Serendipity and good business practice seem incongruent partners, but Marshall Geddes of The Drawing House is confident fate is working in his favour.
Finding the now famous typed note, which referenced drawing classes from days long past , under the floorboards, at his 60 Mary Street studio while renovating, reinforced that.
Marshall Geddes has an impressive art pedigree, formal training at The Toronto School of Art, Art Students League of New York, Sheridan College and tutelage from some of the comic world’s best known names.
A fan of The Flash as a child, he gravitated to admire the talent of the creators behind the comic characters— Jack Kirby of Marvel and Carl Barks, of Uncle Scrooge, “the best cartoonist of all time, well researched, very creative, based loosely on Scrooge from Dickens, he wrote the Donald Duck comics.”
Describing himself as “not a crazy drawing person, I only ever wanted to draw comics.” Marshall Geddes shared with me a snapshot history of comics, from the days of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hurst, their discovery of creating colour in newsprint with the goal of increasing readership among nonreaders. Today the tradition remains—comics engage an audience with visual punch, in newspaper strips, comic books, graphic novels or anime, and are used as a teaching tool.
The Drawing House is soon to unveil a new slogan which encapsulates Marshall Geddes teaching style.
“Make your thinking visual; I don’t believe drawing is a gift or a talent, it is a skill you can learn. There is no such thing as a typical client, other than having the shared characteristics of wanting to learn to draw, an interest in the craft. No set age range, I teach students from 6-80 years of age. If you have the motor skills to write your name, you have the motor skills to draw; it’s so pervasive, this idea that drawing is a gift.”
The Ministry of Education reached out to Marshall Geddes to lead a workshop for their Educational Consultants, recognizing that implementation of drawing adds another tool for teachers in the classroom, as drawing and doodles are useful for students to improve memory.
Marshall Geddes credits his teachers and mentors. As a participant in the first cohort of the Artrepreneur program with Bob Minhas, he states “it made me feel like I was part of a community and encouraged me to be organized, Neeta Grover kept things running smoothly. The downside, there was trouble finding artistic mentors; the upside, we had business mentors. I met with Jim Nicholson, a Small Business Consultant for help with my business plan. I had Starter Company Funding capital both to start and later, plus mentors in the community.”
This summer Marshall Geddes is pleased to provide summer employment to student Ian Stone, from Innisdale Secondary School, longstanding volunteer at The Drawing House. Geddes lavishes credit on his fiancée, Lori Salas, who is “easily half the business, a talented animator on Thomas the Train, she develops our social media, promotes us, does freelance artwork and will be teaching this summer.”
If you want to push a pencil there are plenty of options: art classes, cartooning, sketching or summer camps. The Drawing House has evolved to include a carefully curated shop, stocked with quality art supplies.
Marshall Geddes is currently involved in a number of projects; working with Inge Gould on a biography about her late husband, famed multi-talented artist John Gould. Writing and illustrating a graphic novel with a romantic curve ball storyline, and a well-researched history comic book about pirates.
Building expansion is slated to provide a larger space for life drawing classes, while long term plans include hiring a manager for the store.
“Superheroes make sense in New York City with sirens all the time, it’s such a tall city it doesn’t feel ridiculous, I had my pilgrimage there. A nice thing about being a comic book artist, I can email my pages anywhere in the world.”
Barrie is home to entrepreneur Marshall Geddes, his superpower—to share his passion for drawing by teaching other how to engage in the craft.