“My comic sketch during Inktober, came from my enthusiasm for starting my transition,” says Taylor “Blue” Summerfield (Computer Animation-Interactive Media ’19). “It shows a conversation between myself and my partner, so lighthearted and happy.”
Summerfield received his AAS in Illustration. He says that although he’s now an animation student, he “retains a love for Illustration–so I’m participating in Inktober. It’s a fun warm-up or cool-down to my schoolwork,” he says.
Inktober is a month-long event, which often involves following prompts, for drawing each day’s sketch. For his “I’m on Hormones” comic sketch, he followed his own inner prompt:
“I find the best way to express my feelings is through drawing. It can be difficult to express in a journal or personal blog how I feel about my transition journey. But with drawing, even if it’s just a quick sketch, it can catch the energy of the moment that I’m bursting to tell people, and pin it to paper,” says Summerfield.
“Summerfield’s drawings are a sequence of images expressing a personal experience. They communicate a profound meaning beyond the pictures.” – Ed Soyka, Chair, Illustration
“I digitized my original Inktober drawing (above), by bringing it into Paint Tool SAI and Photoshop,” explains Summerfield. His initial drawing was done in Faber-Castell markers and white gel pen on gray-toned paper.
“The sketch was inspired by an earlier one I did over the summer, ‘She Called Me Sir.’ It was before I started hormone treatment,” says Summerfield.
“It was about the first time that a stranger at my job referred to me as ‘sir’ and with male pronouns. I was overwhelmed at the time and decided to make a comic about it– the same excitement that drove me to make the comic about my hormone treatment,” he says.
“Both comic sketches reflect key moments that I and other transgender people experience in our transitions,” says Taylor “Blue” Summerfield
“Everything–be it the beginning of hormones and the instant feeling that things are finally going right, or the act of being recognized for the first time as who you actually are by a total stranger–matters so much to me. I plan to make more comics as I continue to become who I am,” he says.
To see more of Summerfield’s drawings and animations go follow him on Instagram at: @coldpups.art
When Anna Niklova (Illustration ’18), notices an appealing flash of color in a passerby’s outfit, she is quick to offer a compliment. In her senior year she began noticing a less subtle trend. Call it accessories grandstanding. “Funky, colorful socks with all kinds of patterns came into vogue, often with footwear adapted to show off the designs,” she said. Niklova decided to capture the sock-and-footwear swagger.
For her Senior Book Illustration class with Professor John Nickle, she adapted and expanded her sock-and-shoe illustrations. The working title for the 24-page book is “Sock in Shoes that they don’t belong in…or do they?”
“I was intrigued by how accessories change and adapt. I saw how capturing an emerging trend captivates others as well,” she says.
“Socks in heels seemed groundbreaking. I was seeing it everywhere,” says Niklova. “I concentrated on the socks in this [above] illustration. It was challenging to portray sheer, embroidered socks. I liked the idea of being able to show off a pedicure even in cold weather!” she says.
“I totally loved Anna’s book — her sense of humor and her illustration style. Her shoe and sock styles are so on point with trends and fads.” – Sarah Mullins, Chair, Accessories Design
“Socks and sandals seem like the most stereotypical ‘wrong’ combination! It’s been mocked as a ‘dad’ fashion choice. I wanted to show a look that’s somewhat in between; it still looks like a dad combo, but a relatively cool one,” she says.
“Prof. Nickle encouraged me to add text to my work. It was fun creating lines for each illustration and using sign painters’ inspired fonts. I wanted the book to be colorful, quirky and fashionable but also funny, which is partially why I chose a ridiculously long [book] title,” says Niklova.
“What I love about Anna’s book is that it’s a concept book that is both goofyand sophisticated. She seamlessly blends retro type design, graphic design and nuanced illustration.” – Professor John Nickle, Illustration
Jelly shoes, plastic shoes also known as “jellies,” were the most fun for Niklova. “They can be uncomfortable to wear without socks, so people have gotten to wearing colorful, patterned socks with right colored jelly shoes. Because of the shoe’s transparency, it begs for a fun pattern to show through. I also had fun with the different meanings of ‘jelly,’” she says.
“Anna Niklova’s engaging and sophisticated illustrations have street cred and they certainly demonstrate her design chops. Her work captures how individuals drive trends, in this case by adapting accessories in ways that are both useful and wonderfully expressive. By bridging two of our design areas–accessories and illustration—she represents innovative and interdisciplinary approaches that typify FIT.” – Troy Richards, Dean, School of Art and Design
The thong flip flop has some history beyond NYC sidewalks. “My original vision was unflattering, yet it turned out looking better than most socks with flip flops do. Maybe I should have gone for the five-toe-socks, which have a slightly disconcerting look,” she says.
“I visited Japan over the summer and gained a new perspective on this combination. I am working on an illustration of the traditional Tabi socks in the Zori shoes, the origin behind the westernized flip flops.
“Birkenstocks are especially personal. I used to think of them as shoes you might only wear at home, or as pharmaceutical footwear. But I fell in love with them and now spend the summer in them. I’ll carry a pair of socks in my bag for when it gets cooler at night. I enjoyed picking the colors for this one, using the light blue for the outlines as well as creating the socks’ pattern,” says Niklova.
“It’s getting cooler and more funky sock-shoe combinations are popping up. I am expanding the book and hope to share it with a larger audience. I want to inspire others to experiment with their footwear and extravagant socks. Everyone has to keep their feet warm. Have a little fun with it!”
“Even the pastries were intensely colorful,” says Prof. Jada Schumacher, “so were the window displays, stain glass lettering, cobblestones, oysters next to lemons and limes, the fabric and grosgrain ribbons, clothing in the Marais district, the flowers and leaf colors.”
They are just a few vibrant details from A Color Voyage study abroad class in Paris and the South of France, where students become immersed in color, its creative legacy, historical and contemporary applications.
“Students cross-pollinate and share ideas about color and light from different fields of study,” says Communication Design Pathways professor Jada Schumacher who designed the course, which is open to students college-wide.
A visit to Monet’s water lily gardens at Giverny made for stunning vistas.
“Students love that they’ve seen these paintings so many times but hadn’t understood the cropping and scales. You see that it’s the only way possible to frame a painting in this space because it’s so full and lush and overgrown.”
Monet’s predilections make more sense. “He had the garden staff wipe off the leaves so that they reflected light well when he painted,” says Prof. Schumacher.
Students toured the Gobelins Factory, the still-functioning French national tapestry factory from 17th century.
“Michel Eugène Chevreul, a color theorist and chemist from the early 1800s worked at the Factory. He coined the term “simultaneous contrast,” a basic term in color theory. “It refers to how colors are perceived differently when they are next to each other, which create challenges for artists and designers, and merchandisers,” says Prof. Schumacher.
Students were “dazzled” inside the former limestone quarries, which are now light projection spaces at Carrières de Lumières (quarries of light).
“Motifs from 1960s pop and classical paintings provide a wrap-around experience to the space. Along with the power of music it provides an immersive experience,” says Prof. Schumacher.
“In France students used images and online resources in researching topics related to the exhibition. Then they explored the cities, going on pink photography expeditions to hunt and capture images that reveal interesting, intentional, and notable uses of the color pink,” says Prof. Schumacher.
“It was an incredible color adventure!” she says.
For more information about upcoming study abroad programs, please go to Study Abroad FIT
To see more of Prof. Jada Schumacher’s work visit her website: DesignOrange and Instagram account @design_orange.
Photography professor Curtis Willocks was honored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on Friday, September 14 as a cultural innovator and for his role in the vibrant cultural life of Manhattan communities. The event, part of the kick-off for the African American Parade 2018, took place at the Schomburg Center for Research in African American Culture. Many of his students and fellow faculty members, beaming with pride, were in attendance.
“Curtis is extremely well respected. To have him on the list is an honor for all of us,” said the Manhattan Borough President. “He’s being honored for his art and teaching.”
“This recognition suits Curtis perfectly,” says Photography Prof. Max Hilaire “He’s an exemplary person. He creates sanctuaries to uplift his students. He is involved on so many fronts: FIT, FIT Photo Club, ICP, Photoville, Penumbra, Chinatown, Coney Island, Fashion Industries High School and more. He maintains strong industry contacts with many top manufacturers and their representatives.
“Above all, the quality of his photography reveals a kind heart, modest and enriching.”
A roar went out when Prof. Willocks was called to the podium.
Said Eliani Corriette, (Fashion Design), “I am so happy to be surrounded by other friends of Curtis’ and FIT alumni at this event. We got to see our dear friend and professor be honored for his work for the years he has put into the community. I have to admit, we were all prepared to make a lot of noise when they called his name to receive his award in hand!”
“Curtis Willocks is truly a one-of-a-kind professor, friend, and human being,” says Photography alumna Erin Lefevre (’13). “He repeatedly goes above and beyond to broaden his students’ perspectives and positively fosters their love for photography and creativity as artists.”
The honorees assembled for a photograph after the ceremony. Former Mayor David Dinkins was in attendance.
“His selflessness, dedication, his passion as an educator is unlike anyone else I have ever encountered” says Lefevre. “It was so fulfilling to watch him be publicly recognized for all of the wonderful work he contributes to his communities.”
Says Prof. Hilaire, “Curtis has been a steadfast friend, honest, generous, humble, comforting with a magnetic approach.”
A recent work by Hendel Futerfas (’12) highlights one of the themes of Labor Day, which had much to do with the development of garment manufacturing. “It evokes feelings of nostalgia for an older and simpler time,” says the Fine Arts alum of his oil on canvas.
“I like the idea of infusing a flare of modern color. I see it in a way as bridging the then and now,” says Futerfas.
Angela Rizza has long been obsessed by detail, “starting with ballpoint pen drawings in high school where I’d render each illustration with pens using them like graphite, to FIT where I’d zoom in at 200 percent on the computer and go to town on some animal scales.” Rizza’s early work was influenced by the realistic style of her grandfather, John Leone, an oil painter of American West scenery.
For Rizza, art is life… and the bigger the audience and the better her drawings’ detail, the better. Her career’s fast rise, and the fact that she does art that she loves, holds many lessons.
“I’ve been told ‘less is more’ and to only render focal points. But there’s something about capturing each line in a row of feathers or creating embroidery patterns in a dress. I find a calm that I love, hence all of the detail in my artwork,” says Rizza.
Throughout college Rizza experimented with traditional mediums, mostly in black and white. While she had an eye for color, she says she had trouble applying it while protecting her drawings. She experimented with gouache, watercolor, acrylic, pigmented inks, and oils.
By senior year, she honed a technique for creating tightly rendered graphic drawings, to which she applied layers of oil paint glazes. “It created this great old-school storybook effect, but is was less practical when it came to real life jobs; I didn’t have a month to let the oils dry, and they were difficult to scan and photograph.”
Angela’s development as a professional, what empowers her to create great work, emanates from both traditional skills and problem-solving abilities. It’s what empowers her to create great work. What is outstanding is how she is able to apply her imagination. she has a unique vision of what might be.” – Ed Soyka, Chair, Illustration
Her first year after graduating in 2011 was spent experimenting. In order to color a piece and not smudge or undermine the meticulous line work, she transitioned to Photoshop to create graphite-like drawings that were colored digitally. She also started using ink for a crisper look to her work. “The end result was a finished, print-ready illustration in two or three days, and I could get really elaborate with coloring my drawing,” she says.
To illustrate children’s books, she began creating illustrations based on favorite stories like Tolkien’s work and Game of Thrones. She also created fan art to build a larger audience on social media.
“Draw what you love and the work you want will find you,” was the advice from other artists that she took to heart. It worked. By her second year out, Rizza’s Tolkien art was featured in a book about his stories. She was invited by HBO to attend the Game of Thrones season premiere in New York City. She stood on the red carpet and got to watch the first episode of the season.
Her next turn was creating geometric, carefree work with a folk art twist. She reinterpreted animals and plants as clusters of patterns within a shape. “I’d begin with a basic silhouette of, say, a chicken and draw the shape of the wings, then shapes within the shape and shapes within those. I would had a colorful piece filled with details I love, that were less serious and more lighthearted.”
“I got to draw dinosaurs!…It was a dream job to create something that my childhood self would have begged for!” Angela Rizza
Her love of line and detail work was ideal for activity books. In 2016 her first coloring book was published. “The Book of Beasts” is filled with monsters of myth and fantasy. Her sequel, “The Book of Prehistoric Beasts,” came out last year. “I got to draw dinosaurs. I was obsessed with dinosaurs throughout elementary school. It was a dream job to create something that my childhood self would have begged for!” Two Scratch Pad activity books on nature and mythology followed. She is currently working on two more.
Her work next appeared in shows hosted by Light Grey Art Lab run by young illustrators. One themed-exhibit, “Skate or Die,” featured her work on skate decks for Halloween, and her work was part of a tarot deck for another such collaborative show.
Angela’s work and craftsmanship has soared since she graduated. Her composition has grown more complex. The maturity of her work is really phenomenal. Part of her evolution comes from adding new ways of working, which she continually does in new work..She is always creating! – Illustration Prof. Kam Mak
Once she had “a decent portfolio” and audience, Rizza started indulging in her love of birds and nature. While her first pieces were in simple settings, Audubon-like, she began finding parallels between flora and fauna, such as a flower sharing the same accent color as a specific type of bird, or the patterns on an owl looking similar to a piece of bark. In some pieces she found parallels between animals–like the eyes of an owl and the markings of a moth.
Fabric Styling BFA students come from a variety of majors and not all have the painting experience that Professor Sara Petitt finds important for creating original fabric designs.
Students painting from inspiration cards before translating to Bristol paper and digital scanning
“I want students to be able to scan painted and drawn images into the computer and continue to work on them digitally. This way they expand their design options and add something to the mix that’s exciting,” she says.
To find inspiration from sources they might not otherwise use, Prof. Petitt brought her sixth-semester Color Combinations and Repeats class to Chelsea art galleries where the students viewed contemporary art and collected invitational postcards of work they admired.
“The goal is not to copy artists’ work but to appreciate the beauty of the brush strokes and the nuanced lines, which is quite different than beginning with computer imagery,” she said.
Upon return from some 20 galleries, students hand-painted their chosen images on copies of newsprint in order to experiment freely.
“Students shouldn’t overlook the beauty of the painted line, which has a vitality that escapes even the best digital paint brush tool. There’s something different about holding a brush or a pen or a pencil and drawing or painting,” she says.
“I encourage them to take elements of the postcards and to paint with gouaches, water-based tempera paints,” says Prof. Petitt. “I want them to combine the spontaneity of drawing. To keep the feeling of freedom I’m having them work on newspaper.”
After exploring the design they then paint on Bristol paper, to later be scanned and mapped as product samples. Students chose to create their final output for either home fashions or apparel.
“Working this way makes our designs more personal, versus working directly with computers, which tends be straight lines, clean squares and shapes.”- Fabric Styling student Chaerhin Kim
“I want them to do all-over, tossed designs,” says Petitt. “They should have a sense of where the pattern repeats on printed cloth. We spend time doing tracing layouts. It’s different doing a hands-on repeat as opposed to a digital repeat,” says Petitt.
“When the students go back and do their work digitally they will be aware of additional possible design layouts, ones that reflect their inner aesthetic and personality.” she says.
“This is the first time I used gouache. I can mix a lot of colors and make a lot of variations. It’s freehand, so we can get what we want easier than with the computers. If we make mistakes we can still overlap and change into a new design.” – Fabric Design student Soyeon Kim
“Textile designers should enjoy creating their designs. Your soul shows though in your work! They need to understand good design because many fashion fields deal with print and pattern,” says Prof. Petitt.
Students in Prof. Petitt’s class learn the hand fundamentals before they go into the digital world. “They’ll take that with them and it will only serve them well,” she says.
“I enjoyed the Chelsea art galleries as a source of inspiration. I hadn’t been there before. It was good to get that experience in a class like this to see different color forms and artistic ways.” Fabric Design student Laura Onuska
“We’re so lucky to be in New York City, the art, cultural and fashion capital of the world. I want them to experience as much as they can of what the city has to offer and use it as inspiration for their work.”
Photography student Michaela Lawson was struck last August by inspiration so strong for Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy album Damn that she was compelled to “speak her truth” about it. Unintimidated by the album’s stature, she became part of an informal community of artists independently responding to it.
“My photography is not only inspired by the visual arts of different periods, but by other mediums, especially music,” says Lawson. The overarching theme of Lamar’s lyrics is “’You decide the choices you make. How do you want to see the outcome of things?’” she says. “It brought me to ask myself how I might approach my photography and express myself the best way I can. I had to start thinking what I wanted to show the viewer.” Planning it all on her own was a personal challenge, she says.
Lawson says she listened intently to “every beat, and lyric-by-lyric, to deconstruct and decipher it until I understood each individual theme of the 14 tracks.” The multiple interpretations and complexity of the album didn’t escape her. By October 26, she had a set of photos responding to each song. “I chose a line from each of the 14 songs that stood out for me. I made it a priority to visually explain how this could connect to me,” says Lawson.
“I am impressed by Michaela’s work. Her use of color and the striking compositions of these photos are powerful. While being attuned to the times and current culture, she clearly has a personal vision that is evident in every one of these photos.” – Troy Richards, Dean, School of Art and Design
“Songs like ‘XXX’ made me look at my world, my feelings toward America and how it has treated my people and anyone less fortunate,” says Lawson. “ I found lines like: “’America please take my hand, can you help me under’– it cut off at ‘under’ — which is intriguing to me.” She says she used her visuals to amplify the consequences of the country’s current gun laws and interpretations of Second Amendment rights.
“I created a handmade physical notebook for the project and printed miniature pictures for references. I made a calendar with a final deadline before Thanksgiving break. Almost every October weekend I shot. “I used lighting equipment and gels that complimented Black complexions. I used red and blue, big and small depending how much red and how much blue. I also wanted to light black skin in a visually pleasing way. It coincided with the theme of Wickedness vs. Weakness,” she said.
“Michaela is someone to watch. She’s influenced by movies, books, words, definitely music–not only visual things but her experiences. She’s quiet but assimilating things around her. It allows her to produce. She’s a self-motivator. Yes, there are outside things that motivate her. I’d classify it as being an artist. An artist should always be producing and she always is.” – Prof. Curtis Willocks
“The models I used brought their own postures, their own style–we all connected as one. I enjoyed working with so many different Black people. We talked about each song,” she said. “It was a coincidence that we were learning to use strobes in class [Photo 3: Advance Photographic Solutions]and that was what I needed the most to help me with the project,” she said.
“David Joseph who works in the cage [where photographic equipment is stored] gave me advice about equipment. Professor Willocks gave me help in the studio. Being able to try the strobes and decide on effects these expensive things make possible was terrific. Now I carry that knowledge wherever I go. “Professor Willocks would always say ‘You have these resources –the equipment and lighting, lenses, cameras — Use it!’ His class made me a better photographer. If I wasn’t at the school I probably would not have done this project. The resources–there is so much you can do.”
“The models I chose reflect how I see myself. Not extravagant, but people who dress like me and express me in my culture as a Black woman in America. I wanted to show Black love, Black friendships, Black fear, Black pain, and of course pride.”
There’s a great story behind the groupings of textile samples now on display in the Feldman Center fifth floor hallway. The swatches, with their 3D texture, have themes, style and color suitable for upholstery or apparel. Woven samples like these are used for student portfolios and as selling tools by the industry.
Textile Surface Design students use computer-aided hand looms to develop the weaving and software skills used in industry production. “Developing the technical and creative skills that are in keeping with the inherent limitations of the looms and software,” says Professor Nomi Kleinman, “requires critical thinking as well as artistic sense.”
The collections were created in Complex Dobby Wovens (TD 334) class, which focuses on industry practices for designing woven fabrics using the computer-aided design program Pointcarre. Part of the assignment, says Prof. Kleinman, was to develop collections coordinated through color and one of three trend options.
Prof. Kleinman pointed to various student work that stretches the limits of design using the technology.
“Mia’s work [above] is successful because of the stylized shapes and minimalist look. She responded creatively to a trend that was assigned, by drawing her own shapes and then adapting those using the software,” said Prof. Kleinman.
“Stephanie [above] did a beautiful job interpreting her sketches from idea to fabric. The software allowed for highly detailed adaptation of original sketches,” said Prof. Kleinman.
“The use of Pointcarre has allowed students access to industry-wide textile software to produce real world fabrics. Their knowledge of weaving, coupled with Pointcarre’s advanced tools and functions, enables students to design within the constraints and rules they would apply when going to production. We can easily see from the examples the students have woven that understanding those parameters has enabled them to be ready for anything that is asked of them.” – Steve Greenberg, President, Pointcarre USA.
The students used a construction technique called Pique, which means “to prick” in French. The name comes from the quilted quality of the construction, which can be seen in all the student work.
“Alexa accomplished beautiful dimension in her fabrics [above]. They have an almost carved out quality. She’s walking this line between organic and geometric shapes,” says Prof. Kleinman.
Donna Schneiderman’s work, above, is a unique theme, says Prof. Kleinman. “She did alternative camouflage. She developed this brightly sun-kissed colored look. The shapes are reinterpretations of standard camouflage. She worked within the parameters of the loom to develop sophisticated patterns.”
Says Prof. Kleinman “Miriam Ortega drew on her family’s Central American heritage as inspiration and redrew traditional motifs. The yarns she chose give it a water-color-painted effect and bring something very unexpected to the surface.”
“One of the fabulous things about these fabrics [of Keira Wiggin’s above] is the scale,” said Prof. Kleinman. “In weaving we’re limited by width, but not height. She used that to her advantage to develop designs that appear very large scale. She reinterpreted the diamond in several different ways to bring something new to the familiar motif.”
If you’re thinking you can buy a yard of fabric from a student you may be out of luck. These take up to an hour an inch to weave.
“Industry employers would be motivated to hire students based on seeing structure like these,” says Kleinman “It shows how they understand the building blocks of woven designs, their color abilities and sense of style.”
As told to by fourth semester photography student Haleigh Foray:
It’s my job as a photographer to make my subject feel comfortable and real in front of the camera. Yet I wasn’t able to feel that way myself as a subject. So how could I ask someone to do that for me? During a six-week project I became more myself and free.
At the start of the winter break, Professor Curtis Willocks gave an assignment to our Traditional Photography (PH253) class that would be due at the start of the semester. We were to assume the role of a LIFE magazine photographer of the 1950s. Any topic was fair game, even if it had a contemporary relevance. In deciding what to capture, I kept coming back to self-portraiture.
I came across a project “Self-Untitled” by photographer Samantha Geballe. Her work explores body image through self portraits, which she states “envisions the feeling that false interpretation provokes.” She put herself forward for everyone to see, with nothing to hide — something I’ve struggled with doing. The focus of my project proposal was to be comfortable and confident in front of the camera, whether I or another photographer was taking the photographs.
“Haleigh’s work is just beautiful. Her composition, her use of light, her style. She’s very sensitive to people, always helping and assisting others, and now she’s applying that sensitivity to herself. This project gave her the chance to express herself–who she is as a young woman” – Professor Curtis Willocks
There was a musical component that set the tone of the project: “She sits beside me like a silhouette“ sings Harry Styles in a song from a recent solo album. Those words took on a special meaning for me–Silhouettes show your body.
Women are still expected to act and look a certain way in projecting their confidence and beauty that’s limiting in scope. I wanted to show that you just need to own your body for what it is now, in the present.