When I was 5 years old, I already knew I was an artist. I went to an all all-academic girls high school, but we could major in art. If we committed to going to art school after we graduated, we could take 10 art classes a week; otherwise, we were limited to taking five. My mother said I could take art classes but had to have something to fall back on. 

So I went to the University of Chicago for college, which did not have an art program. I was so miserable at Chicago because I was not making or studying art. Two of my best friends took me to the courtyard of the dorms for a private talk. They told me I had a choice—either I would apply to art school or they would shoot me. To this day, I don’t think they were kidding. So I applied to art school.

During and after college, I supported myself as a graphic artist. After college. I started working with textbooks, first for college students and then for kindergarten students. I always felt I understood the sensibility of kids more genuinely than I did adults. I built a graphic arts company and grew it into a $4 million company.

That was for about 21 years. I knew it wasn’t really me. I wanted to paint. I sold the company, and then I went back to school full time at the Arts Students League of New York, and I started painting. I kept showing work in group shows and studying at the League. The biggest prize I won was the Gonzalez Edwards Study/Travel grant to Spain—- $15,000, plus four months of study and travel in Spain and a year’s tuition at the League.

This is an excerpt from a comprehensive interview.