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BYU Today

Quick Draw

By Whitney A. Archibald, ‘01

Mark Fordham

Illustration and music major Mark Fordham hangs up his guns and picks up a palette.

AFTER 16 years as a police officer, including 13 years as a SWAT team sniper, Mark S. Fordham, ’01, will soon be turning in his uniform to pursue a career he finds much more exciting–animation. Graduating this August, Fordham returned to school to develop his plentiful array of talents, with a double major in illustration (animation emphasis) and music (sound recording emphasis), and a minor in theatre and media arts. Now he spends more time creating characters than arresting them.

For most of his undergraduate career, Fordham has worked at the Provo Police Department and the BYU Police Department in addition to being a full-time student, a husband, and a father of five. While he admits that balancing work, school, and his large family has been challenging, he says, “It’s a lot of work but it’s fun. If you enjoy something it’s really not work.”

Fordham’s decision to come to Provo and go back to school after working as a police officer in Nashville, Tenn., for almost 10 years was a challenge in itself. Explaining one of the factors in his decision, Fordham says, “One night I was reading the parable of the talents, and suddenly I found my name in the print.” He decided to utilize the musical and artistic talents he had cultivated since elementary school.

He now channels these talents and his boundless creativity into his studies. “He’s in some ways kind of like a McGyver character because he’s always creating things to solve problems,” says Stanley P. Ferguson, ’68, professor of theatre and media arts. “He’s a very competent individual with multiple talents.”

Since the animation program at BYU won’t begin until fall 2001, Fordham has crafted his own BYU experience, enrolling in classes from puppetry to 3-D computer graphics. “Around my junior year, projects started overlapping in my illustration classes, my sound recording classes, and my film classes. It was very exciting for me,” he says.

Fordham enjoys writing, playing and recording music, and spending time with his family, especially in the outdoors. “I love my kids. Being with them is something that I never get tired of.”

Fordham’s other hobbies will soon become his career. Excited about this change, he says, “If I ever attain any success in this life–to a degree to where anyone would value my opinion–the advice that I would give is, find what you thoroughly like doing and then find a way to make a living at it.”

After graduation, Fordham hopes to work for a feature film animation company. “I look forward to working with a lot of great people on a lot of great projects,” he says. “The human experience is just too incredible not to try to capture some of the special moments in humanity. That’s what I hope to do through my music, through films, and through my art.”