Craig Rex Perry grew up in Englewood and has studied and worked all over the world.
The successful illustrator and cartoonist has returned to town to give a masterclass at a Kenwood high school.
Chicago Tonight visited the Little Black Pearl Art and Design Academy and found a portrait of productive young artists.
Phil Ponce: He brought a portfolio full of works to show how a creative artist presents himself.
And he came up with a lesson plan.
Craig Rex Perry grew up in Englewood, studied and worked all over the world, and returned to Chicago to pay it forward.
Craig Rex Perry: I worked at Disney for about five years. I drew for Batman. I drew for Spiderman and did everything I wanted to do, but there’s nothing like inspiring the next generation. There is energy that comes and goes – you can feel it when you walk through Little Black Pearl. There is a dynamic energy going on here, creativity. And I get that from them.
Monica Haslip, Founder and Executive Director of Little Black Pearl: A lot of the work we do in this space is connecting them to opportunities and helping them really see what their options are in creative areas. And here at Little Black Pearl, we spend a lot of time trying to bring back some amazing professional artists from all backgrounds into the organization.
Mackerel: The students were on the same wavelength as their substitute teacher.
Deyana Randolph, student at Little Black Pearl: I learned a lot of little things that I didn’t really know, like how to draw hands because my struggle was really to draw hands. He just taught me a lot, that when you draw, just be creative, put your all into it. Even when drawing, use your whole arm.
Jayvon Moorestudent at Little Black Pearl: We got to see a lot of art from, you know, the main man here and uh, we got to see what the cartoon looks like, all kinds of art that a lot of people are interested in.
Mackerel: The teacher has a key in his approach.
Pear: You can’t preach to them. You can’t come to them as if you know everything. It’s about inspiring them. It’s about giving them a word or a confidence that they may not have gotten from their parents or peers, and that means you can do it.
Mackerel: Perry finds his own inspiration these days while working on a trilogy of children’s books, “The Soul of Harmony” – an adventure story about music, family and the forces of evil.
He did this animation to help promote the book series.
Moore: I really appreciated that he came all the way to Chicago to show young black students here at this school how he came across who he is.
Randolph: In fact, I really, really enjoyed it. I actually loved it and hope he comes back.
Mackerel: The experience also rekindles passion in the teacher.
Pear: It keeps me young, keeps me fresh. It keeps me current, innovative and that’s what’s important as an artist, I think.
Haslip: If they have a talent, that talent can translate into a real meaningful opportunity, whether it’s going to college or starting a business. And that’s what we want them to do – we want them to learn the discipline to be successful as an artist and to understand what they need to do to achieve their dreams.
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