Proctor, a 1990 graduate of Marshall High School, was at his alma mater Thursday, Feb. 25, to share his work and the story of his career with art students from Shawn Harris' and Danielle Adams' classes.
And his art career is starting to take off.
After getting a degree in illustration design from Memphis College of Art, Proctor took some time off from art -- about eight years -- and when he decided to return to his calling, he wanted to combine his love of art with another love: Star Wars.
Proctor said he has been a big Star Wars fan since the first movie was released in 1977.
Proctor proceeded to hone his skills and develop a following by posting his artwork to several fan forums on the Internet, particularly the forums at REBELSCUM.COM, a Star Wars fan site.
He began getting commissions to do paintings and drawings of Star Wars scenes and characters.
Then he went to Comic-Con in San Diego and got his big break. He met with an art director from Lucasfilm, the company that produces Star Wars films and television shows, and while he didn't get a job offer, he got some advice. And he didn't give up.
"I just went up to other artists and said 'Will you look at my work and tell me what you think?'" he said. One of the other artists at the convention had connections at Topps and liked what he saw. He took samples to an editor there.
Two weeks later, Proctor was invited to create artwork for a Topps card series based on the Clone Wars characters.
That was the beginning.
Proctor said he was then invited to create illustrations for the Galaxy 5 series, nearly doubling his output from 106 to 208 cards. He just accepted an invitation to do a third series.
He clarified that he is not actually employed by Lucasfilm but by Topps. Lucasfilm, however, reviews the work of Topps artists and gives its approval before their work can be included in a series.
Pay for the card sketches is not very high, he said, but the exposure is extremely valuable. Because sketch cards are rare -- there is one included per 24 packs of trading cards -- fans seek them out and trade them online.
Of course, since Proctor's cards are among those contributed by a number of artists, the chances of getting one of his originals is fairly remote.
Proctor said artists get to keep a few cards from each series after they have been reviewed and approved by Topps. Those cards can be sold, and artists often make better money selling their return cards than doing the work for the company.
The exposure provided by being selected as a sketch artist leads to additional commissions from other clients.
Proctor said he still has a day job, but between drawing sketch cards and doing commissioned illustrations, it's becoming difficult to keep up the pace. He hopes to turn his artwork into a full-time job.
"You have to be smart about it. Freelance illustrating isn't always stable," he said.
Proctor's parents, Jim and Ellen Proctor, who attended the presentation, said Proctor was an artist from early on, "as soon as he could hold a pencil," said his mother.
Proctor said he remembers his high school and junior high art teachers -- Judy Frerking, Carl Collins and Betty DeLuce -- and said he learned from each.
"You pick up something from every class," he said.
Proctor was scheduled to return to MHS Friday, Feb. 26, to do a demonstration of his process.
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