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Art was more destiny than decision for Dustin Parker.

“I didn’t choose art. It chose me,” said Parker, a 2003 graduate from Friends University’s art program. “I never had a decision to make. Art was the only option for me.”

As to where the artist chose to pursue his destiny, Friends University was the clear decision.

“I had considered attending WSU, but I felt that the art department administration was very dismissive and had an elitist attitude. They seemed more concerned with increasing enrollment numbers than establishing relationships,” Parker said.

He said his experience with Friends University was quite the opposite.

“I had a portfolio review with Ted Krone, and he was really personable and had great feedback. I ended up choosing Friends University because I wanted to study art in an environment that would allow my creativity to flourish, and I felt Friends would provide that type of environment,” Parker said. “I wanted to study under instructors who cared about my artistic and intellectual development, and I felt I had found that at Friends.”

The creative nourishment Parker received at the University has served him well. The artist is currently the creative director at Resort Promo Wear, where he designs T-shirts. He is also a freelance graphic designer and artist. Some of his creative ventures are displayed on his website.

Parker said Friends University helped him see the potential in earning money while pursuing his artistic aspirations.

“I always wanted to be an artist, but I never knew how to earn a living at it,” he said. “I had never considered being a graphic designer. I just wanted to paint all day, but quickly realized that painting doesn’t pay the bills. I learned that I had to be a graphic designer or a teacher or a commercial illustrator to earn a comfortable living. Friends helped me pursue those possibilities with my own set of rules.”

As for the future, Parker said he isn’t quite sure.

“I’ve thrown around the idea of opening my own agency with other creative people, or going solo and focusing 100 percent of my energy toward my freelance business; but I haven’t really decided what I want to do when I grow up,” Parker said.