Guest Post: Margo Dabaie, MFA ’13, Paying it Forward with Comics

Earlier this month, I had the unique experience of being invited to teach students from the High School of Art and Design about the fundamentals of comic-making. It was a workshop held in conjunction with Will Eisner Week (http://www.willeisnerweek.com/) at the Society of Illustrators in New York.

9h01quMN5lSamWMu7jp2CYETpvj7spP3o-vN8GHtTNQI co-taught the workshop with
Sara Woolley and
N. Stephen Harris, two cartoonists whose works and careers are quite different from mine. We meant it this way, so that we could highlight our unique paths as ways for the students to eventually get their comics work published. Since the students were coming from a magnet art school, we knew they would already know how to draw technically and wanted to challenge them with the storytelling aspects of comics.
After brief introductions by Danny Fingeroth—who discussed Will Eisner’s biography, accomplishments, and how Eisner’s life culminated into a weeklong celebration of comics—and by each of us to give an idea of the kind of work we did, we dove into the hands-on part of the workshop. As a warm-up, we had the students work on comic jams. They split into pairs, made tiny, blank books out of single sheets of paper, and worked on comics together, one page at a time at two minutes per page before passing the book to their partner—sort of like a comics version of Exquisite Corpse. The resulting comics are almost invariably goofy and the students got a kick out of them. But the exercise also helps with drawing loosely and prioritizing the comics style of pacing more than the end product looking beautiful. As a bonus, they also now know how to make a very inexpensive mini-comic out of a single sheet of paper.
We then asked the students to design a character onto a model sheet we supplied and segued into creating a fully completed one-page comic with panel templates. We emphasized thinking of characters that weren’t too complicated. It’s easy to forget sometimes how comics require you to draw the same character over and over!
Watching the students work on their own projects and talking about them was the funnest part for me.

nosO5tZ4xFgCL31X3I1na_MgoqKhdrVvton0dcv2nfMI loved hearing the stories they had in mind because they were always really ornate and involved (I definitely had to drop some gentle reminders that there’s only one page to work with!). It was clear the students were fans of comics and were excited to make work. We had this opportunity to talk more informally with the students as well, and some were very interested in the paths we had taken as artists. It was great to be able to discuss what steps they might take after high school. They also knew their drawing chops and I got to appreciate that!
We’re glad we were able to take the opportunity to impart any information that could help the students in their future art careers; I got to enjoy their energy and innovation.

Thank you, Margo! We are really proud of you!–Melanie

Guest Post: Felipe Muhr, MFA ’15 Curates Latin American Art Show

Migratory Patterns
I came with my heart full of Sinatra
March 20 – 22, 2015
Opening Friday March 20, 2015. 6:00-9:00PM
CuatroH – 56 Bogart Street, Brooklyn, NY 11237. Fourth Floor

Migratory Patterns
showcases the works of nine young artists who were raised in Latin America but have lived and worked in the US in recent years. The exhibition looks to acknowledge that working and exhibiting as artists in the US entails the adoption of a different set of parameters through which these art works are experienced. As Latin Americans, these artists question the prevalence of the stereotypes that surround their practices and the frictions that are created when producing work that is to be read in
both contexts.
Each piece in the show embodies a particular point of view, recreating the complexity of a territory often read through a single narrative. Migratory Patterns provides an opportunity to discuss issues such as immigration, travel, memory, socio-political differences and to open a dialogue in terms of representation between the artists’ home countries and the United States, from a critical perspective.

sebayork_1Adalberto Camperos will be showing his illustrated book Seba York. The work is a result  of his experience in NY while he was still a student at FIT. Through his work, Camperos revisits the notion of New York, not as the luminous city that houses Times Square, but as a disenchanted and dry place that overwhelms him as an ex-pat. Through his drawing practice, a broken-hearted Camperos analyses the food truck culture, the chaotic MTA system, the “do it yourself” philosophy, the sophisticated attires of the locals, and the refined art scene.

felipe muhr pato donald1Current MFA ’15 student Felipe Muhr participates in the show with How to Draw Donald Duck, a large-format drawing based on the Donald Duck comics he used to read as a child in Santiago de Chile and that later became the topic for his written research at FIT. Through his reading of translated, censured and re-edited Donald Duck comic books, Muhr encounters an US American reality that had been renegotiated for the Chilean context. In the spirit of William Hogarth’s diagrams, Muhr replicates backgrounds, objects and graphic gestures found in Donald Duck’s Latin American comics, creating a fictitious manual which revisits the standardized parameter of a commercial drawing form. http://felipemuhr.com

The exhibit also showcases photography, sound, video, performance, sculpture and drawing by Alejandro Yoshii, México; Constanza Alarcón, Chile; Luciana Pinchiero, Argentina; Margarita Sánchez Urdaneta, Colombia; Maricruz Alarcón, Chile; Orlando De la Garza, México; and Paz Ortúzar, Chile.

Guest Blog: Jennifer Merz, MFA’14 writes about SCBWI

From the time that we first met Jenn, her first love was for writing and illustrating children’s books. So who better to get a report about the SCBWI conference. Take a read below and to see more about Jenn, click here:

REPORT FROM THE TRENCHES: Seven Lessons from the 16th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference

By now, you know that I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and that this international, professional organization is key for any creative person in children’s books, whether newbie or pro, or in between.  This organization provides encouragement, support, and information on all aspects of the business.

So, you know that I was thrilled to attend this year’s SCBWI Winter Conference in New York: a three-day affair for over 1400 people held in the swanky halls and conference rooms of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, in Grand Central Station. While I have attended several times in years’ past (different venues), I felt ready to plunge back in, to pick up where I left off before I took a 3-year hiatus to attend FIT for my MFA Degree.

While I didn’t attend Friday’s Intensives, I entered my portfolio in Friday’s Art Directors’ Review.  No prizes for me, but I did get the chance to see a plethora of portfolios on display.  Competition, Baby, competition! Many illustrators had already been published, and most portfolios were of very high quality.  Conference Lesson # 1:  Raise Your Game!

On Saturday, YA writer Anthony Horowitz kicked off events with a humorous, informative speech on how to grab young readers from first line to last.  He spoke of looking for “light bulb moments” to give your writing authority of tone and truthfulness of character.  Never write down for children, he advised.  Make the children rise up.  Lesson # 2: Kids are Smart.  Don’t Patronize Your Audience.

This was followed by an Editors’ Panel, a Report from the Front Lines, by four distinguished publishers.  My best take-aways were Laura Godwin’s remark that we are going into a Renaissance of the picture book, even though adult titles are currently flat; and Stephanie Owens Lurie’s advice for writers and illustrators to ‘look broader’ than just having the goal of publishing one story.  (She also said that kids prefer hardcopies over eBooks!)

My first break-out session was with Ben Rosenthal of Katherine Tegen Books on Creating Nonfiction.  His advice “not to overvalue information over narrative” gave me food for thought re: my picture book proposal on the Triangle Factory Fire.  I will need to take another look at that…  It was wonderful to hear that literary non-fiction is desirable now.  Lesson # 3: Narrative, Narrative, Narrative (even in nonfiction).

I also had a break-out session with agent Heather Alexander (Pippin Properties) onDeveloping Your Brand and Career Path.  This event was disappointing to me, however, perhaps because so much of the info was familiar to me from my FIT classes.  Heather also had tech problems, and that didn’t help, either.

Saturday ended with two dynamite presentations to the entire conference: Hervé Tullet of wide-spread picture-book fame declared his love for producing books that express ideas, those that might shock or provoke.  Like Eric Carle’s books-as-toys before him, Hervé aims for freedom from the expected, books that are engaging as toys. Lesson # 4: Take Risks!

Kami Garcia, author of teen novel Beautiful Creatures, concluded Sat. night’s events, speaking of her publishing experience.  She took many risks in creating her book since she was not writing to be published, but writing for the love of her teen readers’ group.  (Kami is a teacher.)  She advised: Who is reading your book? Who is your tribe?  Lesson # 5: Write for Your Audience, Not to ‘Get Published’.

 

As if Saturday’s events weren’t enough, I kid you not when I say that Sunday’s were evenBETTER.  Please keep reading!

Picture book writer/illustrator and Caldecott Honor winner Laura Vaccaro Seeger was first up on Sunday morning with a CAPTIVATING presentation. Her generous display included sketchbooks, journals, and lists, giving all of us a peek into her incredible process.  She showed us how she creates her deceptively simple concept books, reminiscent of the work of Lois Ehlert, and how all fits together like a Rubik’s cube.  She spoke of the power of certain words, and leaving something to the imagination.  I was mesmerized and told her so later on.  Lesson # 6:  Be True to Your Vision.

James Dashner of Maze Runner fame was up next, with a humorous speech on Writing Commercial Fiction, followed by an Agent Panel.

The last speaker of the day, however, was the one that truly brought down the house.  Newbery Winner Kwame Alexander was simply electric!! In an engaging presentation,Saying Yes to the Writerly Life, the talk centered on his own writing journey, and was peppered with his emotionally-charged poems (yes, there were tears flowing…), and was infused with his humor, his advice, his humility, his charisma.  Working the room like a powerful preacher, he asked the crowd, “How are you going to live this writerly life?” Answer: “Not just sitting in a room writing; it’s about getting out there and living,” he advised.   Woven into the info and narrative was the lesson to say yes to opportunities that come your way, and the mantra: “Do not let other peoples’ “NOs” define your Yes.”   That bears repeating:  Lesson # 7: Do Not Let Other Peoples’ “Nos” Define Your “Yes”!

Needless to say, I bought Kwame’s Newbery book, The Crossover, and had him sign it to me, too.  I told him how enthralled I was by his speech, and that I was moved to tears when he’d recited his poem on his daughter’s growing up, adding that my own daughter had just gotten married.  He replied, with an impish grin, “Then you know what that’s all about.”  Indeed, I do.  Thank you, Kwame.
Then we all went home, tired but inspired, and ready to take up the challenge of our work once again.
Until next time,
Creatively yours,
Jenn

THAT’S NOT ALL-

55th Long Island Artists ExhibitionJenn will be speaking about her own book,
and Visual Thesis Project, SEW STRONG, on Long Island.

 

 

And More….

The payback from Chroma, our MFA in Illustration Visual Thesis Show, ’14.  just keeps
on growing…

Jennifer Merz was signed on for a multiple book contract by a literary agent who saw and loved Jenn’s Sew Strong book- the story of the Triangle Factory Fire. Thanks to Professor Carmile Zaino who introduced the two through her class. Congratulations, and good luck, Jenn!!!

Julie Muszynski has just joined the ranks of the adjunct faculty at Parsons School of Design. Julie~ Congratulations and good luck to you!

Look Who’s Talking: MFA Alum at SI

landmarksThe project that Stephen Gardner, MFA ’11,  started in his first semester at FIT keeps giving. Stephen, our lovable bloke from the England, and now a US citizen, started drawing in bars around NY for his sketchbook assignment. On to painting those drawings, then, mugs, calendars, a stream of interviews, awards, blogs, all about the landmark bars of NY. And now, a lecture at the Society of Illustrators in New York to celebrate the landmarks of New York. This should be great! Wednesday, April 16, 2014. Click here for the info.

Look Who’s Talking- Interview!

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 12.46.41 PMBri Hermanson, MFA ’11 is interviewed by Mark Kaufman for ICON8 The Illustration Conference. Only a select few get this nod- Check it out here. ICON8 is the place to be this summer- gathering in Portland with three amazing days for illustration folks around the globe. The MFA in Illustration at FIT is proud to say that faculty members Martha Rich and Aya Kakeda will be in Portland this summer- and Chairperson Melanie Reim will be the Volunteer Coordinator again- ICON6 and ICON7, too!

More!

As the awards season got underway, we were so thrilled to see that Bri Hermanson, MFA’11, Chad Wallace, MFA ’11, Sam Kalda, MFA ’14, and Maria Carluccio, MFA ’16 all had work selected into the prestigious Society of Illustrators Annual Show.

Bri Hermanson, Hyde

Bri Hermanson, Hyde

 

Sam Kalda

Sam Kalda

 

 

Chad Wallace, Fireflies

Chad Wallace, Fireflies


Maria Carluccio

Maria Carluccio

For the love of Chimps: Nathaniel Gold MFA ’11

Today marks another chapter in Nathaniel Gold’s life-long ambition to be “The Chimp Artist.” Nathaniel has long been a lover and a champion for the rights of chimpanzees. What began as an MA  capstone project and continued with Nathaniel’s MFA Visual Thesis presentation, has grown in unexpected ways, from a regular column in Scientific American online to today-the opening of Nathaniel’s collaborative show, Equality and Individuality,  in Vero Beach, Florida.  All proceeds will go to the Save the Chimps organization and the preservation of the animals so near and dear to us all, but especially to Nathaniel. The show runs from May 1 to June 1. Great work, Nathaniel and best of luck to you!