What can I do with a degree in art? This question was at the forefront of Gregory Carr’s mind as a college freshman at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies (CCS). During his first illustration course, Carr discovered the answer to this question.
“I always loved fine art but worried about its commercial application,” said Carr, now a retoucher/illustrator with Midcoast Studio, a Troy-based visual solutions company. “Illustration was a good transition for me. This discipline taught me how to use my creative skills in a more figurative way—to tell a story and intrigue. This is at the heart of what I do today.”
Midcoast Studios offers computer-generated imagery, video and digital photography services for iconic brands such as Jeep, Harley Davidson, Chrysler, RAM, Fiat, General Motors, Volvo, Sea Ray, HGTV and The Henry Ford among others. As a retoucher/illustrator, Carr helps tell the stories of these brands through creative photo retouching.
“This might involve retouching a photo to bring out a vehicle’s body line to show off its look/design, replacing scenery in the background with something more picturesque, or CGI rendering a car and placing it in another scene,” Carr explained. “For example, I worked on the cover for a Dodge Viper catalog and made it appear that the car was driving off a piece of fabric on a workman’s table. As part of a project for Alpha Romeo, I hand painted part of some images. Alpha Romeo is a high luxury brand known for its high-end materials, so that was a challenge!”
While Carr’s full-time job is in the commercial industry, he enjoys the fulfillment and creative energy he experiences every day at work.
“Our studio provides a service that our economy needs, and I get to contribute to the stories of some of the most iconic brands in the world!” said Carr. “I still remember seeing a Jeep Wrangler ad pop up on Facebook and thought, ‘how awesome to be part of that!’ Plus, I’m working in a creative environment with other fine artists; we all do our own work on the side. This job affords me the lifestyle to be able to do that too.”
Carr’s paintings have been included in a number of shows, including the Ann Arbor Art Fair, The Players’ Club theatre and other exhibitions in Michigan and North Carolina, where he worked as a resident artist with portrait painter Rich Nelson. His portfolio can be found at tall-greg.com.
While Carr enjoys his career at Midcoast and commission/gallery work on the side, he would eventually like to pursue an MFA and teach at a college or university. He hopes to one day inspire other aspiring artists the way his teachers inspired him. In fact, he still hears the words of CCS illustration professor Don Kilpatrick in his mind today.
“He (Kilpatrick) would always say, ‘Sit in your pain and figure it out,’” said Carr. “When I’m working on project for myself, it’s easy to take a break or give up on it. But I can’t do that at work. When I find myself up against obstacles or challenges, I repeat these words and work my way through the problem. I’ve discovered it’s the struggles that give you confidence.”