When someone asks "When did you know you wanted to be an artist?" I know the exact moment...
I was a student at Halldale Elementary school in Torrance, CA...My kindergarten class was tasked to do a painting of "Sam the Olympic Eagle" in honor of the 1984 Los Angeles olympics. As you can see here. I pretty much rocked it.
For those of you that don't remember Sam the Olympic Eagle, here he is. Heck, this is even the image they gave us to copy!! You can see how close I got.
Well, the teacher must have seen a bit of talent in my painting because she submitted it to a contest of some sort, and I was the only kindergartner amongst a bunch of six graders. It was scary, I was a shy kid, but a group of Asian sixth graders took me under their wing for the night, and made me feel like I belonged. (Maybe this is why I have always been comfortable being the only white dude in large groups of Asians?)
It's funny because I don't remember the creation of the painting UNTIL my teacher told me it was good. After that, my memory is crisp, the painting was unfinished, I hadn't painted the eyes; and, I DO remember the fear I had of messing it up after someone told me it was good so far (maybe this is why I don't like showing my work in progress?) So I needed to paint the eyes, and two girls in class said they wanted to help, I was shy and also interested in girls (yes, 5 years old seems young to be interested in girls, but I was interested in having a girlfriend even at that age, ohhh Heather McGinnis how I loved you...), so I just sat there as two girls fought over who could paint eyes better. One of them painted the left eye real nice, she delicately put the white gleam on there... when she was going to put the gleam in the other eye, the second girl said "I can do the eyes good too"; my scalped tingled (My scalp tingles when people are touching my property, it's like my spidey sense) and my stomach lurched and she shoved a finger full of white paint and smeared it around... she had ruined my painting. (Since that time, I don't like people doing any of my work, I will do all the work myself thank you very much, and I know I can do it better than anyone else!)