, 2010 and “It’s a Tech World After All” was right there, prominently along with many of the other features of the site. I was definitely more excited than Aaron. Until…

Its a tech world after all by Aaron Sallan, young artist

Until I had the honor of having Stan Lee, Stan “The Man” Lee of Marvel Comics fame, as my guest on my radio show. I’ve known Stan for decades, from my former life in showbiz. After the show, I asked him, as a favor to me, to check out Aaron’s new comic strip and, if he liked it, to leave him an encouraging comment.

Comment from Stan Lee

Not only did Stan leave just such a comment, but he also sent Aaron a personal e-mail praising his efforts. It doesn’t get much better than that for a young 14-year-old boy, hoping to some day make it as a manga artist. If you’d care to read Stan’s comment and/or add your own, here’s the link to the first “It’s a Tech World After All,” the one that Stan commented on. Visit BoomerTechTalk.com and look at all of Aaron’s “It’s a Tech World After All” comic strips as well as the other very cool features of the site. And, maybe learn the lesson I learned: support your kid’s passions rather than your own!

Please listen to “The Bruce Sallan Show – A Dad’s Point-of-View” Thursdays at 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., PST on KZSB AM1290 in Santa Barbara or on the Internet via a live stream. For that link and all information about the show and Bruce, visit his web-site: http://www.brucesallan.com. Bruce created and launched a new Web site for those who would like Tech help, called BoomerTechTalk. Bruce’s column, “A Dad’s Point-of-View,” is available in over 100 newspapers and Web sites worldwide. Find Bruce on Facebook by joining his “A Dad’s Point-of-View” page. You can also follow Bruce at Twitter.