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Travis Simpkins Photo: Steven King © Worcester Magazine

Travis Simpkins Avant garde on duty Finding a career that can ignite your creativity is every artist's dream. For Travis Simpkins, Central Control room guard at WAM, guarding others' creations serves as an inspiration for his own. For the past 16 years, Simpkins has been in one role or another at the Museum: restoration assistant, education assistant, part-time guard, and his current role monitoring WAM's security, climate control, and fire systems, ensuring the overall safety of the collection. All helped shape the professional artist he has been since 1999. This 34-year-old freelance illustrator and portraitist, educated at Anna Maria College and later under the tutelage of photorealist artist James Frederick Mueller of Arizona, works independently on portraits for clients throughout the U.S. and Europe. Simpkins also creates sketches of works within the collection. Having a special place in his heart for WAM—and not just because he met his fiancée, Janet, here—Simpkins keeps its goals and aspirations in mind, even when away from the Museum. For example, in 2010 Simpkins connected his friend and collector, the late Paul Falcigno, with the Museum. This led to Falcigno’s gift of over 300 Japanese prints, including 94 woodblock prints by the artist Yoshida To shi. “As a result, the Worcester Art Museum can now claim the distinction of having one of the largest collections of Yoshida's naturalistic works in the United States,” Simpkins says. When asked what he likes best about the Museum, this artist and museum guard mentions the third floor American Galleries and marble busts in the Roman Gallery. But he says his absolute favorite thing about the Museum is the diverse talent of the staff. “Beyond their everyday duties, there are visual artists, musicians, photographers, writers, sculptors, designers, actors, poets, craftsmen, dancers, entrepreneurs and animators—a really wonderful group.”

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