Starting over at 50: Fulfilling a lifelong ambition to be a creative artist

By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Gaming & Technology

May 4, 2016

Karen Wojcik says that she’s been an artist since the age of five. “In second grade, our music teacher would play songs of famous children’s stories on a record player and the class would have to draw a picture of how we would visualize the story. That is when I first heard [Sergei Prokofiev’s] Peter and the Wolf and I knew art met more to me than anything in the world.” Today, Karen fuels her creativity through her work as a self-employed visual and multimedia artist and animator, fiction writer, and web designer and developer.

Her path to a creative career continued in junior high school when she created a large mosaic out of old magazines. In high school, she took courses in calligraphy, ceramics, jewelry making, advanced illustration, and commercial art. “I learned package designing and letter making. Following this process, I also learned how to draw out and measure a layout for a cereal box package, create creative lettering, hold an air brushing gun.”

A bump in the road—then a U Turn

But soon her creative path was halted. It was 1974 and after returning from a high school career night with brochures from local colleges, Karen’s mom told her that college was only for women looking to find a husband. [Her mom later said that she wished she’d encouraged Karen to follow her creative path]. Karen threw away the brochures and started drawing as a hobby. She dropped out of high school but later earned her diploma through an adult education program.

During that time, she made posters for musicians and created signs for local restaurants. Then, in her second marriage, she found the creative support she needed to return to school for an advanced degree. She chose to attend The Art Institute of Pittsburgh—Online Division. And she started her studies at the age of 50. Today she’s working as a self employed visual and media artist.

“Before I had signed up at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh—Online Division, I was sitting at [a bookstore] and overheard two art teachers talking about a young college student’s experience in graphics. The teachers were worried that they were going to lose their jobs because their skills were outdated. [I got home and looked up] The Art Institute of Pittsburgh—Online Division.” She enrolled in courses despite questioning herself. “I was 50 years old and starting college. I was on a new journey.” She completed a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design in 2016.


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By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Gaming & Technology

May 4, 2016

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