Drawing On Location teacher, Carol Fabricatore, takes groups of students every year out into the city to draw. Take a look to some of the locations they visited during fall semester.
Big Apple Circus
Class of 2015 took green screen photos in Matthew’s class and then had fun with them. See the great results!
Allena la Spina
Second-year Claudia Martucci talks about her work.
1. You grew up in a very artistic environment. Both your parents are well-known illustrators. How has this been like for you?
I’ve definitely had a “unique” experience being raised by two artists. I can remember being nine years old and brought to the “SENSATION” show in the Brooklyn Museum and seeing Damien Hirst’s severed cow parts in large formaldehyde-filled glass containers. They also obliged me to watch a variety of films; foreign, silent, black and white, independent, cult, etc… Their method of raising was to give me a cultural overload.
On the down side, having parents who were artists and my innate artistic talent lead me to feel certain pressure that I needed to be exactly like them. My other peers in SVA undergrad use to say how rad it was that my parents supported the life of a “starving artist” when actually the stereotype was reversed. When I wanted to be more involved with sports I can remember my dad’s painstaking expression. It was always “Why go out with your friends on the weekend? Why go to the prom? Stay home and draw!” I had to learn on my own time that being an artist was what I wanted. Nowadays I like to tease my parents that they should be grateful I’ve inherited their genes, otherwise if I pursued life as an athlete they wouldn’t have known what to do.
2. You are an oil painter who doesn’t necessarily identify with being an ‘illustrator’. How did you make the decision to pursue your undergraduate as well as graduate education as an illustration major? What have you learnt from your classmates?
I decided to pursue illustration because that is what I grew up with. Also I found the assignments given to illustrators more fun and light than what was expected in the fine arts department. I’d rather portray a narrative than a sentiment. Form was another reason. There is less structure with fine art, and that is not the kind of art I want to make. I think the only real difference between fine art and illustration is the context you place it in. None of our art looks the same so there is no reason to say “that is fine art “ and “that is illustration.” I’m amazed at my classmates’ versatile styles and abilities in using multimedia. Sometime I feel less creative because I only paint, all done in the same manner; however, when I attempt different mediums I feel that the results aren’t sincere, like I’m trying be another artist. I know society is obsessed with labels, but I don’t wish to place my paintings under a category (illustration or fine art); I think they can work as both!
3. Can you talk about your book project for Marshall and Carl’s class?
For Marshall and Carl’s class I made a book based off of a stop motion animation that I did in undergrad in which the assignment was to create a love triangle. My characters were a fox, a mole, and a cherry blossom tree. When the cherry tree blooms in spring he gives his blossoms to both animals. The unfolding of the love triangle is simulated in the change of each season. At first I wanted to create more of a traditional children’s book, but in the end I think it’s more suited for young adults. The story was based off my personal experiences, and it is sort of sad, but I think there’s validity in the story that everyone can relate to.
4. What’s your process like for doing painting? Has it been changing?
I don’t make sketches before doing a piece; I know a lot of people find that odd. Usually I start off writing lists for ideas and once I settle on an idea, I begin another list of what I associate with that idea. Once I know the elements I’ll be using in a piece, I typically go to the public library’s picture collection, or take some photographs of my own and composite it digitally. I like working this way because the possibilities feel more limitless using to Photoshop than relaying on my drawing skills. If I need to give a pig wings and make it believable, that’s easy with Photoshop. Honestly, I can’t even draw a decent flower from my head; so trying to plan an elaborate painting in a thumbnail seems like solving a calculus equation.
My technical painting process is definitely evolving, but in reverse. I first learned how to paint from my mother, who paints in a highly rendered, tight manner acquired from her illustration jobs. While that style looks amazing for print, I want my paintings to look amazing hanging on a wall, so now I am learning how to loosen up, and soften my edges.
5. Besides painting you are also interested in doing short animations. Tell us about them, how and why you do them?
I like doing the animations because I feel that there is no pressure in having a finished drawing since they are moving. I also admire a lot of animation work. One of my favorite movie moments is in “Jason and the Argonauts” skeleton fighting scene. I remember that always spooked me a little bit as a child.
See one of Claudia’s animations here
6. What is your thesis project about? Can we get a sneak peak of it?
For my thesis I’m doing conceptual portraits of notable female literary characters whom all die young as a result of the pressures put upon them by society. I’ve always been obsessed with the stories by Edith Wharton and Thomas Hardy. I remember reading Tess of the d’Ubervilles when I was about ten or eleven, and already deeming it my favorite novel. Here is the digital sketch I made before beginning the painting.
7. What does this program mean to you?
When I first started off in SVA undergrad, I was unsure about what kind of artist I wanted to be until I saw the MFA Book Show in the lobby of the main building. In seeing the students write and illustrate their own books I felt a sense of relief in knowing there was actually a program specifically for that.
8. Can you recommend a movie, a book, a song, a picture or an artist that you find inspiring?
I love the movie “Art School Confidential” just because if you go to art school, you’ll definitely get it. I think “Dogville” and “Rosemary’s Baby” are some of the greatest films, not sure what that says about me… I also love the sets and costumes in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette and find that film to relate a lot to my paintings. I often just listen to the soundtrack on repeat while I work.
A really great place for reference is the New York Public Library. The images I find there would never exist on Google. Also they provide references from photos taken as well as paintings, so you get a variety of styles on a particular subject. I always get inspired there while rummaging through their picture files.
See more of Claudia’s work: http://highartbyclaudia.com/
MFAI students can’t stop drawing! Not even during class. Here are some fun class doodles.
Sarah Dvojack and Mike Hirshon by Michael Lauritano
Once again, Aka, one of the industry leaders in theatrical advertising and promotion, sponsored a competition with the program. Students were asked to submit an image reflecting their idea of Broadway.
The winners have been announced!
Aka plans to produce a 2014 calendar with the 12 selected images.
What’s not to love?
Second-year Daniel Zender talks about his work.
1. You have a background as a graphic designer. Why and when did you decide to become an illustrator?
I was already drawing a lot after getting my BFA from Missouri State University in Graphic Design, but I didn’t really see it as a career path. It was something I did for posters, to accompany typography for other projects, but not something I thought I could do as a freelancer or full time. Starting illustration actually came more as a necessity…I was out of school for about a year and still hadn’t landed a job that I really wanted. I had set my standards sort of unrealistically high, and so I got turned down at a lot of jobs I was applying to. During the same period of time I was doing posters with conceptual images, and I realized that was what I really loved…just the image part. So I decided to throw away my entire portfolio and start from scratch. I just started making images. I was having a lot more fun, and I also realized that I didn’t think I could survive in a design agency or studio anyway. I like getting my hands dirty and doing my own thing.
2. Tell us about your book project for Marshall and Carl’s class and what it meant for you in terms of experimentation.
My book was called “Out There” and it was four short stories based on my own personal experiences out in the wilderness or traveling. It was fun to reflect on those stories and rewrite them. Aesthetically it was also a fun experience, and I tried a lot of different methods. I was drawing with charcoal on large pieces of watercolor paper, and making stencil masks to get really hard lines. Underpainting was doing with acrylic. I tried doing some sequential stuff which was fun as well. I am happy with that project, but also glad to be moving on from it. I feel like the technique limited my work, and the story was too introspective and melodramatic. It was really helpful in discovering a process and a way of writing that I feel comfortable with.
3. Please describe your process for us. Don’t forget to mention your sketchbook.
This sort of changes from project to project, but it is always pretty basic. I start by doing thumbnails, which are actually usually quarter page sketches. It is hard for me to work small. I usually do 4-6 sketches, for an image, unless I am extremely drawn to the first one I make, which happens a lot. Then it gets tricky. I use a lot of stencils, paint, pencils, and other materials, and %50 of the time I am putting all of that into the computer and adjusting it. However, I am trying to move away from that while I am at SVA, to make physical finals that can be displayed, hung, and given away or sold. My sketchbook is a great way to work out how I use shapes…I love drawing people, from my head and real life. My sketchbook serves as a way to experiment with how I draw the human form and its relationship with other people and objects. Lately I have been drawing more directly from my loose sketches, to try and preserve the looseness and spontaneity that comes with quick sketches.
4. Your style changes completely with every new project you start. Why do you feel the need to be constantly evolving?
I just get really bored! Having a specific style is useful for getting freelance work…you want art directors to know you arent going to surprise them. But for personal projects growth is key, and I feel like I am growing most when I try to move in a new direction that is exciting for me. Then I can slip in new techniques and approaches slowly with my freelance work.
5. Where do you get your inspiration from? What type of themes do you find exciting and inspiring to create your images?
Oh, I don’t know…as much as possible I guess. Recently I have started this game with myself where I analyze an advertisement or poster or any other sort of visual thing that is on the subway or street. I ask myself what is good about it…I think you should be able to say something positive about everything you see, even the worst, poorly designed, unplanned signage or handbills. It helps you critique your own work and build your visual vocabulary. The other day I saw a sandwich shop with this really crappy sign that had a picture of every sandwich the place offered….like 40 photographs in columns of these really gross sandwiches. I loved the repetition of these really horrible looking greasy sandwiches and thought it could be a really funny painting. So that. But also movies, my friends, looking around. It is really hard to be precise with this question. I really just try to allow myself to be open to anything and usually I can find some sort of inspiration from it, for better or worse. I try to be open to the weird stuff of life, and that usually comes through in my work somehow.
6. Tell us about your thesis project, what it is about and why did you decide to do paintings.
My thesis is colorful paintings based on nightmares. I am hoping to design a magazine to showcase all of them. I wanted to produce hundreds of paintings and make lots of money. We’ll see what happens.
7. I know you want to incorporate your graphic design skills into your thesis project. Why is this important to you?
A lot of reasons. I still like setting typography, and don’t want to get rusty. I want to art direct, and I have been told that graphic design skills are important for that. I also just like design, and doing it for fun is way more enjoyable than doing it for someone else, so the work will come out feeling more personal and exciting. Graphic Design still informs my work as much as illustration…to me the two are very closely connected. So it is a way to keep exploring that relationship and see how I can push it further.
8. What did coming to this program mean to you?
Getting inspired, working harder, and moving forward.
9. Can you recommend a movie, a book, a song, a picture or an artist that you find inspiring?
I really liked the James Turrell show at the Guggenheim and think about Fellini’s 8 1/2 a lot. I think Blair Witch Project is the the best scary movie ever. My favorite movie is Mystery Train. I like the colors in Mulholland Drive. Daniel Clowes writes things that make me laugh, and Three Shadows was the last book to make me cry. I am actually looking for scary inspiration, so if anyone out there wants to send me some spooky movies or anything else, please email me.
10. Recommend an online or physical resource that you consider informative or instructive for artists.
Just go outside and walk around and do some things you wouldn’t normally do and it will be way better than the library or the internet or anything else.
See more of Daniel’s work: www.danielzender.com
We have partnered with Moleskine and the French Embassy for a week long series of events celebrating Proust. More details can be found on the French Embassy link below. We will have 24 MFAI alumni and current students drawing on location all over New York City. All of the events are free and most of them are open to the public.
Second-year Annie Won talks about her work.
1. You’re background is very interesting; I know you used to work as a concept artist for a video game company. Can you tell us about that and how you decided to become an illustrator?
Yes, I worked as a concept artist in a game company in Seoul. The company was a leading company in the field. By working there, I was able to learn a lot about computer art and how to work as a team. I think my life was also great back then since I felt fulfillment as an artist. However, after several years, I realized that I was born to be a storyteller and it would be difficult to tell my story to the world if I continued to work as a unit of a large group. That’s why I decided to quit my job to be a freelance children’s book illustrator.
2. Please tell us about your book project and about the digital collage technique that you used to compose the images.
Bistro The Three Bears is introducing a bizarre bistro, which is located in the Bear Forest. Besides children’s picture books, I am also interested in recipe books. Thus, I thought I could make an amazing story by combining those two genres. Also, inventing unordinary recipes, which are based on fairy tales and myths, was great fun for me.
The digital collage that I used for the Bistro The Three Bears is half digital painting and half photo collage. First I drew and painted the major part digitally and then applied photos and textures for the minor part. I usually adjust color, light and saturation of photos. Therefore it takes a lot if time for me to complete the process.
3. You are the type of artist that is continuously experimenting and searching. Can you tell us what you’ve been experimenting with lately and what new techniques you want to incorporate in your thesis project?
Recently, I am trying to find out the ideal ratio of hand drawing and digital painting. During my first semester’s book project at SVA, I used hand drawing as line work and then applied color on it digitally. But, I obtained dense images and that made me want to use more interesting textures. So, for the next project, the Bistro The Three Bears, I did 100 percent digital work. But I was still not that satisfied with the way emotion was expressed. Now, I am pretty sure that I can find an ideal contact point between hand drawing and digital work. Therefore, I can apply the happy medium to my thesis project.
4. You´re not only a children’s book illustrator but a children’s book writer. Please tell us about the kind of stories you write.
I love to make stories. Most of them are quirky, funny stories with hidden morals for children. Sometimes, they could be also for adults. I usually write something that I am interested in. Thus, I tell stories about cooking, adventures and eccentric people. For instance, I made Bistro The Three Bears an impossible recipe book, The Story of Mr. N an adventure of a man who frees his clones, and Bori’s Knitted Hat a story about a girl who is too shy so she wears this and that on her head to hide her face. But she looked funny so people stared at her more than before.
5. Where do you get your inspiration from? What type of images do you find appealing?
I love various artists: Edward Hopper, Zdzislaw Beksinski , Shaun Tan, Rebecca Dautremer, Joanna Concejo, Eric Pubaret and my advisor, John Nickle. I get inspiration from these artists’ amazing works. Their art works are breathtaking to me because there are a lot of things to learn from them. Some of them teach me composition, and others teach me to view the world from a different angle.
6. What is your thesis project about and what personal goal do you expect to achieve with it?
I am planning to make three children’s picture books for my thesis. Two of them are based on my own stories and the other one is based on the Blue Bird of Happiness, written by Maurice Maeterlinck. I wish them could be published, so my personal goal is to make the thesis project the finest quality among my works. Also, since I want to be a writer and an illustrator, I want to prove my ability at both to the publishers.
7. What does this program mean to you?
The MFA Illustration as Visual Essay is my first experience with illustration. When I determined to be a children’s book illustrator, I didn’t know how to start, so I applied to this program to ask and learn everything about being a children’s book illustrator. It’s great to learn what is crucial for the publishing field and to have more opportunities to apply to various competitions.
8. Can you recommend a movie, a book, a song, a picture or an artist that you find inspiring?
I recommend Zdzislaw Beksinski who was the great surrealistic artist. He expressed various kinds of bizarre, surrealistic scenes on canvas. I often feel like I am reading Franz Kafka’s books when I see Beksinski’s work. Thus, if someone loves Kafka, that person might like Beksinski’s work too.
9. Recommend an online or physical resource that you consider informative or instructive for artists.