Tyler Charlton ’02 put pencil to paper at an early age, adopting drawing as a youthful hobby. But he never thought about making it a career. Art classes were one of the few things he liked in high school; he knew he wasn’t ready to go straight to college. Instead, he signed up for the Army the summer before he became a senior.
The four years he spent in a mechanized infantry unit shaped him in important ways. Stationed in Texas and in Korea with a deployment to Kuwait, he worked hard in severe weather. “I got a sense of discipline, responsibility and duty from my time in the service,” he says. Other benefits included the thrill of serving as an infantryman, which at times meant he drove an M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and the camaraderie with fellow soldiers.
Raised in a Christian family, Tyler first made his faith his own in Korea. His grandmother sent him Daily Bread devotionals, which he read while sitting guard duty. Being far away from home brought him closer to God.
When he got out of the Army, Tyler was ready for college. His sister, Lindsey, was a junior at Westmont, and the Christian atmosphere appealed to him. Wanting to be practical, he began as an economics and business major. “But I found no joy in that,” he says. He switched to history, which he loved, and also studied German. “The professors in my major were caring and empathetic, and they took a lot of time to help me,” he says.
An art class with Sue Savage reignited his passion for drawing, and he studied illustration with Scott Anderson during the Mayterm following his senior year. For the first time, he thought about becoming a professional artist. Anderson acquainted him with the Illustration Academy, which Tyler finally attended in 2006 and again in 2007. The summer-long program brings some of the best professional illustrators together with students eager to enter the field. Since it wasn’t practical for him to attend art school full time, Tyler started taking classes wherever he could, studying everything from Web and print design to figure painting at places like the California Art Institute and Santa Barbara City College.
After graduating, he needed a day job, so he went to work for publisher ABC-Clio, doing editorial work on historical scholarship in German. He enjoys this outlet for his interest in history and German, but he looks forward to the day he can devote all his time to illustration.
Tyler met his wife, Megan Bodycombe Charlton ’04 after he graduated. A double major in history and French, she shares his passion for history and languages. She worked at ABC-Clio until enrolling at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in 2006 to earn a master’s degree in international relations, focusing on national security policy.
The couple enjoys living in the nation’s capital. Tyler telecommutes to ABC-Clio while building his portfolio (see www.tylercharlton.com). This fall he plans a trip to New York to meet with prospective clients and present his work. Joining an active organization for professional illustrators in D.C. the area has led to helpful connections with local artists.
“God gives us our passions and our talents and, just like monetary wealth, it is our responsibility to be good stewards of those gifts,” he says. “I remind myself of that when I get distracted or discouraged. I know I can draw and paint well. I may not be the best, but I owe it to God to do my best. I think God gives us such talent and passion for a purpose and provides opportunities to realize His purpose.”