At the age of 5, Joshua Meehan discovered he had a gift for making art. When he turned 12, he knew he wanted to turn that gift into a profession. Now 23, Meehan is one of 12 winners of the 29th Annual L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators of the Future Contest, making his dream a reality.
Meehan, a Northwest Tucson resident, works as a freelance artist for international companies and projects.
Meehan, whose professional career began earlier this year, attributes much of his success to winning the Illustrators of the Future Contest in December 2012.
“It puts you on the map,” he said of the contest, sometimes described as the “American Idol” for writers and illustrators.
As a young child both Meehan and his parents knew he had something special when his kindergarten teacher pointed out his affinity and skill for art. Meehan’s parents recognized his talent and chose to homeschool him with an art-focused curriculum.
For the next 10 years, Meehan took art classes in his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska and did not attend public school until his family moved to Tucson. Meehan enrolled at Ironwood Ridge High School in Oro Valley in 2005, taking advanced art courses. In 2008, he won the Congressional Art Contest for his district and had his art on display in the halls of Congress in Washington D.C.
Meehan enrolled in the University of Arizona Visual Communications program in 2008 where he became interested in concept art.
“The dream job is definitely working in film or video games,” he said.
Even though Meehan is still working toward his goal of graduating college, he is not letting that slow him down. He most recently has been working as a concept artist for a short film called “The Dark Prince”, which is a take on the story of Dracula that was featured at the Cannes Film Festival in France.
Since winning the Illustrators of the Future Contest, Meehan has been focusing on harmony between his budding career and play.
“Its all about balance and doing everything in moderation,” he said. “You don’t want to get too consumed in your work that you don’t get to experience the life that you are trying to instill in your work.”
Between painting out-of-this-world monsters and sketching what he sees in nature, Meehan likes to hike, bike, and camp with his friends. In the end, though, his art is what keeps him going.
“If you aren’t doing what you love, it’s the idea of are you really living at that point,” he said. “Life without substance is just no life at all.”