From a Socially Awkward Youth to a Life Less Ordinary – Day 347

Artwork: Passerby by Tony Baselici
“Passerby” by Tony Baselici. Copyright © Tony Baselici

Children who feel like they “don’t fit in” are often creatives who find themselves growing up in a system that favors left-brained thinking. Dreamers and thinkers are often considered outsiders in the school yard as well as the working world. Some, however, are fortunate to recognize their abilities and take the path less traveled to fulfil their dreams.

Artwork: To Catch the Spider by Tony Baselici
“To Catch the Spider” by Tony Baselici. Copyright © Tony Baselici

Tony Baselici was a gangly, socially awkward youth who quickly developed an aversion to the ordinary and an affinity for daydreaming.  “For me, childhood seemed like a waiting room, filled with uncomfortable chairs, where I couldn’t distract myself from the anticipation of becoming an adult,” says Baselici. “The magazines sucked and our TV only had one channel. I felt like I already knew who I was, but I couldn’t actually manifest until this unimportant childhood stuff was behind me. I guess I was an old soul from the beginning, and that made me feel different from my peers.”

Baselici recognized that his talents and his penchant for daydreaming made him perfectly suited for the visual and performing arts, but that still didn’t make his childhood that much easier. “Most of the time, being different was actually good,” says Baselici, “because so many famous artists were also considered ‘different.’ I saw it as a sign that I would grow up to be an interesting, creative person. However, there were also many times when I just didn’t relate to my peers, and that made me sad and uncomfortable. I wasn’t any good at just hanging out and having fun with friends. I always wanted to be doing or accomplishing something, so I took on a lot of creative extracurricular activities including dance and theatre. I fit in with the people at the dance studio and the community theater much more so than with my classmates at school.”

Artwork: The Ego, Id and Om by Tony Baselici
“The Ego, Id and Om” by Tony Baselici. Copyright © Tony Baselici

Despite his wanting to “fit in”, Baselici was fortunate to receive support from his mother who was a wildlife artist and who taught him the fundamentals of drawing and painting and encouraged his interest in dance and theater. “I always felt like an artist perhaps because my mother was an artist, and she taught me those skills from an early age,” says the artist. “I was also always attracted to beauty, which continues to be an important element in my art to this day. Fashion photography was a huge influence. I remember looking at the photos of all those beautiful people in beautiful places in my mother’s ‘Vogue’ magazines and wishing real life could be like that. I would tear out the pages and draw parts of the photos in pencil or with pen and ink. When my drawings began to look like the photos, I knew I was getting good.”

Baselici’s first portrait commissions came while he was still in high school. But he still wasn’t sure what career path he should follow. “In school, I loved science and I loved art, so when a teacher told me scientific illustration was an actual profession, I was sold,” he says. “And, because I was gifted with the ability to render things well, I excelled at my classes once I got to college. But something didn’t feel right. In the end, I felt like my major wasn’t creative enough. It felt more like drafting than art.” Baselici graduated with a degree he would never directly use. “But I don’t regret my choice to study scientific illustration,” he says. “I actually learned a lot that I apply to my art today. I do realism after all.”

After graduation, Baselici pursued a far more creative career in graphic design. “I don’t know if graphic design was a better choice,” says the artist, “but it was a safe choice at the time. I knew I could find work in that field and I needed the stability that a steady job provided.” After graduating from college, however, he stopped creating art for himself. While focusing on becoming independent, Baselici was also battling a severe case of depression. After many years of darkness, he met his partner, who talked him into painting again by buying him an easel for his birthday. “Now I know that finding and pursuing your passion is the best thing you can do to fight depression,” says the artist. “If I hadn’t started painting again, there is a very good chance I would not be here today.”

Artwork: Destiny by Tony Baselici
“Destiny” by Tony Baselici. Copyright © Tony Baselici

While his return to his art saved him emotionally, he is grateful to have the business and marketing knowledge he gained through his “day job” in graphic design. “Those are tools I can apply to my art career,” he says. “And in my opinion, those are tools that art schools don’t spend enough time teaching their students.”

“Graphic design is also very creative, and I’ve come across quite a few artists who started their careers as graphic designers,” Baselici continues. “I can often tell an artist who has that background just by looking at their work. Paintings from contemporary artists like Craig Kosak and Erin Cone have a strong focus on design, and I pegged them for graphic designers before I read about their backgrounds. I think my artwork has been similarly affected by my graphic design training. You can see it in my use of shape and line and my exploitation of positive versus negative space.”

So for all those kids who daydream, here is what Baselici has to say: “Daydreaming as an art. When I daydreamed as a kid (and as I still do), I imagined beautiful images like those in the fashion magazines that captured my attention. Therefore, daydreaming didn’t feel like a waste of time if I could turn it into something tangible like those photos. Now, daydreaming is the first step in my creative process. Art and daydreaming go hand-in-hand, and I don’t think I could have one without the other.”

What is the next step for Tony Baselici? “As I focus on transitioning my time to a career in the fine arts, I know I am transitioning to a life where daydreaming is a skill, where beauty is more valuable than gold, where the ordinary can be transformed into the extraordinary,” he says. “Art isn’t just a job. It is a way of living. It’s a life less ordinary.”

And that’s precisely what makes it worth living.

SerenaK signature

Artist Credits for the images included in this post:

Tony Baselici, Georgia
Oil on canvas

To Catch the Spider
Tony Baselici, Georgia
Oil on canvas

The Ego, Id and Om
Tony Baselici, Georgia
Oil on canvas

Tony Baselici, Georgia
Oil on board

Tony Baselici, Georgia
Oil on canvas

Tony Baselici’s artwork can be viewed at: Tony Baselici Fine Art

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.Click to view The 365 Days Project

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