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 be 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 new club in Orlando at the time. That night Art was introduced to Bruce Marshall, one of Duane's friend from New York City. Bruce moved to NYC, one of the fashion capital of the world in order to pursue his career as a fashion designer. Bruce was the ultimate fashion guru who knew a lot about the fashion industry. When he first met Art, Bruce thought that Art's unique look and exotic features would be perfect as a model in NYC. That night Bruce told Art that he should be a model and invited him to come to NYC to give it a try. Most other people would probably jump at the chance, but Art was not at all excited about the idea at all and found it to be a bit unrealistic. Furthermore, Art already had a career plan and wanted nothing more than to finish his master's degree in industrial engineering at University of Central Florida so he can start working as an engineer. Since Art did not show any interests about coming to NYC, Bruce thought that perhaps Art did not believe in what he had to say. Fortunately for Art, Bruce did not stop trying and continued to try to convince Art to come to NYC.
Although Art was very appreciative and grateful for the offer, but he had to politely turn it down as he didn't see himself as a model. Art suggested for Bruce to ask his roommate Duane instead because he knew that Duane was pursuing a career in modelling and this opportunity would be the break he's been waiting for. In addition, Art realized that this opportunity would mean so much more to Duane than to him.
Bruce dismissed that idea and insisted that Art should seriously consider coming NYC. Bruce truly believed that if Art were to go to NYC, he would get at least one modeling contract for sure. 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. If Art ended up with no modeling contract offers after meeting with a few modeling agencies then consider the trip complementary. The truth was Bruce gave Art a roundtrip ticket from Orlando - New York City that he's got from work that's expiring. In addition, Art was to stay with a Bruce at his apartment on the upper west side. Knowing that Bruce would not have to pay anything for the trip, Art finally accepted Bruce's offer. As for as Art was concerned, he was going to NYC to have a nice vacation. He honestly didn't think that any modeling agencies would be interested in giving him a contract.
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 was so surprised that he's got 2 offers from CLICK Modeling Agency and Storm Models Management. Knowing that 2 agencies wanted to offer him an exclusive modeling contract definitely made Art felt very good about himself in the way that he had never felt before. All of his life, he never thought of himself as goodlooking. He thought that may be he was cute, but not handsome. He had always been proud to be respected for his brain but never for his looks. The new revolation of self-discovery 'I can be a model' moment for Art came and gone quickly as he quickly snapped out of it and back to the reality. Since he was a young boy, Art always believed that education's the key to a good future. He knew that his goal of graduating with a master's degree would soon be realised and the good future he always dreamt of having would soon be his if he'd only stay on the path that he'd carefully planned. Just like that, Art declined the offers and went back to Orlando to finish his master's degree.
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