Tyson Snow worked many jobs before he made a living selling his art. He picked cherries and illustrated a children’s television show. He even considered driving a street sweeper.
Then, he finally got the guts to approach the director of the Marshall Gallery in Scottsdale, where he worked as a salesman.
He framed three pieces and they sold before they were placed on the wall.
“The next three sold right away,” he said. “So I decided to go home and put a show together.”
The Queen Creek resident has now been working as a full-time artist for a little more than a year, dazzling clients with drawings inspired from visits to Africa, among other subjects.
Snow grew up in Ohio and attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He dabbled in industrial design, hoping to go the corporate route and secure a regular paycheck.
“You’ve heard the term ‘starving artist?’” he said. “I didn’t want to be one of those.”
He was hired as an illustrator for a children’s television show, and worked there for two years. It never went on the air.
Snow and his wife, who is from South Africa, moved to Arizona where he was hired by the Phoenix Art Group as a reproduction artist.
He eventually secured a position at the Marshall Gallery, which was started by Peter and DeeAn Strub in 1999.
“We are not in the business of showing popular or decorative art,” Peter Strub said. “Everything we do is modern and rooted in the classicism of the masters.”
For the past several months, Snow’s work has sprouted from his travels to Africa, where he spent time with the Himba people of northern Namibia.
His subjects have included adults, children, elephants, chimps and zebras. His drawings are done on black canvas with white pencil to highlight the contrast.
“You can see the spirit of the person or the animal in the piece,” Strub said.
Snow spends up to 15 hours a day in his Queen Creek studio, which has space for drawing, painting, sculpting and two kilns.
He said he is developing his oil-painting talents, because “I always had a pencil in my hand.”
Strub said the artist also has been invited overseas to be a resident artist in a prominent family’s home, but that the details had not yet been decided.
“Tyson is on the brink of a very important career,” Strub said. “He could be in Paris and London without too much difficulty.”