John Palmer Art
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John Ross Palmer's

Escapist Mentorship Program

Please click here to read about our Refuse to Struggle Campaign to build an Escapist Artist Gallery & Studios!

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Escapism (n.) The Art Movement of Artist John Ross Palmer that is devoted to forever destroying the stereotype of the struggling artist.

                                   Click here to Download the 2015 Escapist Mentorship Application!                                                    

                             The Deadline to have an Application postmarked is December 31, 2014. 


John Ross Palmer's Escapist Mentorship Program was founded in 2009 as a casual way for a fun group of local Houston artists to meet, communicate with each other about art and business while learning by example from Artist John Ross Palmer as a group leader.  In 2010, the program was elevated by the business of John Palmer Art by having a juried application process.  Applicants were required to submit images and answer a series of essay questions.  Applications were received from all over the United States of America--and one was received from an artist named Wavinya Ngei--a full-time resident of the country of Kenya.  Since the first year of formalizing the process, the program has grown and evolved as it gained prestige.  Applications have been received from all over the country and the world: South Africa, Indonesia, England and India.

                                           John Ross Palmer with the Escapists

In 2011, an in-person interview component was introduced.  In 2012, the "in-person" interview was modified to occur via Skype because one of the Finalists and eventual Escapist Artists was a permanent resident of London, England.  In 2012, the Escapist of the Year Award was created.  The winner was decided by private voting ballot of all current and former Escapist Artists.  Escapists of the Year now includes Tra` Slaughter (2012) and William H. Miller (2013).  For 2014, the Escapist of the Year will be decided by private voting ballot from all of Palmer's 350+ VIP Collector Database.  

                               William H. Miller wins the 2013 Escapist of the Year Award

In 2013, Palmer launched the massive Refuse to Struggle Campaign to build an Escapist Artist Gallery & Studios adjacent to his personal gallery in the Historic Houston Heights.  That Summer, he raised over $50,000 cash-on-hand from top art patrons before launching a crowd-funding experiment on Indiegogo.  In just 46 days, the Refuse to Struggle online campaign earned $76,113 from over 300 contributors from all over the world.  Construction of the state-of-the-art "ultimate artist training ground" has taken the lion's share of 2014.  For 2015, three Escapist Artists will have free use of their own Personal Artist Studio ("Goehausen," "Jennings" and "Patriarca") plus exclusive show space in the Franklin Gallery.

               Palmer...Proud of the Construction                              Escapist Artist Gallery & Studios (In Progress)

In 2014, 8 Finalists were chosen from a wide range and talented group of applicants.  A "speed dating" format was introduced to the interview process where Finalists rotated to three separate interview rooms and judges.  This same year, all artists received a detailed report of their scoring from both the written and interview phases of the application process.  Applicants appreciated this feedback on their hard work and so this element will continue in the future. 

Formality was added to the structure of the Escapist Mentorship Program in 2014 with the requirement that Escapists must complete assignments and earn badges in the following areas in order to graduate: Correspondence, Event, Fame, Finance, History, Journal, Mechanics, Sales and Philanthropy.  Now, when someone "graduates" from Palmer's Escapist Program, they will have a proven record of involvement and accomplishment.  At the onset of 2014, Escapists Sue Donaldson, Lulu Lin and Joseph Reinholtz were welcomed into the program at a private initiation ceremony where they took the Pledge of the Escapist. View the 2014 Escapist Assignments. View the 2013 Escapist Assignments.

                                     Palmer Administers the Pledge of the Escapist

Since its inception, being selected as an Escapist Artist in John Ross Palmer's Escapist Mentorship Program is entirely free.  Besides a nominal cost to apply, there is no fee whatsoever for the hours and hours Palmer and his husband Ryan Lindsay pour into giving back to the art world and promoting the talented artists that have been admitted into the program.  The "heart" of the Escapist Mentorship Program is the individualized coaching and mentoring that Palmer and Lindsay give to each Escapist--outside of the assignments.  Escapists call for personal meetings...and they get them.  Palmer and Lindsay don't "force" an Escapist to meet--the artist gets from the program exactly what they put into it.

The Process

To become an Escapist Artist, the artist must complete-in-full the Application that is downloadable at the top of this page.  For all timely-submitted and complete applications, a four or five person jury then scores the applications on a point system.  (Artist John Ross Palmer is therefore only fraction of the voting power and he retains no personal selection or veto power.) A separate jury scores the Finalists for the interview phase without a review of the written applications.  The highest combined scores from the written and interview phases determine the next Escapist class.  

John coaches the artists not only on evolving their art technique--but also on how to promote their art, retain exclusivity, have savvy business salesmanship and overall personal and professional confidence.  John Palmer's business and life partner, attorney Ryan Lindsay, is highly involved too--meeting with the Escapists at their discretion to coach them on effective marketing, running a small business, the advantages of sharing your art online and how to improve their website design.  Unlike many other artists that are concerned with the competition, John Ross Palmer sees the inherent benefit of elevating all artists to add power to the profession.

                                        Palmer Coaches Anita Varadaraju (2012)

Honors and Accolades

Every year since 2010, the Escapists have been celebrated and honored at a casual Afternoon of Escapism and black-tie Evening of Escapism at Palmer's Historic Houston Heights Art Gallery.  Palmer invites all of his collectors to support the hardworking artists...and he features them and their artwork in an annual high-quality Escapism Catalogue.  For the Afternoon and Evening of Escapism, the Escapists are involved in all stages of the planning process to learn how to throw future events on their own terms.  They are responsible for hanging their own works as well as negotiating price and selling their works once the art collectors arrive. 

                   The 2011 Escapists (Gala-Seibert, Gonzalez and Vasquez) with Palmer

Palmer has been hugely influential in launching the careers of the Escapist Artists on the international stage.  He has showcased their artwork at major global art fairs including Art Chicago and the Los Angels Art Show.  

          Medina (2010), Gala-Seibert (2011), Palmer and Slaughter (2013) at the 2013 LA Art Show

The Escapists


Justin E. Garcia   

Karen Hatch         

Taft McWhorter     

Ronnie Queenan  

Belinda Smith      


Kelley Devine       

Ryan Fugate         

Edgar Medina        

If you would like to view a Photo Album that documents the year of mentorship for the 2010 Escapist Artists, please click here.


Raul Gonzalez

Nubia Gala Seibert

Zak Vasquez

If you would like to view a Photo Album that documents the year of mentorship for the 2011 Escapist Artists, please click here.


Leigh Armstrong  (Armstrong was the youngest Escapist in history at age 18.)

Sonya Cuellar

Tra` Slaughter (Escapist of the Year)

Lauren Jay Wondra Smyth (Smyth was the first "international" Escapist as a full-time resident of London, England.)

Anita Varadaraju

If you would like to view a Photo Album that documents the year of mentorship for the 2012 Escapist Artists, please click here.


Tina Duryea

William H. Miller (Escapist of the Year)

Joe Mendietta

Lan Norwood

Lee E. Wright

If you would like to view a Photo Album that documents the year of mentorship for the 2013 Escapist Artists, please click here.


Sue Donaldson (Donaldson is the most "mature" Escapist in history.  She has grandchildren that are older than her Escapist comrades.)

Lulu Lin

Joseph Reinholtz 

If you would like to view a Photo Album that documents the year of mentorship for the 2014 Escapist Artists, please click here

The Millikin Escapist

In 2012, John Palmer Art collector Patrick Evans endowed the John Ross Palmer Escapism Scholarship at his beloved alma mater, Millikin University in Decatur Illinois.  For many years, Evans has been captivated by Palmer's wise business acumen and passion for coaching artists, and so it was his desire give back to his school and make this opportunity available for a young, emerging artist at the onset of his or her career.  After a year of campus-wide promotion, a handful of talented students were nominated by the faculty with two Finalists submitting written applications and appearing via Skype for an interview.  The inaugural Millikin Escapist, Mr. Michael Shultz, has worked with Palmer and Lindsay diligently in 2014--mainly focusing on making the trip to Houston to appear and show to Palmer's plethora of collectors at his annual black-tie gala, An Evening of Escapism.  Recently, Shultz has launched an Indiegogo Campaign asking for assistance to get him to Houston to make this dream come true.  

                         Evans and Lindsay Interview Shultz                                                          Shultz at Millikin with Lyle Salmi                                    


If you would like to meet the 2009 Escapists, please click here for Part I.  Click here for Part II.

If you would like to meet the 2010 Escapists, please click here for Part I.  Click here for Part II.

If you would like to meet the 2011 Escapists, please click here.  Click here for Part II.

If you would like to meet the 2012 Escapists, please click here.  Click here for Part II.  Click here for Part III.


Click here to read testimonials from the Escapist Classes 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. 

Why Should I Apply?

Artists of all career stages that have a vested interest in improving themselves and their business are highly encouraged to apply.  Every year, scores and scores of Artists tell Palmer that they intend to apply.  Only a fraction do.  Those that apply, whether accepted or not, always tell Palmer that they are proud to have gone through the application process that ended up teaching them a lot about themselves.  So, the question is not really, "Why should I apply?," but, rather, "Why not?"


                                                        The Inaugural Gathering of the Escapists (2012)

John Plamer Ast


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