Steve Whitlock Game Fish Art
I was born in Tampa in 1959 and raised in Naples. As a boy my dad and I would often stop along the Tamiami Trail, break out the fly rods and catch Bass and Bluegill. Growing up fishing and hunting the Everglades was an interesting and unique part of my life that shaped a lifelong love of the outdoors.
After school and returning from a four year enlistment in the Navy I went into the family plastering business with my dad. Every weekend I would still spend as much time outdoors as possible. In 1985 I decided to make a living from my experience as an outdoorsman and earned my Captains License. I guided clients around Naples and the Everglades for Snook, Redfish and Tarpon on weekends, while still working in the family construction business. I met my wife Lynn in 1985 and a year later we were married. I continued to work in the plastering trade and fished as much as possible. Our daughter Casey was born in 1986 and things were going well.
Living and guiding in the “glades” in the 80’s was full of temptation and easy money. Marijuana smuggling was a fast buckthat I should have had the good sense to stay away from, but I didn’t, and in 1989 I was arrested by US Customs for conspiracy to import marijuana. I plead guilty and was sentenced to 5 years federal time. It was while in prison that I first started to develop an interest in painting. After all, I had plenty of time. I was released on parole after 26 months and returned home to my wife and daughter. I went back to work but continued to paint as much as possible. After a great deal of encouragement and support from my wife, family & friends, I applied to the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL. I wanted to be a wildlife artist.
In 1993 at age 35, and only a month after sending my application to Ringling, I fell two stories off a building while working on a job site and was out of the full time construction business. I guess it really was time for a career change! While recuperating from the accident, I received an acceptance letter from the art school. We sold our home, quit our jobs, took our daughter Casey out of school and moved to Sarasota. I started school full time; Lynn found work and we purchased an older home. I started a plaster repair business to help make ends meet. We now had a new life and direction and were determined to make it work.
I graduated from Ringling in 1998 earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree as an Illustrator. Since that time I’ve focused on game fish and wildlife art. Around 1990 I started illustrating game fish and marine art on navigational charts. I work in a variety of mediums, but chose acrylic as my medium of choice due to the ability to use the fast drying medium transparently, or more direct and opaque. It was an instant success. I had found my niche in the game fish market.
While still in school I applied to the late Florida Governor Lawton Chiles for a Pardon. Once that was granted, I applied to the President of the United States to see if I could get my second amendment rights re-instated. On December 11, 2007, five years after applying, I received a call from the United States Pardon Attorney, wishing me a “Merry Christmas on behalf of The President of the United States…” Now, that’s a call you don’t get everyday! It was finally over; it took twenty years of hard work and doing things right to undo the mistakes made in just one night.