Commercial art studios in Kansas City and Corpus Christi, drafting and renderings for architectural firms (one of which designed the Air Force Academy) put bread on the table while most of his leisure time was spent in the studio. His last move before teaching was to St. Petersburg, Florida as a design draftsman for the city.

His first experience in the classroom was at the St. Petersburg Junior College, teaching night classes. Next to his love of painting, Ireland discovered a new vocation that would soon lead to a career in higher education