From Finance to Fine Art: How Trask Ferrero Got His Start

Trask Ferrero is a designer, painter, and videographer from Northern California. Here he shares the story of how a chance meeting with a famous artist changed his life.


Written by Trask Ferrero


I was in my mid-twenties enrolled in graduate business school and attempting to find my place in the world. One night after work, I decided to stop by and say hello to my good friend Pete, the popular owner of Gardino’s, a long standing family owned, Italian restaurant in my hometown of Los Gatos, California.


Pete had always been a true friend and adopted older brother to me which is why I often visited him. His charisma habitually shined through leading many locals to visit his restaurant not only for the great food but simply because they liked him.


That night Pete would use his super-connector status to introduction me to a friend and patron of his who also happened to be one of the most well known artist in America. This introduction would eventually lead to a change in the general direction of my life, taking me away from the analytical world of finance and into the humanistic realm of art.


 Carmela Laino by Trask Ferrero


As I walked into the restaurant, Pete yelled to me, “Hey Mike. Get over here! I got someone for you to meet!” As I approached, he exclaimed, “This is Thomas Kinkade, the Godfather of Art! He’s been a friend and customer of mine for years.” Thomas then went “Yeahhh, the Godfather of Art… I like that!” I laughed at the introduction and the way they played off each other’s dynamic personalities. I said hello and shook the newly dubbed Godfather of Art’s hand and took a seat next to them. That night the three of us stayed at the restaurant way past closing. We shared wine, traded war stories, and got into some great discussions. At the end of the night we all made plans to meet up again.


The following week we met at Pete’s sister’s restaurant, Chicago Steak & Fish. We proceeded to have a great time again. This led to further plans to hang out together which eventually evolved into a nightly ritual. Over time, we developed into a tight knit group which Kinkade dubbed, “The Family.” Kinkade was the Godfather, Pete was the Consigliere, and being in my twenties, I was the young Michael Corleone of the group. While we were social, we also discussed our hopes, dreams, and struggles with one another on a regular basis.


 Golden Gate by Trask Ferrero


Pete was working to capture his dream of expanding his small hole in the wall restaurant into a place that would support his entire family. I was still in graduate school and working to save a struggling non-profit that had meant a lot to me because it had played an instrumental role in teaching me to manage a childhood diagnosis of type one diabetes. Thomas was attempting to reconcile with his family while coping with the long standing demons that would ultimately cut his life tragically short.


What had initially started as social club morphed into a roundtable for discussion and a family like support system.


One night, I confided in Thomas that I was having a difficult time seeing the non-profit that I had been working so hard to save, edge towards bankruptcy. I was passionate about the mission and programs which affected the lives of nearly 10,000 people annually. I had started my tenure there as a child and was now the Treasurer. No matter how hard I tried or how creative I got, I could not see any way for the organization to remain solvent. After 20+ years of great memories, I was faced with a very difficult reality. It was much like watching a terminally ill friend slipping away.


The Experience Six by Trask Ferrero


That night Thomas listened to my story. He told me about his personal struggles and explained that when he faced the most difficult times in his life, he was always able to find solace in his creative process. He said “Mike, you should paint something.”


I knew that he a famous painter, but I couldn’t help but think… Is he serious? PAINT WHAT? I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO PAINT. I never went to art school. I had a business degree and was working on a second one.


After a moment, and a long swig from my drink, I said, “Uh, Thomas?… I didn’t go to art school… I have no clue how to paint…”


His eyes immediately lit up as he loudly proclaimed, in his typical theatrical fashion, that he would teach me to paint if I wanted to learn about art and that it wouldn’t be the stuff they teach in school.


 Sati Rajani by Trask Ferrero


Kinkade then went into an antidote about his personal experience, telling me that he grew up with nothing but at the time discovered the work of Norman Rockwell. It provided him with an escape allowing him to get through some pretty tough times and how it helped him becoming the most celebrated living artist of his time. Kinkade was proud of how far he’d come.


He told me that some professors, artists, and critics had harshly judged and even mocked his work, even though they could never produce it themselves; that they focused on themselves for inspiration and created art only they could enjoy.


He encouraged me to learn that art isn’t about me—that it’s about other people and the benefits it bestows upon them, how it reflects the wonderful moments in people’s lives, and can even provide comfort and inspiration. He also left me with the idea that we paint things like the ocean not because it’s our place, but so we can share it with people not fortunate enough to visit it.


 Zen VII by Trask Ferrero


I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. Thomas Kinkade had offered to be my private art mentor. It was as if a golfer was going to get lessons in baseball from Babe Ruth. Even though it was completely outside my wheelhouse, it was a once in a lifetime offer, and one I couldn’t refuse.


The lessons began and over time, Thomas would explain his personal philosophy and immerse me in the world of fine art. He explained the details and countenances of his works and those of his extensive personal collection. He critiqued my pieces and collaborated with me on others. One time I created a colorful, Modern styled piece, Thomas said that he did not care for Modern art, but the painting reminded him of a Paul Klee. Sadly I wasn’t even sure who Paul Klee was at the time. Thomas however encouraged me to continue. He went as far as to place one of my more tongue-in-cheek pieces in his house among his collection of priceless works which included originals by W. A. Bouguereau and Norman Rockwell.


 Miami by Trask Ferrero


Shortly after, Thomas passed away. It was an unnecessary tragedy and the end to the saga of a truly complicated, conflicted master, who at the end of it all was truly just human in both his amazing triumphs and his personal failures.


Pete was asked to be a pallbearer. We both attended the private ceremony together along with Kinkade’s closest friends and family. After the funeral, Pete continued on to expand his restaurant which has since developed into one of the most popular spots in Silicon Valley. If you visit there today you will see a picture of Kinkade hung over the owners table where Pete and I often sit.


 5th Avenue by Trask Ferrero


I realized that I had a love of art and left the finance world for a period to pursue it. In the process I took the seed of what I learned from Thomas and let it grow. I began working under the pseudonym Trask Ferrero. To date I have created hundreds of pieces. I have begun the process of releasing them through an amazing partnership with These are the gifts, which I hope to share with the world.


 Coastal Fog by Trask Ferrero


Thanks so much, Trask! Find the entire Trask Ferrero Collection on Great BIG Canvas.