VALRICO — Joshuah Howard loves making art. Any kind of art. Sculptures, graphic design, painting.
"Mostly because I'm good at it," said the senior at Bloomingdale High School.
He doesn't mean to sound conceited, it's just that he's been better than most his whole life. An ink drawing of his girlfriend looks like a photograph. A mobile he created looks like one of artist Alexander Calder's famous pieces. And a graphic design recently earned him $3,500.
"That was like a year's salary in a week," said Joshuah, who's a lifeguard at the YMCA in Valrico.
This summer, Joshuah took his skills to a wall inside the YMCA. He's been a Boy Scout since first grade, and it was time to work on his Eagle Scout project. He thought a mural inside the rock-climbing gym would be fun.
"Most do manual labor, clean a forest," he said. "This was more me."
The 30- by 40-foot wall is filled with upward arrows and motivational text in bold red, black and grey paint: Try, aspire, endure, succeed.
Those are his plans, too. He's trying to get into a good architecture program for college. He aspires to be a conceptual architect. He knows he'll have to endure long nights in the studio designing models. But he plans to succeed.
Joshuah's graphic design of an ink splatter that transitions into a piece of music earned him $3,500 on Threadless.com, which sells shirts designed and rated by the public.
He got the idea for Splatter in D Minor when his pen exploded on a piece of music in D minor. He thought he'd win enough votes online, but he didn't expect that much money.
The first thing he bought with his winnings was the Adobe Illustrator computer program so he won't have to use the practically ancient Adobe 2.0 he used for his first design.
"I'm trying to crank out as many as possible," he said.
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 661-2443.