It seemed to be a tragic end to a dream of becoming an artist when Norman McMillan was forced out of art school because he was colorblind. In return, Norman created an art genre, fueled by his orthodontic lab work, which enabled him to work around not being able to see and understand the color spectrum.
After being asked to leave art school, Norman joined his family orthodontic lab business. “My mother told me to go for what you know (the dental business), and use it as a vehicle for something you want to do later on in life,” Norman states. While working with three-dimensional dental appliances, Norman envisioned creating art in a similar fashion. He began replicating sailboats out of acrylic and stainless steel, and after ten years of work over thirty sculptures were completed. While creating sailboats still remains a passion of Norman’s, he needed to find a new direction for his art.
Since Norman was sixteen, scuba diving has been a passion of his. “Ever since I was a young boy, Jacques Cousteau has always been one of my idols,” Norman states, “I was always glued to my TV during his documentary specials.” While living in Canada, Norman began diving in the Great Lakes, and occasionally guided dive charters to the local shipwrecks around Georgian Bay. At this time, Norman began experimenting with underwater photography and videography. Although diving in the Great Lakes was exciting, Norman yearned for the day he would dive in the ocean.
While on vacation in Key Largo at the age of nineteen, Norman experienced the exciting new world of salt water diving for the first time. “The ocean is were I want to be for the rest of my life,” Norman stated after the dive. While In Key Largo, Norman rented an underwater camera strobe from a young photographer by the name of Steven Frink. Steven left a lasting impression on Norman by showing him it was possible to make a living off of scuba diving and underwater photography. When Norman returned to Canada, he went back to school for photography and was again told to leave because of his colorblindness.
At the age of 30, Norman moved to the Fort Lauderdale fulfilling his dream to live by the ocean. While still creating acrylic sailboats, he began replicating stainless steel dolphins riding the pressure waves, however, the aesthetics of the dolphins did not satisfy him. He then returned to Key Largo to visit Steven Frink for advice. Steven gave him a video of Bob Talbut’s underwater film work as well as a poster of his daughter with a bottlenose dolphin. Steven and Bob inspired him to film Atlantic Spotted Dolphins in the Bahamas, which fueled him to create hyper-realistic dolphin sculptures.
From the fine details of the dolphins to the intricate patterns of the water, Norman hand crafts every aspect of his exclusive, one of a kind sculptures. Unlike many artists who simply design and let others create their art, Norman feels that it is very important that the people who collect his art realize that he is intimately involved in ever phase of his creations, such as the filming of the animals in the wild, the hyper-realistic, detailed sculpting, and finally the delivery of the exclusive, one of a kind masterpieces.