Art graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering in August 1993. To follow his dreams to work at NASA, Art continued his education and pursued a Master degree in Industrial Engineering specialized in Expert Systems at University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida immediately after received his bachelor degree.
Orlando, Florida, is the home of Disney's World and the entertainment capital of Florida. Full of talent scouts, Orlando is a place to be discovered if your dreams is in show business. Many famous names went through here at one time or another in the early stage of their careers.
On one Orlando winter night in the late 1993, Art went out to join his roommate, Duane Lee, who was working at the Firestone Club, one of the hottest club in Orlando at the time. That night Art was introduced to one of Duane's friend from New York City name Bruce Marshall. Bruce was a freelance fashion guru taking advantage of the booming of the fashion industry in NYC. He thought Art's unique look and exotic features would be perfect for modeling in NYC. He immediately invited Art to NYC and told him that if he came NYC he would get a contract to model for sure.
Art was very appreciated of the offer, but politely turned it down as he didn't see himself as a model and really wanted to finish his Master program. Art suggested his roommate Duane to fill in the offer since Duane was pursuing his modeling career and this opportunity would be the break he's been waiting for. Art realized that it would mean so much more to Duane than to him.
Bruce dismissed that idea, and insisted that Art should consider NYC. Bruce truly believed that if Art were to go to NYC, he would get at least one modeling contract. Bruce was so sure that he offered Art a roundtrip ticket plus accommodation to NYC as a bet. He told Art to look at this as a one week paid NYC vacation and if Art received no modeling contract offers after meeting with a few modeling agencies then consider the trip complementary. Art truly didn't think any agencies would give him a modeling contract, plus, he had nothing to loose, so finally he excepted Bruce's offer.
It was three months into the 2nd semester in the master program at UCF when Art took off during spring break to NYC. After meeting with a few agencies, Art got 2 offers from CLICK Modeling Agency and Storm Models Management. Knowing that 2 agencies wanted to offer him the exclusive modeling contract definitely made Art feel very good about himself in the way that he had never felt before. But Art was determined to finish his master program, so he declined the offers and went back to his normal life in Orlando, Florida.
Even though Bruce won the bet, but he was quite disappointed with Art's decision. A modeling contract to work as a model in New York City was not an easy thing to get back in those days. Many young Americans were after such a contract to get to live a life as a model in the Big Apple, but he could not understand why Art said no.
After came back to Orlando, Art told his mom, Linda Purdy, about his NYC experience and about his decision not to take the modeling contract. Linda told Art that it would not be such a bad idea to give modeling a try. You see, she also knew that this was a chance of a lifetime and it didn't happen to everybody. She told Art that he can always go back to finish his master degree, but this opportunity will only come once in a lifetime.
At first, Art was very reluctant to move to NYC to begin modeling. Again, he never thought of himself as a model and not sure if he can succeed. After carefully thought about it and with his mom full support, Art decided to move to NYC and try his luck in modeling, but which agency to go with?
Bruce basically advised Art to go with Storm Models Management, the all-male models agency. He told Art that although Click was a bigger name in NYC, but CLICK also had a lot more models than Storm to push, both males & females. In early April of 1994, Art moved to NYC and signed an exclusive contract to be one of 50 male models with Storm Models Management and began his life as a struggling model in New York City.
When Art first arrived in NYC, he stayed with his friend, Paul Drury. Paul was a friend of Duane, Art's roomate in Orlando. Paul met Art when he came to Orlando for a vacation. After learning that Art was moving to NYC and had no place to stay, Paul offered a place for him to stay for a few weeks at his apartment on 15th street and 6th avenue. Unfortunately, finding an apartment in NYC proved to be a lot more difficult than Art had expected so he ended up staying with Paul for a couple of months in the Spring of 1994.
After moved around from friends to friends often for his first few months in NYC. Eventually, he found a permanent place to stay on Houston & Sullivan St. in Soho (South of Houston). A friend who Art had met at the gym, David Rodgers, was looking for a roommate to help with the rent to take him out of the red. David thought that Art would be a good roommate and made the offer. In July 1994, Art moved in with David at his Soho apartment and it didn't take long before the two become fast friends.
David was at the time a photographer. He also moonlighting as a black & white photograph toner at the famous Lexington Lab on 23rd street. His toned black & white photos for famous fashion photographer, like Bruce Webber & Herb Ritts, appeared on the pages of all the major fashion magazines. David's ability to give black & white photos a luxurious life was second to none. He was one of the best black & white toner in NYC.
Art and David developed a very good friendship. Art utilized his knowledge for numbers to help David out of the red by putting him on a strict budget and spending regimen. In return, in order to help Art build a stronger portfolio, David often photographed Art and toned the pictures just like the work he'd done for those famous photographers. Some of Art's best photos were photographed and toned by David like this one (above) called 'My Grandmother's Couch.'
More of Art: photographed and toned at Lexington Lab by David Rodgers (from left) 'Cloister Afternoon', B&W inspired by Madonna's 'Erotica' and 'New York City Blue Boy''
To supplement his income, Art also worked as a freelance database designer during his time in NYC. His clients included companies such as Drury Design Dynamics and Lexington Lab.
All and all, Art's experience working as a model in NYC was a pleasant one. Storm Model Management kept him busy going on go-sees and castings with moderate bookings each month which included magazine editorials, commercials, music videos, fashion catalogs and fashion shows.
For example, Art was casted as one of the main extra in a cigarette commercial for Japanese market with Charlie Sheen. Shot on a luxurious yacht cruising around Manhattan all day, it was one of Art's the best payday and the most fun. Art also appeared as one of the principle casts in a music videos for a French hit single 'Everyday People.' In addition, Art's body was featured on a sport underwear box. Some of the editorials included this one called ' The Naturals' for the Sport Style magazine. (Below)
Sport Style Magazine
New York, 1995
One assignment in particular that stood out and made Art especially proud was the GIVENCHY Ad for German Vogue, July 1995 issue (below). Randy Smith, a friend and up and coming star stylist of New York City at the time booked Art for this job which turned out to be the last assignment for Art before moving back to Thailand.
When asked about his time in NYC, Art always say 'it was the best time of his life' and appearing in Vogue Magazine was one of the proudest moment working as a model in NYC.
Cental Park, New York
Vogue July 1995