NFL Alum Will Barker Paints a Bright Future For Himself
Young NFL alum Will Barker (pictured at work above) put his football days behind him a decade ago and he has been successful in a completely different career in recent years.
The 33-year old Pennsylvania native was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cowboys out of the University of Virginia in 2010. He later that year resurfaced with the Buccaneers and then in 2011 with the Dolphins. He was released by Miami in 2012 and decided he would move on with his life’s work.
“I mentally checked out,” Barker recalls. “I was just kind of ready for some other fulfillment because I had reached that point—that pinnacle—I’d had been trying to get to for so long. After I had gotten there by making the NFL, it was kind of like ‘Now what?’.”
While he was with the Dolphins, Barker attended a class at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and began painting pieces on commission for family and close friends. After his Miami career, he stayed on the East Coast and rented an art studio in Vermont.
“I was trying to figure it out as I went,” Barker says. “I was trying to describe myself as an artist but it was all so new at the time. I just kept at it, kept at it.”
Barker’s hard work has paid off since moving to Denver seven years ago. Many of his paintings now center on Western themes.
“The Wild West is the jumping-off point,” he explains. “There’s so much history in Colorado, especially. That’s something that’s always interested me…that time period in the late 1800s, early 1900s—everyone was moving out here then and just winging it.”
Barker is not “winging it” as a Colorado-based artist. He just finished his first brick & mortar solo exhibition in Aurora last month. His work will be featured along with 50 other local visual artists next month in Denver. He also has a half-dozen outside mural projects lined up for the summer.
We at NFL Alumni congratulate Will Barker for being successful in his post-NFL life. He is one more example of a multi-talented individual taking a chance—and being rewarded–after his football career ends.