Friday, October 8, 2010

I woke up this morning thinking about the notion of starting from the very beginning.
Do - Re - Mi.
The work that I'm doing with my students at MICA is new for everyone, and this newness doesn't just come in the form of trying to translate our illustrations into various applications for the stage, but also that we have to worry about money; or rather not having much of it to begin with. As a result we're forced to use inexpensive and sometimes found materials to construct the visual components of our production. This is encouraging us to think outside of the box.
Which is probably a good thing.
When I was young, I used to construct toys out of all of sorts of things: paper, egg cartons, tape, peanuts, yogurt containers; it was fun. Being oblivious of what the outcome would be was the exciting part because it took some savvy and flexing of my brain to understand through physical manipulation what the qualities and potential of these materials were and could be. It was a wonderful time to sit and spend hours cutting and sewing and painting and gluing parts together into some kind of form that would allude to a robot, tank or a pair of slippers. This notion of newness, of trying something for the first time is becoming prevalent within the kind of work that I'm doing alongside my commercial work.
I've been asked recently if I am still illustrating, not by one, or two people, but by a few. These questions made me nervous because I wasn't certain where these ideas stemmed from. So, naturally I began to wonder about this.
I had a conversation with some students once about the idea of community. This arose from their own feelings about not having received certain things from their own school community; that it was too much of this or too little of that. My response was for them to seek out a new one , but to keep in mind the idea that they don't have to give up their current community. I suggested for them to contact those individuals who inspired them, who would act as willing mentors in a non-formal way, to seek out those places that carried the kind of buzz that they were looking for. To dialogue with others, and to share their news about those things that they find interesting.
This idea of roots and wings; of planting roots into a place firmly enough to support the venturing out towards growth in other areas of one's life and profession is very intriguing to me. Embracing new beginnings, of starting from the very beginning, suggests to me that those new interests of mine, which are rooted in commercial art but overtly exist outside of my own illustration practice, have become a necessary part and function of my career. These interests appease the different facets of myself; however, they are not mutually exclusive, but help to nurture, nourish and generate my overall creativity.
I have thought many times about the question of what kind of illustrator I want to be. I have even posed this question to my students. For me, the kind of illustrator I want to be is one whose work consists of projects that are both commercial and personal, which transcend one discipline, and can be expressed in many different ways.
* the images at the top of the page are of workshop costume samples from the production of The Snow Queen, which will be performed in December through MICA's Illustration department.

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