It's September 2014 and I'm back in school to finish my last year and finally graduate. I'll soon have a Bachelor's in Fine Art with a concentration in Graphic Design from Rowan University. Funny thing– I'm a graphic designer with a fine art background. A really intense fine art background. I graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2009; the oldest art school and museum in America. Their art program was fashioned off of art schools in Europe. They didnt even offer a bachelor's degree until the year I was graduating! It was four years of art- and it was the most difficult/fantastic thing I've ever done. So, I guess I'm really a graphic designer with an artists' heart. Let me rewind a little and catch you up on why I'm here today.
I started taking art classes my Sophmore year in High School. I hadn't really had any other art exposure. I grew up in a science house- my mom's a chemistry teacher, my stepdad a lab tech and my dad a retired physics teacher. I used to want to be an astronaut, I knew my periodic table, I knew Schrodinger's cat... But, then I walked into Repenning Fine Arts, did some drawings and really fell in love. I took a figure drawing class and fell completely in love. When I started building my portfolio I always drew people- and still do.
I started at PAFA's four-year certificate program and got knocked over the head. So many talented people! I had started painting just a year before art school- the other students appeared to have started painting in the womb. But I followed my heart- figure drawing, and it got me through the program. To give you an idea what I was thinking back then, here are a few drawings from my senior show at PAFA. I believe PAFA really pushed me onto the path of finding myself as an artist.
I was really into artist Bruce Samuelson, Kathe Kollwitz, Goya... really anything dark, warm and eery. I had an attraction towards textures and pieces of figures. I had read James Lord's "A Giacometti Portrait" and it changed the way I saw making art. The conversations that were made between me and the drawings were another reason to fall in love with art again.
I graduated in 2009, got a job at Barnes & Noble and part-time position at Repenning Fine Arts, and started working in the studio. I've made large bodies of work since that time. A massive project I called "Marilla and the Moon" which featured paintings, a hand-made book and sculpture made out of sticks from the backyard. Then there's also the body of work on this site; the dominant theme here being moody fragments of figures in landscapes. I've always aggressively tried to experiment with materials. A lot of experimenting resulted in garbage, but it's important to keep trying new things until you find what speaks to you.
In 2012, I started considering going back to school to complete my Bachelor's degree. A good friend of mine, Brittany Morris, was almost finished her four years at Moore College of Art and Design. She was focusing on graphic design and showing me all of the cool things she was making! We visited Stefan Sagmeister's "The Happy Show" at University of Penn's Institute of Contemporary Art and I loved it. The show spoke to me in many ways and covered many mediums. I can probably site that experience as the #1 influence on my going back to school.
So I applied to Rowan University, got signed up and I'm two years in- one to go! Woohoo!
The graphic design classes have been surprising. Most teachers insist on grabbing a paper and pencil before jumping to the computer. Well well well, this is where I shine, with a pencil in hand! Ultimately, graphic design's biggest connection to fine art that I've noticed is the creative process. Working with an open mind, working hard to make real your original inspiration but willing to trash what doesn't work, experimenting, and knowing what works and finalizing that idea. After so many years in the studio, me & the creative process are best buds! Making projects has been challenging and fun; I care very much for perfecting details and making sure the design flows. It seems my love of the outdoors continues to find it's way into my designs.
The world around me now looks like a beautiful painting with advertisements and typography stuck on top- bizarre. I've been experimenting in the studio once again. As soon as I have a new body of work, I'll be sure to share it.
My new scope of the art world is now much larger and I am grateful for it. As my eyes open more, I can continue to add more thought and care into my personal work and designs.