The illustrator Jules Guerin had an unusual combination of strengths. He blended the careful precision of an architectural engineer with the exaggerated, romantic colors of an impressionist.

Guerin's technical drawing skills and mastery of perspective were much in demand by architectural firms around the country.

By infusing architectural drawings with color, he made them so appealing it almost guaranteed that the design would be accepted and the project funded.

At the same time, Guerin's vivid colors and stylized designs made him a popular illustrator of books and magazines. He specialized in painting exotic subjects.

Which art school could teach Guerin two such disparate skills? Or was it just natural talent?

Actually, Guerin learned from two guys he happened to meet along the way. First, In 1889, Guerin's mother was renting out a spare room in their home when a young artist named Winsor McCay showed up at their door. McCay had just been evicted by his previous landlady and needed someplace to stay. McCay and the young Guerin soon became fast friends, and McCay taught Guerin his special techniques for drawing in perspective. McCay went on to create the revolutionary comic strip, Little Nemo In Slumberland, where he proved himself a genius with perspective indeed.

A few years later, Guerin happened to meet another artist, Maxfield Parrish, who took Guerin under his wing, introducing him to the art directors at Century Magazine and teaming with Guerin on projects. It wasn't long before Parrish was a nationally famous colorist, with Guerin following in his footsteps.

So much depends on who you happen to meet, and at what stage of your development, and under what circumstances. Perhaps if Picasso had been evicted from a room in Chicago, Guerin would have a third specialty as a cubist.