Growing up in Fall River, Mass., a community now on the mend that had once fallen on hard times, fourth-year Animation student Solomon Carreiro didn’t follow the traditional path of high school/college/job.
Solomon, who describes himself as an “oil painter, graphic designer and photographer,” took a circuitous path to Woodbury — and the Fletcher Jones Foundation scholarship award, which he received earlier this month. With stops along the way at Bristol Community College in Fall River (including valued support from Bristol Community College chair Marisa Millard) and Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Mass., Solomon took a 15-year detour in retail, emerging to rediscover a passion that surfaced in second grade and actually never waned.
“For me, it was learning to be street smart,” Solomon recalls. “My family had trouble making ends meet, and as a child of immigrants whose highest level of education was middle school, I remember going to the store for my mom or dad with food stamps in hand, hoping to not be seen by other kids in my class. Reading comic books and watching cartoons was my escape from life.”
It may not have seemed like it at the time, but Solomon’s diet of cartoons and comic books would ultimately serve him well. ”I had wanted to go to art school but didn’t think I could afford it, so I didn’t take my academic work seriously,” he says. “Still, art was a focus throughout.”
Even after he had embarked on a career in retail, he found time to paint and take on graphic design jobs here and there. At about the time he anticipated becoming district manager, a pink slip arrived. It proved to be transformative.
“Todd McFarlane, who drew The Amazing Spider-Man in the late 1980s, was my favorite comic book illustrator – I had attempted to mimic his style for some time,” he recalls. “A few months before the layoff, my company sent all store managers to Anaheim for a convention. There were lot of people to meet and among them was — Todd McFarlane! I told him how he inspired me to draw and he suggested that if I still had that passion, I should go back to school.”
Which Solomon promptly did. “I knew I wanted to go to school in California, to be close to the industry,” he says. “Woodbury wasn’t on my radar until Roger Alix, a friend from Bristol Community College and a 2019 Woodbury Graphic Design grad, told me about it.”
Solomon is now thoroughly immersed in the field, with two internships in stop motion animation, both with Fullscreen Media in Playa Vista. Working in the art department, he has assisted with set design, painting props and characters for Hot Wheels YouTube episodes and, more recently, Monster Truck Madness.
He counts among his faculty mentors Angela Diamos, Judy Kriger, Jonathan Hoekstra, Eddie Rosas and Paul Matt Manning. Thanks to that unexpected meeting with The Amazing Spider-Man and a lot of hard work, Solomon is on track to meet his educational goals and graduate with a BFA, as scheduled.