For Jim Kasper, choosing a career as a wildlife artist was both a victory and a process of honest self-examination. When it came to that crucial crossroads, Jim says. "Art was the only choice that stood up to the criteria of what I wanted. It was just part of my being. So the creative process won out over other interests." It was his love of the outdoors, however, that compelled Jim to focus on wildlife art. Growing up in the Lake Country region of central Minnesota, Jim developed a keen interest and knowledge of the region's bountiful wildlife. Capturing his environment on canvas, he admits was, "a natural direction for somebody who just loves nature." Following high school, Jim attended the Minneapolis College of Art & Design where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. After graduating, Jim began his professional career working as an artist in the Kansas City, Missouri headquarters of Hallmark greeting cards. Although he counts his time at Hallmark as among the most valuable of learning opportunities, his love of the Lake Country eventually drew him back to Minnesota. Working in acrylics, Jim explains the creative process begins with extensive field experience. "Usually it is spurred on by some event during my travels that inspires me to paint a specific incident. Then I filter the event through my life experiences to create an artwork that is accurate and exciting. I believe that the more vast my experience with the subject, the greater the flexibility and potential I have to create a painting that is more focused, authentic and enthusiastically presented," he says. With each new artwork Jim strives to communicate a clear message while advancing the mastery of his craft. In viewing his art, Kasper reflects, "I want the viewer to be moved emotionally to the extent that they have a clear view that provides this rich diversity of wildlife and habitats - an unlimited resource of beauty and the opportunity to enjoy it." The great challenge, Jim says, is to continue improving the quality of his art, to grow artistically and become the best artist possible. Jim is an active conservationist who has supported many organizations and received numerous awards of distinction. In 1996, he was honored as the Featured Artist at the Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin Deer Classics. The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association chose Jim as its Artist of the Year in 1985, 1989 and 1997. he was recognized by the Wildlife Heritage Association and Geese Unlimited as Artist of the Year, and has received an Award of Merit at the Wildlife and Western Art Collectors Society Show in Minneapolis. Jim has created fund-raising art prints for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the National Wild Turkey Federation. His works have been featured in numerous magazines and on many nature theme products. Jim counts himself as one of those blessed to work in a field they truly enjoy. "I am very fortunate to have a profession that allows me to make a living and is something I love to do," he says. "It's the core of who I am."