Kenneth A. Kerslake was a Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and founder of the Printmaking Program at the University of Florida's School of Art and Art History, where he taught for 38 years.
In the past 40 years, his works have been included in dozens of competitive, invitational, and solo print exhibitions, and his prints have been circulated in what was formerly Yugoslavia by the US State Department. In the forward to the catalog for the "USA/USSR Exchange Exhibition 1981-82," sponsored by the Southern Graphics Council, Dr. Tom Dewey of the University of Mississippi describes Mr. Kerslake as "one of the five most influential printmaker-educators responsible for the growth of printmaking in the southeast in the years following World War II."
Works by Mr. Kerslake are included in the public collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art; The Library of Congress and the National Collection; Yale University Art Gallery; The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA.; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL; and the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. Three of his works are also on permanent display in the Florida State House of Representatives.
Among his many honors and awards: The Joseph Pennell Fund Selection Committee Purchase Award, Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Associate American Artists Edition Award, (AAA Gallery, NYC.); Best of Show Award, "Intag One", California State University, Northridge; Distinguished Faculty Award, University of Florida; and Teacher of the Year for the College of Fine Arts.
He attended Pratt Institute and holds a BFA and an MFA from the University of Illinois, Champaign. He also served as President of the Southern Graphics Council from 1990 to 1992, and he was a founding board member of the American Print Alliance.
Mr. Kerslake & His Career
Tell us about your career. Where did it start? How did you discover your talent for printmaking?
I have drawn my world from my earliest memories, but I really became serious about art in high school. Growing up in Mount Vernon, Westchester County, New York certainly advanced that interest. In the 1940s, I had two full-time art teachers at A.B. Davis High School and two full-time music teachers. My interest at that time was divided between them. I played a trumpet in the band and orchestra. Almost everyone in my family played an instrument and often, on Sunday afternoons, we played together. My high school art teacher, Robert E. Dodds, influenced me most when I took a watercolor class with him, and I decided the visual arts was what I wanted to do.
After working a year at Union Carbide and Carbon in New York City as a messenger, I became a student at Pratt Institute. At that time Pratt offered, at least in my area of interest, only two programs that I might have chosen; Graphic Design and Industrial Design. Neither really grabbed my interest, and I began to paint on my own. I was fortunate to have two teachers who encouraged me. One was Philip Guston (the renowned Abstract Expressionist) and the other a young painter, Roger Crossgrove who had just graduated from the University of Illinois. Both encouraged me to study painting. At the same time, I was beginning to understand my need for a deeper understanding of the Humanities, and with Roger's encouragement, I transferred to the University of Illinois, Champaign.
There, I took a printmaking course in Intaglio printmaking with Lee Chesney, and I knew almost immediately that I had found my medium. Lee became a mentor and has remained a lifelong friend. As Lee's Graduate Assistant, I had my first taste of teaching. The Liberal Arts education that I received there in literature and history have also played a very important part in my life.
You recently retired from teaching after 38 years at the University of Florida, where you were the founder of the Printmaking Program. What did you enjoy most about teaching and your academic career?
The most exciting thing about my academic career was working with young, fresh minds. The excitement, the spark in the eye when a student suddenly puts everything together and understands new creative possibilities and his/her own potential were seminal moments. These were the moments that most challenged me and were most satisfying.
I also enjoyed the interaction with colleagues, in art and in other disciplines. I belonged to two groups that met once a month for dinner, a talk and conversation, and I was privileged with exceptionally intelligent people to discuss their research in fields as diverse as medicine, engineering and nuclear science. It opened my mind to many new possibilities in art and kept me constantly challenged.
How are you continuing to work in the printmaking field?
You know, I truly feel that if I could not work, I could not breath. I have a studio in my home equipped with a large Brand press and everything I need to make prints, paintings and black and white photographs. I also was fortunate enough to retire from the University of Florida as a Professor Emeritus. That means I have access to their Internet structure and research facilities. I also have a wonderful colleague and friend in my successor, Robert Mueller, who last year invited me to participate in a collaborative project to create prints for the university's visiting artist program. I feel like I have a lifetime of knowledge and experience to share, and I am still very competitive. The past is past - what is important is today and tomorrow!
Your work is on display throughout the country, including the Library of Congress, and has been exhibited in Europe. What are some of your proudest accomplishments and favorite projects and why?
Among my proudest accomplishments I would have to list:
Earning the rank of Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Florida (there have only been about 50 others who have held that rank in an exceptional faculty of 1200).
My work with the Southern Graphics Council (serving as President and publisher of the newsletter "Graphic Impressions" for 5 years) and the American Print Alliance.
Winning the Joseph Pennell Award at an annual exhibition of American prints at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC for my print, "Cecilia: The Artist's Mother as a Young Woman."
The retrospective collection of my prints, proofs, studies and notebooks held by the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida (about 270 pieces).
You've won many awards for your work, and you've been recognized as one of the five most influential printmaker-educators responsible for the growth of printmaking in the southeastern United States. How important is this kind of recognition to you, personally, and to your career?
I can't deny that the recognition has been encouraging. I came to Florida with a fresh MFA from the University of Illinois at an opportune time. I just happen to be there and ready when the time was right, so I can't take a lot of credit for that. Southern colleges and universities were hiring young graduates from Northern universities at the time, and in printmaking, especially, from the Midwest "Big Ten," and I was one of them. I loved art and printmaking and I loved teaching, which I always considered simply as sharing my ideas, thoughts and experiences with others. There is nothing quite as exciting as seeing the eyes light up in a student when they first fully grasp a concept or emotional feeling. The only thing comparable is when they bring their understanding to fruition. It's the same as bringing a work of art from your innermost being to the light of day.
How did your work first come to the attention of museum curators and gallery dealers?
From the time I was a senior at the University of Illinois, I have sent my work to national and international competitive print shows. These shows are juried by some of the best and most diverse curators and print artists in the country. While there is usually an entry fee (and some artists object to that), it offers the opportunity to be seen. While in school, we usually sent as a group. There were many of these shows in the 50s and early 60s, and the entry fees were very low. Most of the shows offered ''purchase awards" rather than prizes which, if you won one, it put your work into an important collection and usually resulted in a reproduction in the exhibition catalog. I was fortunate enough to win a number of purchase awards. The resulting exposure resulted in invitations from university galleries and museums to participate in group shows with a number of prints, and eventually I began to hear from gallery dealers interested in handling my work. The process will never make you rich overnight, but it does get you exposure - and for an introspective person, like me, it worked.
Competitive shows declined in the 70s and 80s, but I've noticed a resurgence of late. Some of them ask for excessively high entry fees (over $20), and I no longer send to them, in part because I no longer need to. There is an opportunity here, but look at it carefully. How long has the show existed? What is the entry fee? How much exposure will you get?
Who were the biggest inspirations for your career?
Artistically, my biggest inspirations are many. My teacher and mentor Lee Chesney who introduced me to printmaking is certainly the first. In my immediate world, my colleagues and friends on the faculty at the University of Florida influenced me in many ways, among them: Hiram D. William (painter) who taught me much about the formality of a work of art, Jerry N. Uelsmann, who introduced me to the possibilities of photography and the darkroom and Todd Walker (creative photographer), with whom I explored the realms of photo-printmaking during the 1970's.
Among my historic heroes are Arshile Gorky, Picasso, William DeKooning, Richard Debiencorn, Edward Hopper, Henry Matisse, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Piranese, Goya and many more who at one time or another have had an impact on my life.
How has your family affected, influenced supported your career? Was that important to you?
I met my wife, Sarah Allen, in my first year of graduate school at the University of Illinois. We fell in love and married at the end of that summer (1956). I spent that summer before our marriage driving a taxi in Mount Vernon, NY, and she worked as a cook's assistant at a resort in Michigan. It was a very long summer for both of us. During my final Graduate School year and the next, when I was offered an interim position, she taught remedial reading and theater for exceptional students at Urbana High School and worked in the Lincoln Library at the University. Her intelligence, emotional support and belief in me added immeasurably to my confidence and incentive to succeed. Beyond the important intangibles, she often assisted me in edition printing and soon became more of an expert at that than I was. Sarah, or Sally as she is called, has been my mainstay and inspiration all of my adult life.
Several years after we moved to Florida, where I joined the faculty of the University of Florida, we adopted two children, Scott Paul (1963) and Katherine Rachel (1964). Both of them were very important to my growth as a person and as an artist. My position allowed me to spent considerable time with them, and we spent many happy hours tent camping in the Eastern United States and canoeing in the many lakes surrounding Gainesville. In short, it would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to do what I have done without their love, stimulation and support.
The Actual Work
What exactly do printmakers do? How do they create art?
Printmakers do what all artists do: They create images that reflect their world, project their values and interests in the human condition, and imaginatively explore their visions.
The only real difference between printmakers and painters, sculptors and other artists is the tools and materials they use. It might be added that printmakers are often artists who like to work with resistant materials. Materials that promote "process" or the development of a thought or feeling as it is challenged by the material itself.
Can you describe a typical day of work in the industry?
No. There is no typical day and that is both the excitement of it and the anxiety. Every time one walks into the studio the unexpected awaits. What you do with it is what matters and what is creative.
I might spend part of the day working on the image on my computer and another part scraping a plate, mixing colored inks, and printing intaglio proofs or an edition. Within the frame work of making prints, it's a constantly varied schedule and I love that.
What are the tools of the trade that you use the most in printmaking?
I use whatever tools will satisfy the questions posed in the dialog with the work. I have used the engraver burin, the etching needle through an acid resistant ground, made extensive use of the scraper and burnisher to modify a copper or zinc plate, acids to etch, of course, and light sensitive grounds. I have also used the tools of the darkroom like a camera and the enlarger. I like to paint as well and a lot of my understanding of form comes from that medium. I think an artist must always be free to incorporate any tool that his/her idea demands. Techniques are tools. You acquire them when they are needed to express the deep emotions and ideas that you have. There is no point in acquiring techniques or tools if you have nothing to say with them.
Are there specialty software programs for printmakers? If so, what are they and what do they do?
The computer program that I use the most is Adobe Photoshop. So far, that has done everything I need. If, at some time in the future, my ideas need something more, I will look for it then. In the late 1960s and during the 1970s, I had a need to use the photographic image in contrast to the hand drawn one - so, I acquired that then. It is not any different now. In my mind, one medium is no better than another. There is good and bad art and good and bad artists. That's what matters!
You've described your work using terms like Lithograph, Intaglio and Ink Jet Transfer. For those who might not be familiar, could you briefly explain these and any other important printmaking terms?
Intaglio: American Heritage Dictionary describes Intaglio as "A figure or design carved into or beneath the surface of hard metal or stone. Normally, a copper or zinc plate is used. The image may be incised (cut directly in to the metal) as in engraving, drypointed (scratched with sharp needle) or etched. In etching, an acid-resistant coating or ground is applied to the plate and a needle used to draw the image into the ground, exposing the metal. The plate is then etched in acid. Other techniques such as Aquatint (powered rosin or spray paint) will produce tones and Softgrounds, textures. It is a very flexible medium. Previously-etched images may be modified or removed with the scraper and burnished. Rembrandt created five states of his "Three Crosses" on the same copper plate by removing and adding imagery over a long period of time. The plate is printed by coating it with thick printer's ink, filling the grooves, pits and textures, then wiping the ink from the surface and placing the plate on a flat bed press (large rollers top and bottom), covering it with dampened paper and three soft felt blankets. This sandwich is cranked through the press under pressure, pressing the paper into the plate's grove, etc. and transferring the image to the paper. The origins of Intaglio go back many centuries in European and Middle-Eastern history.
Lithography: A medium created by Alois Senefelder in 1798-99. It functions on the chemical principle that grease resists water. Drawing is done with a greasy crayon of liquid (call tusche) on a slab of lime stone or grained zinc plate. The stone is sealed with gum arabic and small quantities of nitric acid and buffed to a thin film. the greasy crayon is removed with a solvent and the stone sponged with water. The stone is kept wet during the printing process. Areas protected by the gum film will attract water, greasy areas (the drawing will reject water). When rolled with an oil based ink the wet areas reject the ink, and greasy areas attract it. The stone is then covered with paper and passed through the press to transfer it. It is the basis of all offset printing now used for newspapers, magazines, etc. on high speed presses. It is the only print medium that I know of invented by one man at a specific time in history.
Screen Printing: Essentially, this is a stencil attached to a silk or nylon screen. Stencils may be hand cut, painted on, or projected using a light-sensitive emulsion. Ink is then pressed with a squeegee through the screen to transfer the image to paper. Light-sensitive emulsions can be used in the intaglio and lithographic mediums, as well. While screen or stencil printing had historical precedence in the Orient, the form that we are familiar with is entirely an American invention.
Relief: A medium where the negative areas of the image are cut away leaving a raised image. Ink is then rolled on the surface and transferred to paper either by rubbing or in the press. Chief examples are wood cut and lino cut blocks. The origins of relief printing began as relief carving centuries ago. The earliest known relief print, according to John Ross, Claire Romano and Tim Ross, in "The Complete Printmaker" was the Diamond Sutra, a 17-foot long scroll printed by Wang Cheih in AD 868.
In all of the above, color is usually created by making a separate matrix (plate, stone, screen or block) for each color, although there are other methods of creating color in a print.
Ink Jet Transfer or Digital Transfer: Images created in the computer in their entirety or as past of an image created by traditional printmaking are output on a digital (computer) printer onto a film coated with a water soluble emulsion. When the film, containing the computer image is placed face down against dampened paper (100% rag, acid free paper is recommended) and run through the press the image is transferred completely to the paper. If the paper already contains a lithographic or intaglio image the two are combined. The digital transfer, in addition to photographic images also allows for the use of dozens of colors in a single application.
Is it important to collaborate with your colleagues? How have your professional collaborations benefited your career?
It can be very beneficial at times, but first you must develop you own distinctive signature, much as a writer develops a voice. A good example is the concerts performed by the three tenors Carrara, Pavaroti and Domingo. If you listen closely, each is distinctly different yet they blend their voices into a harmonious whole. The whole must always be more than the parts.
I can give you a personal example: In one session at my printer, Harvey Littleton's establishment, I was struggling with a particular print, titled "Wind Warped." My printer, Judith O'Rourke, and I had printed four or five overlaying plates, and it still did not coalesce. Finally, Judy said, " Ken, let me try a blended roll going from yellow at the bottom to blue at the top in very transparent ink on the last line plate." I said, sure let's try it." When I saw the print come off the press, I couldn't believe it - it was solved in a most astounding way. She had suggested something I never would have thought of, and it made the whole thing work. In that moment, my voice and her's coalesced, and it was wonderful.
You were a founding board member of the American Print Alliance. Are there any other professional organizations for printmaking?
Yes, there are many regional print organizations that are wonderful and especially interested in young talents in the field. The American Print Alliance is, in fact, a consortium of many of those organizations. Among the most prominent is the Southern Graphics Council, which holds a large annual conference attracting 600 to 700 participants and publishes an excellent newsletter. There is also the Mid-America Print Council, the Society of American Graphic Artists (S.A.G.A.), The Boston Printmakers, the Print Club of Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Printmaking Society, and more including some in Canada and Europe.
What are some common myths about your profession?
The most common myth, I think, is the one that says - If I can just get the right tool, learn the right secret, I'll be an artist. My experience tells me that, contrary to the theories of many of my colleagues in Art education, there is such a thing as "talent," and we are all born with varying degrees of it just as we have varying degrees of intelligence. When one discovers that they have "it", and without benefit of knowing how much proceeds to creatively explore it, they might have a chance of becoming an artist. That is, if they are willing to forego society's value of financial success as the ultimate, and pursue their calling to the limit.
Education Information & Advice
Tell us about your art education. What did you like and dislike about your printmaking education?
I think I have already said a lot about this earlier, but I must add the following: After transferring from Pratt Institute to the University of Illinois, I enrolled in a printmaking class taught by Professor Lee R. Chesney. I had never thought of printmaking before, but somehow Lee, who is now a long time friend (and will always be my mentor) intrigued me with his enthusiasm for intaglio printmaking. Somehow, he spoke to me. His critiques were insightful, and we communicated easily. There are a few times in anyone's education that you meet a teacher like that - and it is an exciting moment. I continued in printmaking, at first, because I profited from Lee's criticism. Later, I began to see the magic inherent in the copper or zinc plate, and later still in all printed matter.
I had a good educational experience over all. The only negative thing I can think of is that, at Pratt, I became interested in the fine arts, and at the time (early 1950s) they had no program for that. I must add that they have an excellent fine arts program now in all the fine arts, including printmaking.
How can prospective art students assess their skill and aptitude for printmaking?
I guess that comes down to assessing which medium incites your greatest inventiveness or creativity. For me, the metal plate offered resistance to my will and forced me to think and rethink my way to solutions and that has remained important to me. In working on Intaglio plates, I came to understand it is the "process" or "the journey" that is important - not the "destination".
If someone has the artistic talent already, should they go to school for printmaking and why?
In the first place, young people should go to school to get an education, especially in the liberal arts, i.e. literature, history, the sciences, etc. That is important for comprehending the contemporary world. Universities, at their best, are places that teach you to think creatively and help you develop the mental tools to do that.
In the second place, printmaking is a very complex, technically-oriented medium, and a good school can introduce you and help you to master the mediums necessary to express yourself. As a writer cannot write without a love and mastery of language, a visual artist cannot create an impelling image without a knowledge of formality and technique. That is not to say that there haven't been artists, even great ones, with little or no schooling, but a good teacher can go a long way to putting you on the track.
What factors should prospective students consider when choosing an art school? Are there any different considerations for those who know that they want to specialize in printmaking?
In the beginning, no. Printmaking, after all is an art form and apart from the things mentioned above, one needs to study drawing, painting, design, composition and color. These studies sharpen the senses, teach you to really "see", to give structure to your work, and strengthen your confidence in your own sensibilities and instincts. Later on, at advanced and graduate levels, it becomes more important to look for schools, or individual artist-teachers, that have established a reputation for innovation and excellence.
Based on what you hear in the industry, what do you think are the most respected and prestigious printmaking schools, departments or programs?
Schools go up and down over time, but based on what I hear in "academia," I think the most respected printmaking schools are:
Both have strong programs in all the traditional mediums plus photo and computer generated images, paper making and artists books. I am basing this mostly on the great number of excellent artists and teachers who have graduated from those schools. Others include:
These schools have exceptional programs and exceptional artists on their faculties. The University of Iowa, an old standby, still has a strong printmaking program, and there are others.
When is it a good time to go after a graduate degree?
That will vary with every student. For some, it will be directly after completing their BFA degree. For others, a time to work, travel and contemplate their future proves advantageous.
Job Information & Advice
What are the best ways to get a job in the field of printmaking?
There are no jobs, as such, in the field of printmaking. There are jobs in university teaching (not so easy to get) and as a printer or printer's assistant in the many professional print shops like Ken Tyler Graphics, Pyramid Atlantic (Maryland), Lakeside Studios (Chicago) and many smaller ones. Among university-affiliated print studios, there is Tamarind Institute (University of New Mexico), Graphicstudio (University of South Florida), The Rutgers Center for Innovative Prints and Paper (Rutgers University) and others. I think most of the printer, curator positions in these shops are "staff" rather than "faculty" positions. Initiative and persistence are the keys to success as an artist.
One of the best graduate students I ever had established a little silk screen business called the "Blind Dog Press" to sustain himself and contribute to his family (his wife was/is a journalist). He printed on order T-shirts. I think it lasted four or five years until he landed a teaching position at the University of California at Santa Barbara. His work migrated from printmaking, in the traditional sense to large-scale photography. He recently stepped down from the position as Chair of their Art Department and has had shows all over the world, including New York, France and Germany.
You received a BFA from Pratt Institute, a well-known school for the arts. Does graduating from a prestigious school make a difference in landing a good job?
I have to correct one thing. I attended Pratt Institute for three years in the early fifties but transferred to the University of Illinois-Champaign which awarded both my BFA and MFA degrees. To answer your question, I would have to say "yes", it helps to land a job in the fields I've mentioned if your degrees come from prestigious schools.
On the other hand, if one decides to go it alone as an artist, I don't think gallery dealers care about anything but the quality of the work and the artist's capability to continue producing work.
How available are internships in printmaking?
Most university graduate print programs offer assistantships and fellowships which offer experience in teaching and shop maintenance. The Tamarind Institute offers a three-year program for printers combined with the business of running a print shop for artists. It is a very competitive, advanced program, and I believe requires a BFA in art with printmaking experience.
How is the job market now in the printmaking industry? How do you think it will be in five years?
Like all of the fine arts, I do not believe there is a "job market" or a "printmaking industry" unless you want to consider the commercial printing industry, ie. newspapers, magazines, etc. Academia has teaching positions, but not many, and they will go to the best qualified. Other positions mentioned earlier are available. If one wants to do it as an artist alone, there are galleries and print dealers and a growing number of Print Fairs that I've heard of which offer the opportunity to sell prints. I believe there are ones in Washington, DC, and in Chicago.
You've worked in the printmaking industry for more than 40 years. What are some of the most significant changes you've seen in the industry?
The word "industry" bothers me simply because it does not apply in my case. I worked as an artist/printmaker and in academia for more than 40 years. While I produced prints, paintings, photographs and drawing continuously and exhibited them over that period of time, you could say I had a day job to support me and my family.
The significant changes have been great in the last half century: When I entered the field, printmaking consisted of Intaglio, lithography, relief printing and silk screen. The emphasis was on drawing. Photography and photo-printmaking entered the field in the 60s, and I can honestly say I contributed to that with my work and teaching in the late 60s and 70s.
Later, the computer has had an influence on work produced in printmaking itself and on the kind of individual that enters the field. While I personally believe in drawing as a primary medium, there have been wonderful works of art, even great ones produced by artists who cannot draw. Mixing mediums has also become popular in recent years, as has the art of hand-made paper and artist's books, some of which stretch the imagination to understand the object as a book. I have also been creating images on glass plates at a studio in Spruce Pine owned and run by the renowned glass artist Harvey Littleton. Intaglio-like images can be created by sandblasting, frosting and drawing with a diamond point bit in a high speed drill (called Vitreography) or litho images by drawing on the grained glass plate using a new process call "waterless litho." This process also works on stone and aluminum plates. It is interesting to note that many older techniques, such as mezzotint in printmaking, and 19th century processes in photography have been revived by younger artists and given new life in a contemporary form. Collaborative print projects have also changed the character of the medium. Yes, printmaking has changed and expanded immensely.
What are some of the recent trends that you see in the field of printmaking which could help students plan for the future?
It is important to be conversant with the computer as a tool, and even the Internet, but be sure you are well-grounded in the basic mediums. The hand moving an etching needle across a grounded plate, or a litho crayon or tusche brush across a litho stone has an immediacy and surface that cannot be matched by the photograph or computer-printed image. The two in combination, however, have enormous possibilities. Having a command of the basic (traditional) techniques and process gives you the freedom to invent new and original art forms and expands your horizons.
Do printmaking professionals typically use any specialized computer programs? If so, how important is it for graduating students to be well-versed with these programs?
I use Adobe Photoshop extensively in my current work, combining ink jet print outs on a transfer film which is then transferred to dampened paper (already containing an etched or litho image) in the press. I'm sure there are many other excellent graphics programs out there, but Photoshop does everything I need for the moment. When my ideas and concepts require something else, I'm sure I will get and learn it.
Has the popularity of the Internet affected your profession?
Sure! It has affected everything, hasn't it? To be an artist requires nothing more than a vision and the need to express it. It can be done with the simplest of tools. New means do provide new opportunities and the creative mind is also a curious mind. I have been involved in at least two Internet projects. One was a folder set up at the West Virginia University. Any artist could submit an image and another artist could download it, add to it and refile it with a suffix added to the title.
That left a trail of developments of a completely collaborative nature. The other was a show sponsored by Arizona State University. Here, work (preferably computer manipulated) could be submitted on the Internet. The show was juried, and printouts exhibited. Both of these projects were affiliated with annual conferences of the Southern Graphics Council. There is also World Printmakers, an internet gallery, and a marvelous Canadian printmaker named Barry Smilie who has a number of very creative websites, the current one, images and text based on the Iliad is at http://barrysmylie.com/iliad/iliad000.htm
Is there anything else you can tell us about yourself, yr career, or the profession that would be interesting or helpful to others aspiring to enter and succeed in printmaking?
This has been a pretty exhaustive interview, and I've pretty much said it all I think. I might add: Understand art in all its forms and understand the history of art. In order to go forward it is necessary to know where you came from and who proceeded you. Continue to learn and master new knowledge and skills throughout you life. Believe in yourself and your talent and be relentlessly persistent. Hard work and sweat count.
If you love what you do, and feel the excitement and pleasure as each new work is completed it is your best payment - the hard work is easy - more like play. I've always believed that self-discipline is not a matter of making yourself do something, it's really a matter of loving what you are doing so much you can't stay away from it. Except for the bad days, of course.