STUDENT SPOTLIGHT ON: ANDREW CRAFT

First-year Andrew Craft talks about his work.

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1. Please tell us about yourself and how you got here.

 I went to the University of Texas for my undergraduate degree, which is in philosophy. In Spring of 2011, the Daily Texan, who I was drawing comics for, held a “Comics Art Show.” I submitted a bunch of weird watercolors that I mainly produced to impress a girl I knew would be at the show (that didn’t pan out). The girl curating it (different girl) convinced me to pursue art at the graduate level, and after sifting through a bunch of really conceptual painting MFA programs, I found this program, and it seemed like a good fit. I’m realizing now that being a sucker for cute art girls has had a considerable effect on my career.

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2. Can you talk about your Book Seminar project? How did you come up with all those crazy characters?

 For the first semester project I did a series of 12 posters for movies that don’t exist, each concerning a supernatural character. I guess my main concern was that I thought I would lose my mind if I tried to focus on a single subject for too long, so I chose a project that would allow me the freedom to draw different things and have fun with my compositions. I’ve always been interested in character design and concept art, though. A lot of my art education came from trolling the conceptart.org forums for advice and looking at the sketchbooks of crazy-talented concept artists.

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3. Please explain briefly your creative process. How much spontaneity is involved when you create an image?

 Usually I’ll start brainstorming by thumbnailing the most obvious and boring compositions first, and then try and figure out how to radically change them or just go onto something completely different from there. Inspiration for an image can be extremely spontaneous, though. For example, I recently saw a rat drawing that Dave McKean did for Coraline and I loved the abrupt, shaky bends in the tail, which immediately inspired a series of illustrations involving abruptly-curving tube-like subjects of my own (the necks of a hydra, an earthworm twisting to kiss itself, etc).

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4. Talk about your book project for Marshall and Carl’s class. What is it about and how has it been to write and illustrate a children’s book for the first time.

 It’s a weird one! It is about a young ballerina who is climbing a giant beard. Think Rapunzel vs. Jack and the Beanstalk vs. a nasty beard. I wanted to do an adventure story with a young girl protagonist. I taught swimming lessons to kids in Austin before I came here, and a lot of my female students were either coming from or going to ballet lessons, so I decided to make my character a ballerina. So far it’s been a blast - I’m trying to tell the story with wildly varying compositions, leaving just enough visual clues to maintain clarity.

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5. Last semester you were working mostly digitally. Why did you decide to approach a completely manual technique for your children’s book?

 I was struggling for a while in the first part of last semester. I was trying to use different workflows for my Viktor pieces and was losing continuity, so I ended up reverting to a style I was more comfortable in to finish the project. At the same time that was going on, I was using Carl’s class as a painting workshop, since I’d never really painted before. Carl would come by every once in a while and carve something into my painting with his fingernail or drop some bit of wisdom. So at the end of the semester I had what I felt like was a pretty strong editorial (digital) portfolio from Viktor’s class and a hunger to paint more from Carl’s, so I decided to throw digital stuff to the wind for the semester (aside from some commissions), and pursue acrylics. 

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6. I know that meeting John Hendrix was a big deal for you and that he inspired you to do many things. Please tell us about this.

 John Hendrix did a lot of things for me. For starters, immediately after his guest lecture, I bought a nice sketchbook and red and blue pens. I don’t normally like to use sketchbooks, I just draw on scraps and scan them in, but I started doing some autobiographical drawings - basically a combination of life drawing and illustrating whatever comes to me - and it’s been a really good way for me to branch out and explore ideas. He’s also a master of handwritten type, and integrating type into my illustrations has always been a pain for me, so I’ve been practicing hand-lettering in many different typefaces since he visited.

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7. What has being in this program meant to you so far?

 This program is what you make of it. You can come here and do the bare minimum, refrain from experimentation, disregard the advice of your classmates and professors, and leave the same person you were when you came in, but I don’t understand that. The faculty is made up of illustration icons that are beyond friendly and approachable, the studios are located in the hustling capital of the world (Manhattan), you have as much to learn from your classmates as from your teachers, and the opportunities and experiences the school provides are beyond counting. Wasting your time here is just… ridiculous.

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8. Recommend a movie, a book, a song, a picture or an artist that you find inspiring.

The Art of Oddworld is a book of concept art from a 1990s video game series that probably had the biggest influence on my art-making as a kid. I also really love the work of Rich Kelly and Enrique Fernandez. And honestly, Carl and Marshall’s respective studio visits were amazing.

 9. Recommend an online or physical resource that you consider informative or instructive for artists.

 Austin Kleon’s tumblr is a great place for any artist to visit. He posts inspirational quotes, the habits and workflows of famous artists and/or thinkers, books he recommends, everything.

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See more of Andrew’s work: http://andrewcraftillustration.com/

 

The MoCCA Festival

The MoCCA (Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) was held last week at the armory in NY.   As you can see from the photos there was an abundance of MFA Illustration alumni and current students showing their work as well as visiting the festival. 

Studio Makeover

Every year MFAI students walk into their new, clean and empty studios. Over the next 9 months they decorate and transform them into colorful and inspiring workspaces.

Before:

After:

Amanda Moeckel   

Francisco Galárraga

Steve Cup

Claudia Martucci  

Alina Gorban           

Alexa Cassaro

Andrew Craft

Sarah Amelia Dvojack

Ada Price

Chris Bonnell

Gregory Hedderman

Michael Lauritano

Daniel Zender

The Quest

Here is the second in a series of trailers we have made announcing the program’s 30th anniversary.  

Enjoy!

https://vimeo.com/90538155

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT ON: JORDAN LYSENKO

Second-year Jordan Lysenko talks about his work.

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1. Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got here?

 As a kid I would draw planes and rocket ships to keep my self entertained during church services. This is the earliest I recall drawing. The trick is I never stopped so when college came around I decided to attempt a career. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a BFA in Illustration I decided I needed more time and instruction on  how to make a living by making images. I lived 45 minutes outside of NYC for the majority of my life and have always loved the city, so I packed up my car, and moved back east.

2. Please talk about your past book project for Marshall and Carl’s class.

Originally, I had wanted to create a book that explored the origin of zombies, but I didn’t have clear direction. Instead I decided to base my book on a personal experience I had a couple years back when I came home one day with a puppy. I chose to illustrate a weekend during my undergrad in which I surprised myself (and everyone around me) by buying a puppy for 3 days before I ended up returning her. Years later there were still unresolved questions and feelings that remained from the experience. I used this as an opportunity to process and resolve those unaddressed questions and emotions.

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3. We have seen your work changing drastically this past year, what led to the decision to become a concept artist?

 Outwardly, the content of my work appears to have changed a lot, but on the inside, this is the kind of work I’ve been trying to make for years now. I wasn’t aware that there was an industry where people made money drawing and painting the stuff I loved - robots, sci-fi, horror, and fantasy-related content. I knew that was sprinkled here and there in contemporary illustration, but I wasn’t aware that there was a whole industry that catered to the content I consumed: video games and movies.

I wish during my undergrad one of my professors had pulled me aside and said that this was the kind art I was trying to create. I remember this one instance during my undergrad where I wanted to create a scene of a welder fighting a mechanical bear. I never finished that project, but looking back, I realize that was one of many instances where I tried to approach my work as a concept artist rather than an illustrator. I was more interested in designing this machine and the gear this man was wielding, rather responding to a statement about as important social issue. 

It wasn’t until this past summer that I realized this industry existed. I decided to take the time to explore the subject matter I wanted to draw, rather than limiting myself to what I viewed as successful commercial illustration. I realized that this was the career path I needed to pursue.

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4. What’s your process now? How do you make your images?

Currently, my work has two aspects to it: theres a side that’s self-motivated and self-driven with content in which I draw and paint the things and ideas that I find interesting, (usually robots) and the other half is comprised of making art based on specific prompts that I would likely encounter working as an artist in the entertainment industry pipeline. My process begins in my sketchbook where I feel most comfortable exploring ideas, interesting shapes and just playing around. Next, I scan my sketches and begin blocking in a basic black and white composition of my painting. Once I have interesting shapes and silhouettes, I begin to introduce color, texture and lighting with my set of photoshop brushes. Sometimes I keep my sketch line-work shown apparent in the painting and sometimes not. Right now I’m still working to figure out how best to meld my sketches and paintings into the same world. I think there needs to be a balance between the two and I’ve yet to find a solution in which I feel my paintings resemble the sketches they are derived from.

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5. What is your thesis project? What have been the biggest challenges so far?

 My thesis project is a series of images that show unique environments that are seen by a theoretical world traveler. This traveler is viewing places that exist in the past, present, future, fantastic and sci-fi. The goal of my thesis is to create a body of work that will land me a job designing environments for a video game company. I wanted to keep the parameters of my subject matter fairly loose so that I could design a wide variety of environments. The biggest challenge has been creating a style of work that reflects my unique hand while remaining relevant within an industry that often favors photorealistic work. It’s been challenging to discover how to blend the two.

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6. After all the changes you’ve been through with your work, where do you see yourself in the future? What kind of job do you want to pursue?

 I want to work for a successful video game company, specifically a company in which I can surround myself with other artists that have similar aesthetic qualities and appreciations. At some point I’d like to be a lead concept artist and develop, create and supervise the look of major games. Any job that lets me draw robots all day would be pretty awesome too.

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7. What does this program mean to you?

 This program was instrumental in helping me rediscover my love for drawing and figuring out the content I wanted to draw. This program gave me the time to do so and surrounded me with people that helped point me in the right direction. The program helped me debunk a lot of preconceived notions of what I thought illustration and what it took to become a successful artists. 

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8. Recommend a movie, a book, a song, a picture or an artist that you find inspiring.

 Ian McQue is my idol. I love his sketches, I love his paintings. I love that he’s a concept artist that is easily identifiable because of his style. If only I could spend a day in his imagined worlds… 

9. Recommend an online or physical resource that you consider informative or instructive for artists.

 Flickr. The quality of photos is so much better than google image. It’s second best to the great outdoors of course, but there are just some things that aren’t attainable by subway. I find that some of the most alien stuff exists on this planet so go outside.

See more of Jordan’s work: http://www.jordanlysenko.com/

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT ON: ARAM KIM

Second-year Aram Kim talks about her work.

1. How did you get here? What were you doing before?

 In Korea, most kids who want to major in art in college prepare (very seriously) when they are in high school, or if earlier, from when in junior high. I didn’t and I never thought I could be an artist until I went to a small liberal arts college in St.Louis as an English Literature major exchange student. I took a Studio Art 101 class just for fun, where I drew artificial objects and natural objects with a pen. Really basic, but surprisingly fun. While I was there, I took 5 more art classes, ending up taking much more art classes than English literature classes which I was supposed to take. That year changed my life and I decided to pursue to be an artist. I transferred to SVA undergraduate program with illustration major, learned a lot and graduated in 2009. I started working at the Morgan Library & Museum and did other part time jobs including some freelance illustration gigs while I tried to maintain maximum amount of time for working on personal pieces.

2. What’s the story behind your last book project for Marshall and Carl’s class? Why did you decide to make it about food?

I love food and drawing food. I love people who feed me and I love people who eat with me. Food is a big part of my memories when I think of people or certain times in the past. I had several different topics I wanted to work on for the book project, but when Marshall and Carl said we should work on what we really love, I knew I had to work on food related to my memories. So there came the book HAVE YOU EATEN?: ILLUSTRATED BOOK ABOUT FOOD AND MEMORIES. If I had chosen other topics, I don’t think I could have enjoyed as much as I did with this one. I still have lots of future projects related to food that I want to start working on (as soon as I finish my thesis project) including food in Queens. 

3. Your work has been very consistent since the beginning of the program. What are your feelings about this? Has it always been this way? How does experimentation enter into your process?

 I’m glad to hear my work has been consistent. I want my art to be uniquely distinguished so that people would recognize as mine. I think my work has changed quite much but could be seen consistent because I’ve been working mainly with the same medium, color pencils, since I entered the program. I love using watercolors and gouache, but I am not confident that I could control the medium perfectly as I want. I also love printmaking and have done lots of etchings, woodcuts, and a little silkscreen. Though I enjoy it tremendously and kept taking classes, there are some serious restrictions: limited access to the facility. It made me realize I would like to use something I could use any time any place. In addition, I want to use a medium I feel completely comfortable with, so that I wouldn’t be concerned too much about controlling the medium itself. So it is color pencils. I could draw and paint at the same time by using color pencils and I could certainly carry them around wherever I go. In addition to color pencils, I integrate lots of collage and paper cut  to give diversity and fun. Recently, I’ve started using digital coloring and practicing to color digitally but not to loose the feel of hand drawing. In terms of experimentations on subject matters or compositions, I surely have (overwhelmingly) a lot to learn and a lot to try. 

4. There’s such strong element of emotion in your work, especially in the content of the stories you write. Where do you get inspiration from and what themes excite you and make you want to create images.

 My source of inspiration is first and foremost memories. Ever since I started making pictures as an adult, I was always thirsty to express my stories through pictures. I am sometimes concerned that I am being a little too nostalgic, but if I stick to the principle of drawing what you love, memories are definitely what I love to draw. It ranges from food I used to eat as a kid to a neighborhood scene I remember from my childhood and to different kinds of coffee I drank in different places I lived. I had a small silkscreen book I made in 2008, with a title I EAT MEMORIES. It was a very simple accordion book on memories from my childhood to the moment I came to New York in 2006. I think that book is the essence of what I love to express through pictures. I tend to keep a distance from the present in terms of taking it as my subject matter because I don’t exactly know how I feel about it. But when time passes by, it becomes a wonderful subject matter. Yet, I don’t want my pictures to be too personal. Art that is too personal, whether it’s a writing or a picture, shuts out people and becomes a mere personal diary entry. My stories and pictures are personal but I think subject matters I choose are rather universal. While I talk about my personal stories through pictures, I want my pictures to be able to help audiences bring out their own stories. In the near future, I would like to work on some historical subjects. Yet, it would still contain a feel of personal stories.

5. Please talk about the three children’s books you are doing for your thesis project.

I have decided to work on three different story dummy books with 2-3 finished pieces for each based on my adviser Pat Cummings’s advice. It also reflects the feedback I received from publishers when I showed my completely finished children’s book as my undergraduate thesis that complete books had no room to collaborate. Three stories I’m working on right now are actually based on my experiences and memories to some extent.

CAT DREAMS is a wordless book about a stray cat having a rough time on one cold winter day. When she finally gets on a bus, she finds warmth and kindness of people. I was inspired by a photo I saw online couple of winters back. A stray cat stepped on the bus on a very cold winter day and the driver let her in. The cat took a seat where she looked outside of the window and then fell asleep. Passengers didn’t frown on the stray cat taking up a seat, they were rather pleased. When I saw the photo and read a story, I thought it was a very heart-warming and touching story even though nothing really dramatic had happened.

CHIKI IN THE CITY is about a girl who happened to take a little chick into the family. The chicken turns out to be a rooster when he grows up and he causes a stir in the neighborhood. The story was inspired by my own childhood experience of getting a chicken and raising it in a high rise apartment building. I wanted to show affections and responsibilities the little girl develops while she takes care of her first pet.

NARI’S SUNDAY WALK WITH DADDY is also based on my childhood memory of taking a long walk with my dad every Sunday. Every stop a little girl makes in the story is from my own favorite memories of taking a walk, going to a library, dropping by a bakery on the way to grandma’s, etc. In fact this is my favorite story since it is very similar to my own experience of “having a good time.”

6. Tell me about your job at the Morgan Library. I know this job gives you the opportunity to regularly attend to art exhibitions - how has this affected you and your work?

The Morgan Library & Museum was one of my favorite places when I came to New York and I was lucky to have the opportunity to work there when I graduated from the undergrad program. It really is wonderful to be right there when there are some good exhibitions going on. Yet, to be honest, I sometimes very lazily miss the show while I just go in and out for work in the office hidden behind the galleries. However, when there are good shows that excite me going on, I do get excited and thrilled about going to work and step out for a while to go see the show. Right now is in fact the perfect time for me. Little Prince show in the first floor, Woodcut show in the second, and Spanish Drawings in a small gallery. It is a good time to be there. 

7. What did coming to this program mean to you?

I entered this program with a very specific goal: getting my books published. After graduating from the undergrad program, I tried to keep up with my art work, but it wasn’t easy to stay motivated especially after so many rejections while I was going around the children’s book publishers. After three years, entering this program was my ultimate path. There are lots of extremely talented alumni who graduated from this program and work very actively and it gave me a motivation to apply. Looking at a bookshelf upon entering a studio full of alumni’s published children’s books is very encouraging. I came for a very specific goal, but being in the program for 2 years, I got so much more than what I came for. Surrounded by wonderful classmates and teachers and exposed to lots of opportunities, now I can’t imagine what would have been like if I hadn’t come.

8. Recommend a movie, a book, a song, a picture or an artist that you find inspiring.

I have a very random taste in those so I can’t really think of what to recommend. As far as a book goes, I often give Maurice Sendak’s HIGGLETY PIGGLETY POP OR THERE MUST BE MORE TO LIFE as a present. It is an adventure story told by Jennie, a dog who had everything. Sendak’s pen drawings are delicate and beautiful yet humorous and very whimsical. The story is witty and funny but at the same time it does make you think. Whenever I buy a copy, I give it to someone else, so I don’t own one.

 For people who would like to work on children’s books, CHILDREN’S PICTUREBOOKS: THE ART OF VISUAL STORYTELLING by Martin Salisbury is very helpful. The book shows lots of wonderful examples of picture books in different topics, in different countries throughout the history. Very fun and informative at the same time.

 9. Recommend an online or physical resource that you consider informative or instructive for artists.

For children’s book artists, SCBWI website and their annual conferences are extremely helpful. Though you think you already know a lot, when you go to the conference, you get overwhelmed by hands on information and advice from working professionals. Attending their winter conference this February in New York was very eye opening for me and I highly recommend attending if you are interested in children’s book industry.

 See more of Aram’s work: http://aramkim.com/ and http://aramkimblog.tumblr.com/

 

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT ON: ADA PRICE

Second-year Ada Price talks about her work.

1. Can you talk a bit about your background and how you got here?

I went to SVA for undergraduate for cartooning. I did various jobs after graduating such as writing about comics for the magazine Publishers Weekly, working at a non-profit with children, and then I taught Comics 1 at the Memphis College of Art and Design for Joel Priddy, who attended this program. So, I decided I wanted to go back to school to have some time outside the real world to build up my comics.

2. Can you talk about your book project for Marshall and Carl’s class?

It is a 13 page comic, Other Me, which I made a 3 color silkscreen book of. When I first started the comic, it was meant to be a reinterpretation of the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea in which a man makes his own girlfriend and then she develops her own independence. But it took several turns along the way, and in the end, it was a story about stagnation and isolation within a relationship that is consuming itself.

Also, I had been experimenting with silkscreening and I had always wanted to silkscreen a comic, so it was a chance to fulfill this goal. 

3. What kind of stories interests you? What type of themes do you find exciting for making comics?

I find the themes which have always driven literature interesting: people’s relationships, people’s perspective of themselves  and others, isolation, why we are here, why is life full of suffering, and through all this suffering how do people survive and find some bit of joy.


I am also interested in the formal properties of comics: the relationship between text and image, pacing in panels, page layouts that evoke emotions and action, and shifts in style. Previously, I experimented with telling different stories in the text and images that are meant to intersect in interesting ways. These were rather linear stories, driven by a straightforward text and normal plot in the images. Now, however, I am interested in how far the distance can go, not only between the words and the images, but also between the specificity of images and text, working with suggestion rather than linear storytelling, more like a poem. There is a great part in Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics where he talks about the difference between books, movies, and comics: books require a great deal of mental participation from the reader, movies, in general, require a great deal less participation from the viewer, and comics are somewhere in between these two. So, I am interested in creating comics that require more active participation from the reader: ideas are presented in the images and text, but the comic is not complete without the integration of the readers interpretation based on their life and experiences. Therefore, I am interested in stories not as a concrete presentation of story, but as a subjective, relative experience based on individual readers. I want there to be a gap of ambiguity in my comics that allows for this. 

4. Besides using your knowledge about storytelling to help your classmates who are experimenting with comics, what is it like to be the only comic artist in the year? What have you learnt from your classmates?

It has been challenging and a bit of an eye opener. In my undergraduate, I was surrounded only with cartoonists. I had very little interaction with the illustration side of the department. Cartoonists, in my experience, were more interested in storytelling and experiments in visual narrative and style. Now, only being around illustrators, it has been surprising to me how focused they are on style and aesthetics. For me, style is only important as a storytelling device and should be fluid to fit different stories and contexts, not a business card for myself personally.

However, from being around people who need their images to say everything, rather than relying on a balance between text and multiple images, I have started thinking about adding meanings and “conceptual” ideas to my images and not only my text. I think this has driven me in a more surreal direction, whereas before I did stories that were so grounded in reality they were often mistaken for non-fiction. 

5. You seem to be a prolific reader. Which books, comics and graphic novels have influenced your work the most and why?

The book that has probably been the biggest influence on me is the Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. It inspired me as a combination of a story, in a traditional sense; a philosophical novel; and a formal examination of the novel. Also, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Elliot is a big influence to me. It captures a feeling, both historical and personal, of change, upheaval, and anxiety that flows out in beautiful language and images. It develops an interior voice and relies on suggestion and ambiguity of images. As well, I have been influenced by Japanese novelists such as Natsume Soseki, Kobo Abe, and Haruki Murakami. There is a wonderful sense of mystery and ambiguity in their works, and less reliance on classic western ideas of plot, narrative, and chronology, which are aspects I am experimenting with in my thesis project. Particularly, I was influenced by Murakami’s short stories over his novels, his weirdness works best in the short format, the reader doesn’t have time to worry about what makes sense and does not. My favorite of his short stories is “The Second Bakery Attack.”

Comics wise, David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp is an influence for me. As well as an engaging story, it is a formal exploration of what comics can do from different styles and colors to different fonts. Also, I am influenced by Japanese comics, particularly Osamu Tezuka and Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Manga generally has more dynamic and engaging page layouts than western comics, which I think is reflected in my work. I also enjoy japanese girls comics, or shojo, by artists such as Moto Hagio and Riyoko Ikeda. I think these shojo comics manage to express intense emotions elegantly and simply through line work, page layouts, and decorative aspects (like flowers and sparkles). 

 6. You once mentioned in class that your character design has been evolving to a place where you feel more natural about it. Can you tell us about this? In what other way do you feel that your work has been changing?

Simplification of features is very important to cartoonists. Perhaps more than overall style of mark-making or color or drawing, the way the cartoonist finds to turn the face into calligraphy is very important for identifying yourself and the kind of stories you tell. Think of a Charlie Brown stylized  character in a superhero comic, it just doesn’t fit, unless you are going for some kind of meta statement. So, I am just in search of a calligraphy of the face I am comfortable with for my work, that is simple, expressive, and denotes clear, engaging character. 

7. Talk about your thesis project, what it is about and what new challenges are coming along with it.

My thesis revolves around two characters who have experienced loss and failure. For one character, this is a failed romance and for the other character, it is a falling out with his best friend. There is a continual reference to an island in a river between two halves of a city, which serves as a connecting point between the two characters’ desires and memories. The story is told nonlinearly and non-chronologically; it relies on emotional suggestion in both the text and images to relay the plight of the characters’ to the reader.

In general, I feel my drawing has developed a great deal in my thesis. I have loosened up to an extent and embraced my natural process of drawing more. 

8. What does this program mean to you?

A space outside the world to develop my work and to meet others who are driven and motivated to work as artists, illustrators, and cartoonists.

9. Can you recommend a movie, a book, a song, a work of art or an artist that you find inspiring?

I recommend Beethoven’s 7th symphony. The last movement feels like the continuing, turning wheels of time and experience. I appreciate classical music, since, to me, it feels like condensed emotion. In classical pieces, meaning and understanding isn’t as forced on the listener as with song lyrics, and I feel free to make my own interpretation and experience with classical music. While Beethoven, is probably my favorite, I am also interested in Rachmaninoff, Brahms (his piano quintet in F minor in particular), Shostakovich, and Ravel.

10. Recommend an online or physical resource that you consider informative or instructive for artists.

I am a big believer in hobbies outside of art. A long, long time ago, art was a hobby for me, now it is work. I need hobbies as a time for my brain to shift focus from the intense tedium of drawing and writing comics; it allows me to relax, and I find when I am not thinking about work, better ideas come to me. I cook alot. Cooking is both an enjoyable and practical hobby. I make my own stock, I can occasionally, and I have a large collection of cookbooks. For Christmas I got the cookbook, Japanese Soul Cooking by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat, so I have been making new dishes from it every week, which has a delicious distraction from thesis.

Another hobby of mine is my plants. I currently have 29 houseplants in one room, not including a couple pots that have multiple varieties in them. When I lived in Memphis I had a vegetable garden, which is the thing I probably miss the most in New York. With spring weather, I start getting the desire to stick my hands in cool dirt and make things grow. So instead of vegetables, lately I have been making cactus gardens.

 See more of Ada’s work: http://www.adaprice.com/







MFA ILLUSTRATION AS VISUAL ESSAY - 30TH ANNIVERSARY

Here is the first in series of trailers we’ve made announcing our 30th anniversary celebration.

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT ON: GYOUNGWON KATIE HWANG

Second-year Katie Hwang talks about her work.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you got here?

I have BFA in textile design and MFA in fashion design. After I graduated, I worked in the fashion industry for seven years. It was second best decision I’ve made but didn’t enjoy the work and life in the industry and couldn’t get good incentives to make money, considering the amount of time I spent. By this time I was seriously reconsidering my career. I met a friend, Swan Park, who graduated from Illustration program at School of Visual Arts. She has been working as a professional illustrator across the continents. I was encouraged to go for the program to work with people of different races and ideas. I believe coming to SVA was the best decision I’ve made in my life.

2. Talk about the place fashion has in your life and the influence it has over your work as an illustrator

My parents ran a fashion industry and my dad is a very sophisticated gentleman who enjoys wearing garments.  I thought my dad was cooler than anybody else and I was proud of him for the reason. I wanted to resemble him. I think I inherited his sense of fashion naturally. For me fashion is something I have been playing with and I dreamt of becoming a fashion designer since I was a child. It was natural for me to practice drawings and paintings ever since I was able to speak my mother language. My experience as a fashion designer in Korea has prepared me to find my interest in being an illustrator. I also can tell how the environment in New York City has a huge influence on my vision and passion for art + fashion. I appreciate my experiences in two different environments as a woman and as an artist. They have nurtured my talents. My environment feeds my creativity. 

3. Can you talk about your internship at the MET? What is it about and what you expect to achieve with it.

I am interning in a product design team of Merchandising department at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts. The Merchandising department handles about a quarter of all revenue in MET. The product design team I am involved with is making products sold at MET Store. I am working on the magnetic paper dolls containing fashion icons in each era in 20th century.  I have done 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. These are for the special exhibition of American designer ‘Charles James,’ which will be held this May. My illustrations associated with the products will be shown in May 2014. Also, my work will be included in a  Fashion History book that will be released next Fall.

I am acquiring knowledge about how my illustration applies to real products in the industry and how to network with coworkers.

4. Please talk about your last book project.

My latest book project is about a magical ‘hat shop’. The story starts when a witch, old lady who opens a hat shop in a sad village called Greywich Village that doesn’t have colors apart from black and white. It is my first children’s book. I used pencil drawing and printmaking mixed with Photoshop. I was working on the book project in Carl and Marshall’s class through the whole spring semester but I thought that is not enough so I stared over. I did the drawing and painting all over again during the summer. It was a really fun and challenging project. 

5. What is your thesis project? Why did you chose it and what are your thoughts on how it’s evolving?

I am depicting editorial illustrations showing women’s roles in the current society for my thesis project. Some people do not think we are still in male-centric society. But I think it still is. Unlike the past era, women can vote and have the equal right to get educated and jobs they want, but at the center of the society, men run most things. I want to show the women’s uneasiness to live in this era.

6.  One of the great things about this program is that you can actually work with people you admire. Marcos Chin is your thesis adviser and I know you are a huge fan of his work. How is it been for you to work with him?

As you know, I do admire Marcos. He is the most amazing, fun and smart person I’ve ever seen. I do love him. Illustrations play a vital role in various fields today especially in print and web. An illustration can be the best complement for an editorial article, a book or magazine cover, a website header and for different advertising campaigns. We’ve seen a lot of illustrators and we can say that illustration is one of the most respected design fields in terms of creativity. Images are created from scratch – a dash of imagination turned into a major artwork that can be used in various ways. Marcos Chin is an awesome artist in the field of editorial and commercial illustration. I am inspired with his work. He is a bit perfectionist though. He makes me get frustrated and pushes me to work harder if he doesn’t enjoy my work.

Besides, he works day and night. Whenever I see his posts on Facebook, he is in-between many projects. It challenges me. Sometimes, I feel very embarrassed, seeing how much he does work as a distinguished illustrator. Needless to say, working with him is a golden chance for me to be an illustrator. I believe I can grow a lot by working with him. I am very lucky to have met him.

7. What did coming to this program mean to you?

I came here seeking stimulation and an infusion of ideas, looking to enhance my illustration skills, and for an advanced degree for a career in education. This program is truly magic for me.

As a student in the program, I work closely with leading illustrators in the only residency MFA program in the country dedicated exclusively to illustration, all the while maintaining my current professional and personal commitments. While executing  assignments, I learn about assignments, polish the skills in marketing and promotion, and have the opportunity to sharpen entrepreneurial skills. I benefit immeasurably by studying alongside other highly motivated and talented artists, who share my commitment to the field of illustration. All the teachers are the very best educators that I have met in my many years of illustration education. I have mentors and friends from all over that I can reach out to, compare thoughts with, ask advice of, and share my triumphs with. I feel like I grew up here. Before I came here, I couldn’t imagine what I would do as an illustrator. I now know how to deal with work as an illustrator. I believe the program makes me stand out the world.

8. Recommend a movie, a book, a song, a picture or an artist that you find inspiring.

I love historical movies; especially the one with old fashioned garments. I like Marie Antoinette starring Kirsten Dunst directed by Sophia Coppola. The colors and decorations in the movie are inspiring. I also like movies directed by Woody Allen. I love his recent movie Midnight in Paris. In that movie, I especially like story, 1920s’ atmospheres and clothing.

9. Recommend an online or physical resource that you consider informative or instructive for artists.

I have been visiting a Dutch agency website, www.unit.nl. They are an agency representing various artists in photography, illustration, animation, (art) direction and film. Besides protecting their artists’ creative interest they also take care of production and always assure a good communication between creative and client. 

 See more of Katie’s work: http://www.katiehwang.com/

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