Ralph Lauren approached the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program last fall requesting a list of our emerging alumni. The project was to create art for the entire façade of their new Denim & Supply store on 12th Street and University Place in New York City. Aside from the façade the artist would install their work in the store as well as the windows. They would design two t-shirts specifically for the event. The profit would go to the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay scholarship fund. We sent Ralph Lauren over 30 names and websites of our alumni. They chose Jonathan Bartlett. We hired Nada Ray to create a video about the event. Here are stills from the film shoot as well as a link to the film itself.
All photograph courtesy of Nada Ray.
Our writing instructor, Michele Zackheim published her most recently novel in January. It continues to receive high praise. Michele was recently on Andrea Mitchell Reports to discuss her book.
A link to the interview can be found here:
If you are in the New York area don’t miss Vanessa Redgrave reading excerpts from the book.
Graduation Day is always full of mixed emotions - great joy and celebration for our graduating students as well as melancholy feelings as they finish the program.
The reception for the Thesis Show for the Class of 2014 was held on May 13th. Great work celebrated on a beautiful New York City evening.
It’s been over a month since we installed the thesis show for the Class of 2014. And sadly that show has already come down. Here’s at look back at our installation day.
Second-year James Kerigan talks about his work.
1. How did you get here? Where were you before?
Well I do know that I have spent as long as I could drawing. Doodling, not knowing that it could take me anywhere, but it wasn’t until high school that my teacher pushed me to do the Art AP program. Now that’s not a humble brag or anything, but it was so enjoyable and it solidified my “career path” from then onwards. I then received my BFA at St. John’s University, and what a hidden gem that art program was! I spent half a year living throughout Europe, got my first taste of gallery work as well as professional freelance jobs. It gave me everything, and seeing as how 3 of my teachers their received their masters in this very program, well that explains itself. Then from there grad school was next, and SVA was the only logical choice.
2. Please talk about your “No Dessert” book. Why did you decide to make a children’s book for Marshall and Carl’s class?
Well I have never made a children’s book before, and what way to know if one would want to get into that industry then to jump in feet first and do it. In essence I taught myself how to make a children’s book by simply making a children’s book. It was not very enjoyable to be honest. The story was somewhat autobiographical with a boy on an adventure to steal cookies from the kitchen, with the help of his toys along the way. The problem is that I always fight myself from making nice single images, or paneled comic books, and I thought a kid’s book would be a happy middle ground, but it just didn’t click. I don’t regret one second of it, I just now know that children’s books aren’t for me, at least right now.
3. Tell us about your obsession with superheroes, how it happened, and how it affects the work you do.
Believe it or not, I got into the superhero game rather late. Yes I watched all of the batman and justice league cartoons as a kid, but it wasn’t until I went to London as a kid when I picked up my first Spider-Man comic book. I was hooked! In the simplest definition it is an escape. I just love the idea that someone who is granted godly powers, or someone’s undying dedication to justice can cause such societal impact. The idea of devoting ones life to one single cause is so profound. For me it is not a hobby anymore, I have consciously decided to devote a large part of my life to superheroes, or should I say comic books in general. Its effect on me is just as profound. Reading comic books for years now has lead me to do comic books and comic book art more so than any other type. The genre itself is so vast, and rewarding in both a visual and storytelling avenue that it’s an endless journey. Lets face it though, you cant but not love Batman.
4. What is your thesis project? Where did the idea come from and how has it been for you to write and illustrate a comic book.
My thesis project, as you can guess, is a comic book. Specifically the first issue in a larger story arc. It is titled “Doppelganger”, and it deals with the human psyche. In history a doppelganger is an “evil” double of someone, a bad version of themselves if you will. In my world a doppelganger is ones own anger. What would happen if our own emotions (specifically anger) could evolve inside us, and even manifest into reality? It deals with the occult, and there’s witchcraft, and a load of monsters (doppelgangers) all centered around a main hero of course.
The idea is straight from the old noggin, and for this project, I went way out of my comfort zone. Illustrating this book has been an eye opener. My advisor for this is Nathan Fox, and he has been working with me throughout the year, and we handled this project as if it was a full on professional job. From script, to storyboarding, to pencils, inking, grey-toning, editing, re-editing, etc. etc. Working on this project, doing every facet of the book myself has been tough but very rewarding. I not only have to be a writer, but an editor, designer, artist, letterer, and producer, all at the same time, and although it sounds daunting, It has been an absolute pleasure.
5. What is it about drawing monsters that you love so much? What other themes interest you and inspire you to create images?
What’s not to love about Monsters. Just like comic books, it is an endless genre to draw and inspire from. Everything we, as artists, create is informed by real world things, and my love of drawing monsters stems from taking my two favorite themes to draw from, and extrapolating that into something totally new. I love Anatomy, and animals the most. Knowing the intricate ins and outs of a human body, or the soft gestural qualities of a torso or face is an obsession of mine. Trying to draw the “perfect figure” is such a driving force for me. With animals, it is the mind-blowingly vast expanse of evolution that covers this world. The animal kingdom is so large, and there are just subsets amongst subsets of creatures and organisms that it is one of the biggest visual libraries around. You can spend every day of your life learning and drawing something new, and still wouldn’t touch half of what]s out there before the end of your life.
Now to bring this back full circle to monsters, the ability to take from a visual library, that is grounded in reality (anatomy, animals, etc.) and create something so other-worldly is fascinating. Like creating something from nothing almost. A monster can be bi-pedal like a human, and have the skin of an alligator, but the wings of a falcon and the tusks of a wooly mammoth, but if done right you can create something that has never been seen before. You can push it to as gnarly as you want, or hold back and keep it adorable. Its endless, purely endless.
6. After almost two years in the program, how do you feel about your work before and after SVA? How has it evolved?
Oh boy, I have evolved ten-fold. When I first came to SVA I was so terrified and it was so daunting I was fighting myself the first year. Being the youngest of our year, and even one of the youngest of the entire program itself, I fell into this pit of thinking illustration was just editorial work, and I need to do work that everyone else would like. I even stopped myself from doing comics the first semester. It was a tough thing, but by the end of the first semester I realized how ridiculous that was and moved onwards . SVA has reshaped my idea of illustration (in a good way) and has changed my work ethic for the better. This program is filled with a great faculty, and titans of our field, but in the end it falls on you. You can make this a great experience, and a really rewarding one, or you can slide-by and make it by the skin of your teeth. This program has not only made me more productive and technically proficient, but it has made me more confident about heading out into the world of illustration. There are endless outlets, many of which I didn’t know existed, and a lot more prepared to venture into those fields than I ever was prior to this program.
7. What does this program mean to you? What’s on your horizon after this program?
For me, this program helped me not only get better at what I was doing, but helped me to find out what I want to be doing. Yes I spent a lot of time doing things I now know I don’t want to do at all, but I wouldn’t have known without first doing them. This program was an eye opener of the real world for me to an extent as well. Being the youngest, and I will admit still having a bit of naiveté of not only our industry but the job world itself, a lot of things have been made clear to me and I am very confident to move onwards from here, more so then I ever was prior to this program. I have a love of being in school and just being a part of the education system, I am going to miss being in this program, and the people I have grown close with over these past years, but its time to move on. For what’s on my horizon I have some paths open in both the teaching world and the storyboarding world. I also now have a product that I can shop around for publishing, or to use as a jumping off point to get work in the comic book industry.
8. Recommend a movie, a book, a song, a picture or an artist that you find inspiring.
For a movie, Kung-Fu panda, in a storytelling, artistic and animation stand-point, it is a gem!
For a book, a blank sketchbook, nothings better to help inspire you
For a song, “The Crowing” by Coheed and Cambria. Starts out relaxing and mellow, ends with a bang!
Check him out for yourself!
9. Recommend an online or physical resource that you consider informative or instructive for artists.
Life. Just grab a sketchbook, go outside and draw from life. There is something about blank paper, open air and your own thoughts that help to push creativity. You know yourself the best, and looking at something in the flesh, whether it’s an old forest tree, a nude model, or an animal at the zoo, studying and seeing it in person is way more informative than looking at an online photo. Relying on the internet for resources is not bad, but it can lead you astray, where as experiencing something in reality is something in and of itself
See more of James’ work: http://www.jameskerigan.com/
Second-year Moonsub Shin talks about his work.
1. Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got here?
Hello, my name is Moonsub Shin and I’m from South Korea. Seven years ago, I came to NYC to study English and eventually found what I really wanted to do, illustration. I entered SVA BFA illustration in 2009. Actually I tried to go to MFA program first, but I realized that I was not ready to study there yet. When I finished my sophomore year, I prepare a portfolio for the MFA program and got accepted in 2012.
2. You’ve been at SVA for almost five years now and you’ve had the benefit of learning from several teachers. Which of them would you say have influenced you the most and how?
I’ve met so many great teachers. Actually, everyone gave me lots inspiration and helped me improve.
It is really hard to choose only one.
For technical improvement, Tomas Woodruff’s Drawing class is the best drawing class according to me. His class helped me enhance my drawing.
Bruce Waldman’s Etching class helped to mold me and make me more professional. I took his etching class every semester.
Yoko Shimizu’s Principles of Illustration class showed me what I needed to survive as an illustrator. Her class gave me lots motivation and pushed me to work harder and harder because I could see that being a successful illustrator was not easy!
3. Can you talk a bit about your book project for Marshall and Carl´s class?
The title of my book is “Brothers”
I had a brother and he hugely inspired me. I wanted to share how he affected my life with introducing other famous brothers in the history.
I believe that brothers go through the same problems when they try to become what they want to be. In these times, they argue and fight but understand each other and encourage each other to move forward. Then they find a solution.
Having a brother who is the closest friend, a mentor and a family member, may be one of the greatest blessings from God.
This book is dedicated to my older brother, Hunsub Shin, who is in heaven now.
4. Please talk about your thesis.
My thesis, ‘On a Saturday’, talks about our daily lives. My comic is about an ordinary man and an ordinary woman. Through the story, you can see how people can invisibly interact with each other and how it can spark off some amazing and unpredictable results. This is something we do everyday. Sometimes, you do something that puts you in a bad mood, but that is not the end of the story. These happenings can open up new interactions and possibilities.
This is what I want to say through my project.
5. You are proficient at making art in multiple techniques. How come you decided to make a comic using ink and digital coloring for your thesis project?
Well… As you said, I know multiple techniques. It sounds really good but I want to show my strongest feature with my thesis. When I thought about my biggest strength, I believed that my drawing was it. Then I looked for a way to present and settled on the comic format.
6. You are a religious person. Does religion influence the art you make?
My every works has religious messages but it’s not direct. I mean, when I do my work, I pray. I want people who look at my work, to feel happy and hopeful.
7. What has the MFA program been like for you?
It’s been like my Family, my home and my school (yes definitely.)
8. Can you recommend a movie, a book, a song, a picture or an artist that you find inspiring?
I have every art book of pixar studio (the arts of Pixar movie series). It have given me huge inspiration for character, coloring, composition and editorial images.
9. Recommend an online or physical resource that you consider informative or instructive for artists.
I don’t have specific website for my references. I just google and randomly search for art. However, TV commercials are a really good resource I believe. I can find trendy fashion, good faces and movement. It is also really good way to find the story.
See more of Moonsub’s work: http://www.moonsubshin.com/