There’s a lot more to being an artist than simply possessing raw artistic ability. Rowan College at Burlington County student and artist Joshua Toritto understands this fact and has applied it to his current studies at the school, none of which currently include art classes.
Through his full-time work as part of RCBC’s Facilities team, Toritto is able to attend classes tuition-free that he feels will aid him in his other career, that of a professional artist.
Public speaking courses aid him in preparing for speaking engagements and writing courses help give him an edge when it comes to applying for grants or writing about his art on his blog.
Toritto’s work covers a wide range of subjects and styles. Visiting his online gallery, one can see an oil painting of Nick Foles’ famous Philly Special play, a red Ferrari in acrylic, guache holiday greeting cards, and plein air watercolor landscapes. One could be forgiven going through his body of work and thinking each piece belonged to a different artist.
“People look at my portfolio and they don’t believe any of this is mine. They think only this could be yours, or that could be yours, they can’t all be yours,” said Toritto.
If you ask Toritto however, he’ll tell you he draws most of his inspiration from cartoonists like Jack Cole and Doug Sneyd. The signature he signs his work with features a small sketch of a television, a reference to the time he spent as a child watching cartoons with his father. These memories represent his first exposure to art that led to a lifelong fascination.
“It stuck with me, that time with my father, and that little TV is a thank you to my father for that time because it came back and affected me later,” said Toritto.
The defining moment that ended up pushing Toritto over the edge and into wanting to create his own art came when he read the DC comics graphic novel “Kingdom Come,” and was exposed to the work of Alex Ross.
“The artwork is phenomenal. Alex Ross paints like Norman Rockwell and it just grabbed me. I said ‘That’s what I want to do,’” said Toritto.
He found a teacher and mentor in artist and RCBC alumnus Don Stephens after his mother bought him a gift card for a figure drawing class that Stephens was heading at the time.
“He’s the reason I have the career I do,” said Toritto.
Although Toritto initially drew influence from cartoon art, Stephens ended up training Toritto in the wide variety of styles in which he is now able to work comfortably. Once he started booking commission jobs, Toritto says Stephens taught him not only the technical aspect of the profession, but what it means to be an artist.
Although he is unsure whether or not he will himself become someone’s Don Stephens someday, Toritto does have some advice to share with young artists, and it starts with finding that mentor figure who is willing to take you under their wing.
“Find somebody that knows more than you, someone who is willing to talk to you and be honest and open with you. If you’re the smartest person in your group, it’s time to go find another group,” said Toritto.
For more information about Toritto and to view his work, check out his blog at brokenrocketart.blogspot.com.