Grind Before Glory is an artist development program taught by industry professionals. Our courses are designed to be the first step on the path toward becoming a professional artist. 


Aspiring artists need to have a rock-solid foundation upon which to build the rest of their skillset. Without that foundation, pursuing the goal of being a professional artist becomes incredibly difficult, if not impossible. There is nothing more unfortunate than watching an aspiring artist not being able to pursue their passion because somewhere along their journey they missed the things that should have helped them build their foundation. 


Grind Before Glory is an art fundamental skill building program designed to help you hit the ground running as you pursue your dreams of becoming a professional artist. 



Michael Buffington, JR.

Founder, Director of Curriculum, Lead Instructor

Michael has been a Concept Artist in the Video Game and Entertainment Industry for almost 2 decades. He has worked on many projects, most notably Season 3 of Clone Wars for Lucasfilm Animation. For 8 years, Michael worked as a full time professor and department head for a large private art university in Northern California. 


Known for being a master curriculum designer, he was able to build both BFA and MFA Concept Art programs from the ground up. Using his educational philosophy of “Skill Building & Application”, Michael was able to create a program that gave students the ability to bring their skill set to, at, or near a professional level by the time of graduation regardless of what their skill level was upon entering the program.


For this reason, his program was ranked by The Rookies as the #1 program in the United States for Concept Art (#3 in the world in 2019, #1 in the US in 2020.) [LINK]


Now Michael is following his passion to help give aspiring artist a realistic chance of achieving their dreams by creating the Grind Before Glory art program designed to build the foundational skills necessary to put people on the path toward success. 


Michael also founded Drawaholics Anonymous; an extracurricular skill development community intended to create a culture of artistic excellence to make people fall in love with drawing. 

Richelle L. Cowan

Director of Operations

Remote out of Denver, Colorado, Richelle started her own journey in 2016 with the ultimate goal to be able to create immersive and enthralling stories. Recently graduated with her BFA Illustration she was able to study Fantasy Illustration, Graphic Novels/Narrative, Concept Art, and Advanced Writing. Coupled with an insatiable drive to learn and grow her newly developing skills; her degree went by as swiftly as a spring breeze through treetops. She embraced that when you enjoy what you do- it really doesn’t feel like work, and has yet to ‘work’ a single day since she started her art journey.

Meanwhile, it was in the Drawaholics that Richelle not only honed her drafting skills but also a love for nurturing her peer’s environment; helping make them as growth-driven, positive, and safe as possible for anyone who wished to work hard to build their own skills. Together her and the awesome Leadership team continue to grow the drawing addicted community, now welcoming hundreds of members from all over the world- regardless of unique current skill levels and challenges.

Now that she is out of school; Richelle is working as an Art Director at Innovation Theory. On top of additional freelance she also avidly works on building her own story universe. From drafting for a new graphic novel to writing and DMing home brew D&D campaigns- there is no shortage of new things coming from her little studio. Oh… By the way she’s a complete and total nerd.

Books, movies, TV, games- a total weirdo.

You were warned!

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Letitia Longbons

Instructor, Art Mentor

Letitia Longbons is a concept artist based in Chicago. She received her BA in Animation at DePaul University and MFA in Game Development Concept Art from the Academy of Art University. She is a leader and mentor at Drawaholics Anonymous, a sketching club founded at the Academy of Art University in 2017 by Michael Buffington.

Letitia specializes in environment art and architecture, but she also enjoys any opportunity to design characters, props, and creatures. She loves to experiment with art styles and is always writing down ideas for future art.

Letitia loves teaching people and helping them grow into the best individuals they can be. In 2018 she founded Art Hangouts, a weekly meeting safe space where Drawaholics Anonymous artists can unite to create art and meet people, no matter their background, project, or progress. She believes that with a little kindness, respect, and inclusivity, budding artists will thrive. She one day hopes to extend this vision beyond the borders of Drawaholics Anonymous and create a supportive community worldwide.