The Mentorship Experiment: The Apprentices!

Before I reveal the name of the apprentices (and I know you can scroll down to see who was selected), I want clarify why I am doing this.

The Mentorship Experiment project is my little way of giving something back to the artistic community at large. I never really had a mentor in the years before going to art school. It showed in my work. I made every single mistake an artist could possibly make. I learned at a snail’s pace and my improvement as an artist was slow and painstaking. It took me the better part of 13 years to get to where I’m at now, and I feel that I still have a lot to learn. If I can shave off a little bit of that time for other artists, I want to do it.

The other point I’d like to make about this whole “Experiment” is that I am not forcing my “way” upon anyone, or making any claims about “my way is better than yours”. Real artists know that’s nonsense. Who you are as an artist is as unique and individual as you are. What I am doing is making suggestions and providing guidance. I am not trying to make artistic clones of myself. I’m simply sharing my insight, but diving deeper, I am also leaving questions on the table for the artists to ponder, reflect, and question. This is the spirit in which I am providing this free mentorship service. I will be posting assignments for anyone to follow, regardless of whether you feel comfortable drawing or not. If you take part in the exercises, you should post your results on your blog and provide a link to it in the comments. I want to see your work.

As I read through the each and every candidate application last night, I laughed, I cried, I made pizza.

Okay, maybe not the pizza part – but heck, I was moved. Each of the letters I received were personal, passionate, and from the heart. Some of the applicants had a formal education in art, but needed some guidance in moving up to the next level. Other applicants who wrote in indicated that they did not have any formal artistic training, but were just as serious in their quest to level up. There were those applicants who gave up on their artist dreams years ago, but are now finding the courage to get back into it and pursue their dreams with a vengeance. My hats off to everyone who applied. But amongst all the unique and touching emails was a common core thread:

Artists, regardless of their skill level, are hungry for a mentor to encourage and help them grow and develop as an artist.

This isn’t a casual want, it’s a need.

Selecting the winners from the batch of submissions I received was staggeringly difficult, so I made a few guidelines to narrow down my decision. In my mind, the question of Who could benefit from this service the most? kept repeating over and over again.

In the end, I have chosen Barry Buchanan and Kyndra Osterholt as my apprentices for the next 10 weeks.

My first candidate for this mentor experiment was Barry Buchanan, the cartoonist behind Don’t Feed the Geek. Barry has been cartooning for five years. His growth during that time has been nothing short of impressive. Witness his first comic and his latest comic.

Barry’s perseverance and his intentionality are in the true spirit of what the Mentorship Experiment is about. He wrote:

When I was young I wanted to be an artist. I gave up my dream when I decided I was not good enough, although I did keep drawing sporadically. In the last several years I have found myself pulled back to my dream of being an artist. This apprenticeship would be a way to fine tune my skills. I’d like to grow where I need and learn from someone who has been there and done that. I also want to show my daughters to never give up on their dreams and follow their hearts. And this can even be done when they are as old as their Daddy.

Whether I get picked or not, I’d love to follow the progress of those who have been chosen. I think mirroring whatever task they are assigned can only help me grow and be challenged, whether seen or not.

Barry Buchanan

The second mentor I have chosen is Kyndra Osterholt, who wrote:

I would love to be an apprentice because I am unable to attend anything beyond a community college for many reasons, like raising my family. But I am still passionate about art and pursue it in my free time until I can better accommodate my needs. I struggle with a lot artistically, but currently I have a goal to learn consistency, streamlining, and better perspective. I also need to learn how to color more effectively and overall ‘work faster’. I think this apprenticeship will be a tremendous help since I appreciate any constructive guidance in my attempts to improve.

Kyndra’s full-body submission:

Character submission Kydra Osterholt

I’d like to take a moment to congratulate my two apprentices. Barry and Kyndra, prepare yourself – the next 10 weeks are going to be tough!

Oskar van Velden and Michael Jahhdog were the runner ups. Each will receive a critique on their first assignment due next week. I’d like to thank each and every one of the artists who applied for the Mentor Experiment. Fret not if you weren’t selected – you can still do the exercises and post a link to your results in the comments section.

So what’s the first assignment, you ask? I’ll have it up in my next blog post.

Stay ‘tooned,


These beautiful and intelligent people wrote

  • Jose Gonzalez
    January 8, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Awesome post, and super well put, Krishna!
    You are truly giving back! So many well deserving artists out there will benefit from the experiment. Congrats to Barry and Kyndra! This will be fun to watch (and play along as well! LOL) The experience, I am so sure, will be priceless.
    Thanks so much for doing this, Krishna! We’ll be rooting for the experiment, throughout!

  • Oskar 'Skar' van Velden
    January 8, 2012 at 9:46 am


    Thanks for sharing how you picked your two apprentices and congrats to Barry and Kyndra. We will be watching you, doing the exercises with you and learn all together.

    I wish everybody good luck and lots of fun :D

  • John Terrone
    January 8, 2012 at 9:56 am

    This is such a great idea! Do you have a link of where of where we can follow along if we would like to complete the assignments or is this something you’ll update on FB? Thanks.

  • jahhdog
    January 8, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Many of us look for direction. That is such a big part of what makes an artist who they are. I am glad you chose (in my best Yoda voice) “two worthy apprentices, Master Krishna!”

    I will definitely be following along on the journey (but I WILL keep a healthy distance and NOT eat the bread crumbs)!

    Thanks for considering me!


  • brushmen
    January 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Congratz to the apprentices! Lucky folks you! :P
    And thanks Krishna for providing the opportunity!