Teen making a name for himself!

By Elbe Photography

Zack Branson, a freshman at MosleyHigh School, isn’t your typical 16-year-old. Oh sure, he has a cell phone, but unlike most teens, he doesn’t use that phone for texting. Zack uses it for his business. That’s right; Zack is a business owner at the ripe old age of 16. “I don’t want to go to college,” Zack says, “I want my art to be what I want to do with my life.”

And he is off to a good start.

“I do this because, well, I want to make money, but also because I love it and this is what I want to do. I really want this,” Zack said.

Zack comes by his talent, which is portrait and caricature drawing, by way of family genes. Zack’s grandfather was an artist, using oils as his medium of choice. On the wall of the family’s home in Panama City, FL, hang two of those paintings, a farm scene and a bowl of fruit, both of museum quality.

“My dad served in the military and when he got back he would paint, from memory, scenes of Germany and other places he had been,” Gayle, Zack’s mom said.

Zack realized what he could do at age 5. His first painting also hangs on the wall, framed by a very proud mom.

“I saw that day he had something special,” Gayle said.

From there, Zack took to drawing like a duck to water. After only one year of private art lessons, Zack began to teach himself.

“I want to eventually get into painting and 3D art,” he says.

But for now, Zack, under his business name, Ultimate Art Creations By Zack, is busy perfecting his talent and preparing for his first big event, the Mid-South Lumber Co. of NW FL Inc. Farm Fest on Oct. 12. Set up in booth #32, Zack will be creating caricatures and will also have some of his prints for sale. Special orders will also be taken, Zack said.

Zack is a savvy businessman. Realizing that caricatures take time, Zack has his own way of getting it done. That’s where his cell phone comes into play. Zack takes a picture of his subject and creates his piece by way of the photo. That allows his subject time to walk around Farm Fest and come back later to pick up their artwork.

“I would rather do it well and have them come back rather than take up their time to sit and miss everything else that’s going on,” he said.

Zack’s prints will include Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. When asked how he came up with drawing portraits of people obviously before his time, Zack said he just does.

“I was at a restaurant and I saw a painting of Marilyn Monroe. I took a picture of it and made it my own creation later on,” he said.

Have a favorite photograph you want drawn? Zack can do that too.

As evidence of this talent, Gayle proudly displayed one of Zack’s business cards showcasing three drawings: One of a car, one of his friend, and one of the family pet, drawn from photographs. All three were done remarkably well.

Zack has also done several special order projects, including an angler fish drawing for a man serving in Afghanistan. He has also created works of art for some of his friends. Zack says he is starting to see some profit, since opening his business in March of this year.

Gayle, a single parent with two children, Zack and her daughter, Cammy, is very supportive of her son’s ambitions. She spends most of her free time helping him along the way. Preparing for this weekend’s big event has been her focus.

“He is driven and doesn’t know how to quit,” his mom says. “My son has a God-given talent and he is so lucky to be able to know it now and begin to apply it now,” Gayle said. She added that some people go their whole lives without ever knowing where their place is in life. “I am so very proud of him.”

Zack is a focused young man. His favorite place to draw is the kitchen table. There he has his instruments of his craft: pencils, ruler, cell phone, light and a set of headphones. He likes to listen to music while he works. Once in “the zone,” Zack puts all his efforts into the task at hand. His latest piece is a portrait of The Beatles.

“I want to become a good artist, to be seen and have a voice. I want to get better and better and work toward perfection, I want to touch other people’s lives by showing them anything is possible,” Zack said.

Zack’s message is simple: Follow your dreams, no matter what your age. Zack is a great example of that message: At 14 he has done more than most people. He has a clear chosen path for himself, one that he loves, and one that will bring smiles to people’s faces. He is up and coming artist, and if Zack has his way, he will be a household name. And my money is on that he will get there.