From Art Classroom to Career Artist

Maddy Carroll ’22

Since Michael Avery graduated from GDS in 2015, his art has grown into digital and design spheres in tandem with a similar evolution in the GDS art program. When Michael was a student, the GDS art program focused primarily on more traditional mediums: oil painting, photography, sculpture, and basic drawing skills. After he graduated, Michael went on to study graphic design and illustration at Washington University in St. Louis. Michael honed his digital expertise just as more art careers were moving into the digital realm. Back home in DC, GDS’s art program began to embrace different mediums like digital art, collage, and graphic design. Both Michael’s path of study and the GDS art program show that art trends towards reflecting the time and culture in which we live.

Despite the changes in medium, Michael has continued to value core focal points that he learned in High School—focal points still embraced in today’s GDS arts program: the design process and developing ideas. Michael emphasized the confidence that being in the art program nurtured in him—not only in his technical skills, but also in his ability to make a career in visual arts. 

As a current art student, I can say from first-hand experience that this is still the case. Learning art at GDS makes me truly believe that I can make a career in the arts. The idea of the “starving artist” is heavily associated with careers in visual arts. It can be extremely discouraging to hear this stereotype constantly repeated in the media. The GDS arts program heavily emphasizes that with commitment and preparation, going into the arts can be a viable career.

These days, Michael has taken the skills he learned in High School and college and carved out professional opportunities. As an employee of Farmer’s Wagon, an online farm-to-door market connecting local food producers for direct delivery, Michael creates content for the brand’s social media platforms and marketing materials. Currently, he is working on the layout and graphics for an employee handbook. In the past year, he’s also subbed from time to time for some of the art classes at the GDS High School. Wherever he goes next, he will bring the lessons he learned at GDS with him, as well as the support of current and former GDS artists. 

  • Alumni
  • Arts
  • High School