The Worlds Most Famous Arena...one way or another
Ive been an artist since I can remember.
Ive been a wrestler for 14 years and counting.
Ive been a professional wrestling artist for a single year.
These facts have told the story of my life through so many different avenues. From drawing the cover of “Bambi” when I was 5 years old to creating mashups of my favorite wrestlers and TV icons, art has been with me my entire life. It was what I always aimed to be. It let me show who I was in a way I was comfortable with. It is truly who I am.
The earliest memory of wrestling is seeing Macho Man on a relatives TV. I didnt know it at the moment but the image stuck with me and grew and grew into the passion I have for wrestling today and forever. I started wrestling with my cousin at the age of 14 in my backyard emulating the icons I watched. That evolved into my teenage years of backyard wrestling with my best friends. Instead of baseball practice, we set up elaborate shows and took wrestling as serious as we knew how. Upon graduating I wanted two things. To earn my degree in some form of art (I ended up with my degree in Fine Arts/Graphic Design), and to wrestle. I did both at the same time and got trained while earning my degree, which in hindsight was a foreshadowing of the next 15 years of my life.
Being an in-ring performer and athlete is something like a drug addiction. Its highs are some of the best feelings ive ever felt and its lows are life changing at times. Luckily I had MANY years of traveling the country and world and meeting and working with some of the best wrestlers and companies in the world. I chased my goals and accomplished most of them, until 12 years in I shattered my leg during a match. This was the moment my life changed. At the time I felt it was changing in a negative way. I was out over a year and upon return, realized I wouldn’t be the same athlete I once was. I pushed mentally and physically but in my heart I knew a change had to be made. My goals in-ring were put on the back burner.
I have worked with Beyond Wrestling since it was a backyard league of upcoming wrestlers. I was a steady part of the active roster until my injury, so I needed something to keep me relevant at shows, and showcasing my art was the idea I ran with. I started doing portraits and pops of wrestlers, and soon got the idea of doing special ring canvas designs for special events, that event being Americanrana. This soon became yearly tradition and I got to showcase my art and skills in a whole new way. New goals came to light and I was focused as never before.
I started doing canvases for other companies, mainly Game Changer Wrestling, a company that has now become my second home. I cant thank GCW for every opportunity they give me to help showcase my talents and achieve new goals. Joey Janelas Lost in NY event showcased a brand new canvas I made, and it caught the eyes of many. This led to working on Impacts Wrestlings canvas for their big event in NYC. Which led to…
Madison Square Garden is a sacred place to me. Ive seen countless Phish shows there. Ive seen one of the most meaningful Wrestlemania moments ive experienced in Benoit winning the title. MSG has such an amazing energy and connection for me. Its the mecha, and every wrestlers goal in some way. I was never on the path to working the Garden, so it honestly wasnt even a reality to me, until early this year. ROH/NJPW had announced theyd be having a show at MSG during Mania weekend. In early January I was contacted to paint the Lionmark logo on a canvas for their US shows in North Carolina and Tennessee. That canvas was what made me realize I should shoot for the moon, and that my ability could take me wherever I wanted it to if I worked hard enough and showed my skill.
I knew MSG was on the horizon and after working with NJPW once before, I wanted to reach out about the possibility of MSG. I typed an email and attached my portfolio, and I couldn’t get the courage to send it…
Fear had taken over and doubt weighed heavy. MSG?! Cmon Dave, thats too big for you. I let it win for a couple days. Then one morning I awoke with a jolt bright and early, and I said fuck it, no guts no glory. I went back to the email and this is the intense part, AS I WAS TYPING IT, I got an email from ROH about working on the canvas for MSG! What are the odds? I took that as a huge sign that If you want something in life, dont be afraid to try for it, because you never know what can happen.
MSG came and it was everything I could have imagined. It was the weight of not wrestling anymore being lifted off my shoulders and feeling like my hard work with art, and even my in ring work had paid off and led me to this moment. It showed me that my unique skills in the field of art and wrestling can take me to places I hadn’t even imagined. I want to push so much more now. I want to be contracted by a large company (I have my eyes on a few in particular) , I want to showcase my ring canvases in other countries and stadiums. I want to work hard and make people smile with my art.
Achieving your dream is possible, even if you reach it in a different way than you imagined.
Endless thanks to NJPW, ROH, GCW, Beyond, Kevin Kelly, Brian Kanabroski and everyone else along the way!
Dave Cole Loves You
Give me a follow on Twitter and Instagram @daveypainting or email firstname.lastname@example.org to contact me, thanks!