College: Graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA in 1979 with a B.S. in Applied Art and Design, Graphic Design, minor in Children’s Art & Literature (How art can give a voice to children who are limited in their ability to express verbally).
First Job: After graduating, in 1980 I was immediately hired by the University of California, and was assigned to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, CA. My first position was as a Technical Illustrator Specialist in the Technical Information Department at LLNL. I created mostly classified and top secret technical illustrations for President Reagan’s “Star Wars” Nuclear Missile Defensive Canopy for the U.S., and the Laser Fusion, Mirror Fusion energy research programs.
Special Projects Design Team: After creating a series of watercolor illustrations depicting various types of volcanoes for use in an educational outreach to schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, a “Special Projects Design Team” was formed to work on publications dealing with the various groundbreaking research programs taking place at the LLNL. Because of my degree in Graphic Design, and my technical illustration and traditional watercolor abilities, I was recruited into this team. Over a period of years I was promoted from Graphic Design Specialist to Art Director, to Creative Director. Over this time I was honored with numerous National and International awards, including two “Best of Shows” in Graphic Design juried competitions.
The Internet and the Mac: Two notables that I was so blessed to be a part of. One, a group of us were part of the exploration teams looking into the viability of something few were even aware of at the time, .... the Internet (which at the time was a very techie way that universities and government research facilities communicated with each other). The second blessing was when I found this strange looking box on my desk one day. My instructions were, “Try and do something with this!” Well, this little box transformed the direction of my career in Graphic Design. It was the first Macintosh! And I got to learn how to use it, and teach it to my colleagues. The digital revolution had begun! What a thrilling moment in history this was.
Creative Director: The next step on my art-design journey was accepting the position of Creative Director for three major research programs at the LLNL, Biomedical Sciences, Environmental Sciences, and Earth Sciences. My specific responsibilities were to work with the scientists, doctors, and researchers, to come up with visual representations of concepts they had for research and development. There’s a technical thought process that most, if not all of the researchers and scientists go through, where they need to turn their ideas and concepts into visuals that bring to life the nature of their proposals. These visuals were then created to be presented to Congress for the funding they needed. This was my job, getting into the minds of these research scientists, and together crafting visual representations of their proposals that would tell their stories with impact and effectiveness.
Biomedical Sciences: We were the first research facility to begin the “Gene Library” program. Who could have ever imagined the impact this research would have on the future of Genetics. Also, crucial in our understanding of how carcinogens impact the human body in food preparation was a part of the overall emphasis we had on cancer research. Down Syndrome was a condition that was just then beginning to be understood, and the research applied to unlocking the mysteries of this condition were critical in providing treatments that could benefit the families dealing with this disability.
Environmental Sciences: These are a few of the important projects that I was so blessed to be a part of. Cancer Research in how groundwater flow from contaminated locations can adversely affect the health of local communities. Nuclear Detection Processes for evaluating and exposing Nuclear Test Ban treaty violations. Developed Satellite Observation Technology for locating and following atmospheric dispersions of toxic, nuclear, or volcanic debris
carried by wind currents. It was initially used to locate and follow the flow pattern of nuclear fallout over Europe after the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in the Soviet Union. Conducted cancer research related to the nuclear fallout that occured on the Bikini Islands, where many of the nuclear bomb tests were conducted following WWII, and into the Cold War period with the Soviet Union. Research into the radiation impact on the Bikini Islands, and devising effective methods in restoring the damaged environment to safe enough levels for the island inhabitants to return to their homeland was another major project. Also, we continued research into Nuclear Human Exposure, using data from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl, and the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown events to find ways in developing affective cancer treatments. Researched the environmental impact due to extreme weather events, and water contamination. Also researched Renewable Energy Alternatives. The Yucca Mountain Project was vital in finding a suitable location to store nuclear waste from all U.S. nuclear reactors, and research facilities, where nuclear bombs were designed and tested. After two years designing and testing the Yucca Mountain location, it was finally approved for permanent nuclear waste storage. (It’s in New Mexico in case you’d like to visit).
Earth Sciences: Worldwide earthquake research, especially those that occurred in Japan, and California during the 1980-1990 period. Creating new technologies with the hope of understanding earthquake processes, and designing potential monitoring devises that might aid in developing a method of predicting earthquakes. Developed Search and Rescue devises and procedures to aid in earthquake victim recovery. Created presentations that the scientists/researchers used to secure funding for their projects, as well as using the presentations as an educational tool for use in colleges and universities. Designed and implemented the first Monitoring Devises to measure earthquake activity on the San Andreas Fault in California. Research in understanding Plate Tectonics and the role they play in earth formation, especially as it relates to earthquakes and volcanoes. Testing the soil, plant life, crops, and water quality in preparation for re-inhibiting the Bikini Islands.
MorningStar Graphix: After leaving the LLNL in 1996, I open up my own Graphic Design Studio. The work I did for my first client, lead to a client list that included Apple Computer, Time-Warner, Fender Magazine, Aramark Corporation, Pacific Telephone, and numerous other clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Having my own business gave me the freedom and opportunities to put time into developing my own traditional painting style, which is now bearing fruit in my current creative endeavors.
Creating Art Today: Recently, I’ve had to re-invent myself as an artist. Not easy to do when you’ve been trained as a traditional watercolor artist. The stigma of not being 100 percent traditional is fortunately changing in this new digital world we now live in. Even Art Galleries are beginning to see that “Digital Art” is part of the future in how the world values art and design. And so as art changes, I need to change with it. Because I am now feeling the effects of a Central Nervous System accident (which is beginning to affect my fingers and hands) my ability to create is limited somewhat. And so to take the pressure off my hands, I’ve invested a lot of time in learning the digital tools available that I can merge together with my design, composition, and creative mindset, to bring to life visually those things that I am passionate about, such as wildlife and their habitats, and art that's inspired by the Bible. I also believe that art can have a positive impact in helping the healing process of those suffering from physical, emotional, or spiritual afflictions. Also, art can help a child express visually what they cannot express verbally. In the counseling world, using a child's artwork as a way of giving them a voice can sometimes unlock the door to productive communication, and a process of healing.
All Design, & Artwork Including Traditional & Digital Painting by Rick Wooten