Thursday, April 5, 2012

Memoirs Of An Artist

of the Forum

Photo by Cammy Blount / Forum

  Success is not obtained only by having an open door of opportunity, but also by knowing when and having the courage to walk through it.  Many live by these rules everyday. Certainly Justin Kretchet, a student in Florissant Valley’s Social Sciences and Humanities programs has experienced this. Justin has found several doors of opportunity and walked through them with major enthusiasm.  But how exactly does one find these opportunities at hand? For Justin, the answer was to work hard and study abroad.
 When Justin was 16, he completed an artistic and academic exam that ran for three weeks and was one of two students to be selected for a foreign exchange program in south Tokyo, Japan. Justin spent two years there, when opportunity came knocking on his door. Courageously, he answered the calling of his first big break- illustrating for the anime series Full Metal Alchemist.
“Over the course of two years, I started dating a girl whose father was an animator on the series,” Justin bashfully stated. “He asked me if I wanted a job doing some clean up animation sales for him, I accepted and earned a pretty good reputation there.”
He honed his skills and kept going to sharpen his freelance portfolio. However, complications surfaced.
“I loved the work and the money, but I got into big trouble,” Justin admitted. “My school district back home at the time was covering my room and board, and with me having a job, I had too much income for them to continue covering my expenses.”
Justin had to choose between his thriving career and his education.
“I could have continued my education in Japan, but that would have meant repeating my freshmen year, and I missed my folks,” he said. “I decided that I’d had my fun and it was time to go home.”
Making that choice meant returning to a home that was no longer warm. When Justin returned to the U.S., many students at his high school were furious with him. He encountered such struggles as a protest started by the class president to prevent him from graduating and an assault from a fellow classmate. But these things did not stop him from pursuing success.
“Anything in life worth having is worth fighting for,” he advises. “If you have dreams and goals, fight for them, no matter what.”
 Today, Justin is still driven, working in Flo Valley’s graphic print lab, designing websites and working as an animator and editor for the anime series Naruto.
For a look at the latest episodes of Naruto, visit

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