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The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Latimer’s art reflects his life and work

Art teacher Eric Latimer sells a portion of his work, including prints and stickers, at the Magpie, a store located in Somerville, MA.

“How was your day?” a woman asks a man in a button-down shirt in the first panel of a four-panel comic. “Exhausting,” he replies. “At least you’ve got your art to keep you fresh,” she cheerily suggests. The man slumps at the table and responds, “I think tonight it’s gonna be work one, art zero.”

This comic, titled “Zombified,” is an installment of “Chuffed,” a long-running series by Eric Latimer. Latimer has been a teacher in the visual arts department since 2001. Alongside teaching various classes on comics, digital art and animation, he is also a professional artist. His work includes animation, comics and illustration as well as audio collage. Much of Latimer’s art, including “Zombified,” explores the challenges of balancing his career as a teacher with his aspirations as an artist.

Latimer began his artistic journey at an early age when his grandfather introduced him to “The Adventures of Tintin,” a comic series created by Belgian artist Hergé (Georges Rémi). Over time, Latimer developed a reputation as a strong artist, which in turn gave him the confidence to further develop his artistic skills.

“If you have a knack for something you’ll get some positive feedback, and that puts wind in your sails, so you’re naturally encouraged to keep going,” Latimer said.

Latimer said art has always given him the ability to explore himself and his surroundings. He said that while he sometimes uses art as a way of expressing his ideas and commitments, other times, it serves as a means to understand himself better. In fact, Latimer said that art is so much a part of him that its creation is more instinctive than it is planned.

“I can’t stop it. It’s like breathing. I just have to do it,” Latimer said.

Despite this passion, Latimer often finds that competing obligations prevent him from prioritizing his own work.

Latimer said that he works hard to create unique curriculum and learning experiences for each of the classes he is teaching this semester. Although he said some of his courses meet in the same space and period, he explained that he feels it is important to develop a distinct lesson plan for each of them. As a result, he said, the long days spent on teaching and preparing for class compete for sustained attention with his own artistic pursuits.

“My busy schedule sabotages my more ambitious dreams. I can’t realize them because time is in tight supply,” Latimer said.

Latimer explained that he has explored these tradeoffs in his art, which often focuses on creative blockage and the struggle to carve out time for his work. For example, one of his early four-panel comics, “Real Artists,” reflects on the infeasibility of working full-time as both an artist and a teacher.

Latimer said he would like to find ways to allocate more time to artistic practice, either within or outside the school day. For example, he suggested that the high school might consider supporting professional development programs specifically tailored to teachers and artists. He said opportunities of that kind would allow him to improve his own art, which in turn would enrich his teaching.

“If I had the time to produce some more work, and am inspired by it, I can always find ways to bring it into the classroom,” Latimer said.

Latimer said through organization and focus, he can keep creating art even under time constraints. He mentioned several strategies, such as forcing himself to devote set blocks of time to his work every day, even when he does not feel inclined to do so, and working in a sketchbook during his free time. He said adhering to a set process can produce unexpected surprises.

“I can’t stop wanting to make imagery or being a creative and artistic person. I’m going to capture it in some way. But if you couple that impulse with a routine, then you’re in great shape,” Latimer said.

In the end, Latimer suggested that the best way to overcome difficulties is simply to push through and keep moving forward.

“It’s almost like you have to trick yourself into being productive even when you don’t feel like it. That’s the toughest part,” Latimer said. “Because it’s the process that teaches you, and the process can result in things that you didn’t expect. There are happy accidents, you know what I mean? It’s only by playing and carving out the time to play, that you’re going to be able to just keep it going.”

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