Oil Man

Ten years ago, Jason Rich took a chance on an art career. That gamble paid off, and today the Utah artist's work has earned the respect of collectors, galleries and working cowboys.


Just out of college in the mid-1990s, western artist Jason Rich had a decision to make. He'd spent a year putting his art-education degree to work, originally figuring a teaching job would fit perfectly into his plan to develop his own artwork.

"I quickly realized that I was either going to be a good teacher who painted once in a while, or a crummy teacher who painted a lot,"Jason admits. "And I couldn't be the latter. I enjoyed teaching, but it just didn't leave me much time to paint."

So Jason and his wife, Kari, made a decision. He gave up his guaranteed paycheck and headed for the Jackson, Wyoming, art galleries in search of someone willing to give an up-and-coming painter a break.

"I had a friend who'd hit the galleries right out of school, and he convinced me to give it a shot,"Jason confesses. "I just figured it was the right time to do it. Either you try it when you're young, or you have to wait until you're 60 and a little more established. Those are the two times most people can afford to take a chance on being an artist. Trying to do it somewhere in the middle, when you've got a family to support, is a tough way to go."