Sunday, July 31, 2016

Learning in a New Environment

Before this summer when it came to my future, I can safely say I was pretty lost. For three years I had been an illustration major. You could find me sitting in an uncomfortable chair slaving away over an artwork for an imaginary client. Second semester of my Junior year I switched gears and entered the Print program. Once I came closer to the summer, I knew I wanted another new experience. Smith Memorial did just that and more.

Smith Memorial helped funnel my whirlwind of ideas down into something a little more tangible. Here's what I've learned from my experience and the goals that formed from it.

1. I don't have to be working with art for me to be happy: As my college years progressed it was becoming clear that I may not want to do a strictly artistic profession. This realization came with an amount of guilt because I love creating. But working with Smith helped put this deep feeling into a clearer view. I didn't have to be constantly creating to be "creative".

2. I want to work for a non-profit: I stated this in my previous post. But as the weeks progress the idea feels more and more right. I truly want to be of some purpose on this earth. I recently received advice that I will never forget. I asked about how I could impact the world and make a difference. The reply was not to think you can fix everything because you will only end up disappointed. But to create a goal that you can realistically do. Working for a non-profit is my first step on that path.

3. Keep trying new things: Both my bosses stressed the importance of exploring the world around you. Their statements on this subject I won't forget. I have been striving this year to push myself out of my comfort zones. I believe it is the only way you can truly learn and become a better person. So I will continue to try new jobs and situations.

4. I will continue to surround myself with inspiring people: The mostly female staff at Smith were all wonderful people. It is rare that I would be enamored with so many people at once. Each woman held her own sense of strength. The community they had formed out of trust in each other is truly inspiring. I want such an environment for myself when it comes to work.

Personal and Professional Long Term Goals

Before this fellowship the idea of running my own business working as a designer started as an idea that ran cross my mind one day and after working with my mentor I decided that I wanted that idea to turn into more than just that. I became more in tune with myself and wanted to actually learn more about marketing and networking to get the ball rolling. 

Personally, sometimes it is definitely a struggle being an ambivert and having to communicate with others and being a social butterfly. Working in this business, I’ve learned how to maneuver from those feelings to be successful at making things happen for myself. My most important personal goal is to be consistent and to understand that I can make mistakes but to utilize those mistakes into understanding and to learn how to not give up on myself.

Professionally, I want to be able to own my own clothing line and design studio. My mentor allowed me to think about how my present day ideas can turn into my future. She allowed to me think about how to make things happen and how to be self-sufficient. As an student, I hardly ever thought about how saving money now can be beneficial to my future or to even think about finances. 

I think that we think there isn’t much to be done or we can hardly afford to save with the overwhelming expenses of supplies and life, but I learned that my future self will definitely appreciate me for thinking about this presently and how important this decision was. 

I also appreciated how Marisha has full creative control of her studio and business and she taught me a lot about what it takes to run a small business. As a woman it was very inspiring to see another woman, and meet other female screen printers accomplishing their dreams and doing what made them completely happy. 

Creatively, she also inspired to me to think about textile design and using screen printing in my future work. 

Studio Time

One thing I expressed to Marisha was my love for fabric and how I really wanted to work with it. She made sure that I learned a little about the process of screen printing on fabric and how to choose certain dyes/inks for certain colored or types of fabric. 

This was important because, certain inks/dyes react differently to different kinds of materials. We first started this process by gathering different materials for me to print on. Using a screen I had already prepared, we gathered our inks, and set up our registration and placement of where we would print. 

The first thing I decided to print on was an old cotton black dress I had and decided it would be perfect to print on. Marisha made aware to me that black and the type of fabric we used can be a little tough to print on especially using acrylic screen printing ink due to how the material may take to the ink, and how easily the image could get lost on a dark material. Luckily, we were able to use certain colors to achieve a good print. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Music Lessons

The office that I work in is right in between the two music rooms and most afternoons, I could hear kids taking instrument and voice lessons. I took piano lessons when I was younger and guitar when I was around 14, but never spent a lot of time practicing and writing myself until the last year when I started a band. I wish I had stuck with music as a kid instead of waiting until now to put any effort into it!

I made a video to promote the music lessons on social media using the song "twinkle twinkle little star." It starts with piano because that's a common instrument that kids start learning on, and then other instruments (or just things that make sound) are added into the song. The handwritten piece at the end helps relate the video to some other visual things I've made this summer, because I want everything to have a consistent look.

One of the best parts about making the videos and pictures this summer has been being able to apply my own personal style to someone else's concept - I've been able to take things that I love to use in my own work, like handwritten text and very quick cuts, and put them in these videos. I use similar visuals in all the videos and pictures to create consistency and represent the spirit of the art center.

Art Show

This summer I also helped arrange and hang an art show at the center, as well as promote it and show some of my own work.

The show, called aspirations, showcased the work of local artists who were involved with Eilandarts. Some of the artists were teachers at the summer program as well, and there was a variety of mediums - paintings, mosaics, ceramics, photographs, drawings, and books. We laid out all the work and determined the layout of the show by drawing color and style comparisons between the different artists. I photographed the work once it was hung up and used the images to create the postcard.

I also hung some of my own work in the show - an two silver gelatin prints, and a book called "TOUCH AND FEEL: FOR GIRLS." I then combined the photographs of the work with some handwritten text to create a short promotional video for the opening:

This was my first show post-grad and it was very fun to help curate and promote it, and to have the opportunity to participate with some more established local artists! A goal that I have for myself is to have my own gallery one day and I want to be a curator and help promote local artists, so this is really relevant to that and it was great to see such a variety of interesting work, and figure out how it all fits together.

Summer Camp

After the summer program started, I shifted my focus from social media to helping teach and work with the kids. The camps ranged from art classes to theater to music to writing, and I helped with the art ones.

I also TA at the UArts Precollege program but this was a very different experience from that because the kids are much younger, ages 5-12. The most difficult part is trying to modify the activities so that the younger and older kids can all be engaged with the same thing. This is similar to precollege, where we will have to bridge the gap between students who have a lot of photography experience and students who are using their camera for the first time.

I made a video during the "mosaic" camp where we created mosaic boxes, bean mosaics, and rock mosaics.

The major differences between the older and younger kids in the art classes is the activities that interest them - the older ones seem to want to learn more about technique and how to do things, while the younger ones prefer things that are very tactile and are much less concerned about technical things. We also have to plan a lot of activities because they move through things really quickly, while also making sure to give the extra time to the kids who get really into a specific activity.

I have a lot less experience working with younger children so it's been really fun to learn more about them and how to teach them!

Thursday, July 28, 2016


A couple weeks ago Michele waited for me outside of her studio and when I got there we walked down the street to the building next to hers. We walked inside and Michele explained that we were going to a studio visit with Rita Smith.  A studio visit is simply visiting an artist in their studio or workspace that may, but doesn't have to be, for purchasing art. We were visiting because Michele hadn't met Rita before and Michele is starting a new business for people to come to her for artist statement advice and guidance. So Michele was talking about that with her and Rita mentioned that she had recently gotten an iPad Pro, which I also have. Rita thought it would be a good idea for me to come back and teach her some stuff about the iPad and help her with building her website. After we finished with all the things we needed to do she decided that I could intern for her for a little bit and see if it would be beneficial to have me around. She ran the idea by me and I couldn't see why not! So next week I'll be starting my internship with Rita Smith and I'm really excited.

Difficult Situation?!?

The Summer Fellows experience I had with Michele Kishita was the farthest thing from difficult. BUT the only time that was rough was when it was 94 degrees and humid. I was sitting on the floor with a hot glue gun and hundreds of wooden sticks. I was in charge of putting together bundles of 5 sticks in a certain orientation over and over again. It was for an installation that Michele was asked to do from URBN headquarters. The space she has to use is 10 ft by 72 ft so the final piece is massive and she calculated that we would have to make 800 bundles. I put together about 100 so far. So it was really hot and I was sweating like crazy and it sucked. But it was just a learning experience that some buildings that you may get a studio in wont have everything that you expect. Michele's studio building had a really old freight elevator and everything is kind of old and you can tell. But that brings you into what kind of artist you might be and if you need a really clean workspace then you might have a harder time finding the studio that is "suited for you". ME? I don't give a $#!% as long as I have light and I have AC because working in a hot ass room SUUUUUUCKS.

Proffesional and long term goals

The summer fellows program helped clarify some of the goals that I have in a couple different ways. I realized that I want my own personal studio (not connected to the university) much sooner than I had realized. I have realized that it's one thing to be able to acquire a studio but also being able to keep up with it and pay rent and other studio related expenses. I know that I need to start applying to get my work into galleries but realize that I still need to continue to explore different possibilities of art. I want all of these "grown up artist" things but I still have a lot of learning to do. So I guess I'll set that as another goal; Learn as much as possible. In the far future I think it might be a good idea to consider opening a gallery of my own. I would love to be able to showcase other emerging artists work and help them get off the ground. Below is pictures of Michele's first painting on a canvas since she's started making her work on wood panels.


On April 1st, Michele had her opening reception for her solo show called "Chromarrhythmia" at Central Tattoo Studio. She had invited me to come and see the work and meet some people. As I walked in there was a very long piece on my right and there were bigger pieces hanging on the wall parallel to the long piece. The gallery was very well lit and you could see every little detail of the wood grain especially on each of her pieces. By the time I got there, there had only been a handful of people that came but as the night went on I started meeting more and more artists that had work hung in other galleries for first Friday. Eventually a lot of students from UARTS showed up and it looked like class had just begun because Michele is also a teacher. It was pretty funny but it was cool seeing the gallery full of faces and people reacting to all of my mentors work. This experience made it really exciting for me to look forward to the future. One day I will have a solo show that will have a gallery full of people reacting to MY work. I learned, at this show in particular, that sometimes a gallery reception doesn't have to be all uptight and strict. There were some very loud conversations going on and people were just having fun. The art world is scary but it's still fun.

My name is Zachery Young. I am a student at the University of the Arts majoring in sculpture. I will be working under Michele Kishita. She is an alumni of the University of the Arts and works professionally as a professor there but also as a proffesional artist. I will be helping Michele with putting up and taking down shows as well as helping her with day to day studio goals that she sets to achieve.

Prior to this summer fellows opportunity; Michele had asked me to come into her studio to help her prepare some panels before she's able to paint on them. So I brought my friend Gina Sylvester with me and we came and applied gac to 12 of her panels. We were instructed to gac the panels and then use sand paper on them and repeat. We had to use our sense of touch to feel the texture of the panels until there was no readable texture on them. The reason why Michele uses gac on her panels is to emphasize and enhance the wood grain within the work. The gac causes the grain to be more pronounced and "shinier". We have to sand down the gac once it's applied because it leaves an almost grainy feeling on the surface. This is a problem because Michele uses tape to create her images and if the tape is not flush against the surface there will be bleeding on the painting. Bleeding will just cause Michele to have to work on something that could have been avoided.

The following images are of the panels that Gina and I applied gac to.

Drawing Room

On April 2nd, Michele was a part of a group show at the Drawing Room in Connecticut. She asked me to come to meet people that would be there and talk with some of the artists present and just check out the environment. This gallery was set up as a boutique but had a separate gallery with Michele and Eliza Stamps' work hung. Eliza Stamps hung a series of pieces from a collection called "its knot over yet". Her work is just a lot of meticulous pencil drawings. Her artist statement said that the drawings represented people's paths of life and they get all caught up and "knotted up" within each other's lives. Michele's work is very bright and vibrant and geometric. They contrasted each other's work very well and I thought it was an excellent choice to hang their work together.

How the internship shaped me

How do you plan to take what you are learning and observing back to UArts, or into your post-undergraduate life?

I knew that working at Smith Memorial Playground would be a good experience for me.  I have a lot of experience working with kids. I don't plan on working with children in the future. But I knew that the knowledge I gained could be a great asset for the internship.

I immediately felt welcome among the employees, managers and directors who worked for Smith. They made sure I was "christened" in, which meant sliding down their huge slide. 

The small little ecosystem of Smith filled me with an eagerness to attend work. I felt a connection to the community of Philadelphia. The playground does such amazing things for families of all incomes. I was a part of a group whose main goal was education and fun. While I walked around snapping photos of families, I couldn't help but feel part of something bigger.

It wasn't until this year that I knew I wanted to help those who surrounded me. The Playground internship gave me a taste of what that was actually like. I officially plan to work for a non-profit once I graduate due to this organization. 

Smith taught me the following things: 

-working at a computer in an office is not hellish for me. 
-spending time interacting with others is incredibly important to my work ethic 
-being involved directly with the community is tough (sometimes irritating) but rewarding 
-even though I don't want to work with kids, they are truly amazing to be around 
- working for a nonprofit may just be my path in life 

In fact, not soon after my internship ended I traveled to Nairobi, Kenya. I am currently here working for a NGO called Art & Abolition. Smith gave me the foundation for working in organizations. But it also showed me that I want to work in the US to help those I live around. 

I miss those I worked with and plan to visit for their next kid's concert. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Painting Demo (Post #7)

 A few times throughout the fellowship with Neal, he so kindly did a painting demo for me. Allowing me the first-hand experience of witnessing his process of painting from choosing his reference photo to the end product of framing the painting. I have admired Neal’s work from the moment I found out he would be my mentor and was so honored to have had time to see him paint and also document his process for possible future reference.

As a painter myself, I always find people’s process of painting almost more interesting than the painting itself. Most people don’t realize, but artists don’t usually just start painting right away, rather there are several stages the artist takes (that differentiate with each artist) and through this process comes out a “finished” piece (I put finished in quotations, because is a painting ever really finished?) I have always felt that the process and the early stages of the painting really say a lot about the artist and can help the artist understand more about the painting and themselves.

I have up until this point normally work with watercolor paint (though I plan on starting oils very soon) and seeing Neal paint with oils was a very interesting and enlightening learning experience.

Neal is a plein air painter, so normally he would paint outside in open air, which he does at his many competitions. However for the demo, he painted from a reference photo in his studio. Neal also usually starts his painting with a quick preliminary sketch playing with different layouts and possibilities for the final painting (Neal was in the illustration program at UArts originally.) As he makes his way to the panel (which was oh so beautifully made by myself J ) he makes an under painting, this is where the artist paints a thin, light layer of paint so they’re not painting upon the plain panel or canvas. Form the under painting, he basically draws what he sees in the picture. This is the very early stage where you can make mistakes and still easily change them. Neal would wipe out whatever drawing he did when he didn’t think it was matching the reference picture. As he continued, he started to add larger blocks of color, starting from the background of the painting to the foreground. It was interesting to watch him paint, and he would just continue to add more color and refine the painting more.

I am a very visual person, and so watching Neal paint was very helpful for myself to see what he did and how the painting turned out through each stage. I was also blown away by how fast he finished the entire painting. From start to finish, this painting probably took him about 2 hours. Attached below are photos from each stage of his painting.

Clarifying long-term Professional/Personal Goals (Post #6)

 Going into the fellowship I definitely had an idea of the goals I wanted to achieve both professionally and personally as I begin my artistic career. However with the experience I have had with this fellowship, I have added new goals and gained more clarity on how exactly I want to pursue these goals in order to receive the greatest benefit. 

Professionally, I definitely want my own studio; a space where I can just creatively go free, try out different methods and techniques, and allow myself to discover new aspects of myself in regards to myself as an artist and creator. With working alongside Neal, I have gotten to see how he as an artist runs his studio and how he keeps it. My first impression of his studio on my first day was a bit overwhelming, it seemed like there were thousands of paintings and papers everywhere with no organization. Though the more I worked with him, I noticed that he knows where everything is and where it belongs, I found that particularly interesting. Though I think I still would want my studio to have more organization, as a very cluttered room is not as conducive for my artistic process. From the contrast of his studio, I also can now better understand that different processes work better for different people, and I think that can apply to anything in life far beyond studios.

I’ve also wanted to be a self-sufficient artist, running the majority of my time and business by myself, as opposed to be working in a company. Though I would also enjoy working alongside other artists, possibly having my own smaller company (I literally jus thought of that as writing this so hey.) I also wish to expand my connections with other artists and be a part of something greater you could say. Working with Neal I’ve seen how an individual artist can achieve all of these goals. Neal is a part of many plein air painting competitions, on the board of a particular organization (currently forgot the name but will get back to you on that), and is well known in the plein air community. These are all wonderful ways to meet and gain connections to artists relevant to you.

I would never have described myself as a clean/organized person until this year. I’ve always personally wanted to become more organized and have a clearer idea of what needs to get done. From my experience in this fellowship, I have sharpened my ability to more efficiently schedule my time (personally and with my artistic endeavors.)

Attached is a picture of my workspace within Neal’s studio and where I do most of my projects.

Job and Work/Environment Preferences (Post #5)

As I have completed the bulk of my fellowship and time with Neal, I feel that I have had a thorough amount of experience to comment on my preferences for the job/work environment and pinpoint areas for improvement. I’ve listed the most significant aspects of the fellowship environment which I could change/ appreciated and will bring along with me in my future artistic career.

1.) Working with others- At the fellowship, it is just Neal and myself, both working on our individual projects, but still always checking up on each other/ continuous conversation throughout the day. Though I do very much enjoy spending time and working alongside Neal, if I were in his shoes and spent most of my time in my studio by myself I would go slightly insane. That being said, I totally understand that artists need a space for themselves and their ideas to develop, as I almost always work alone. But I think its important that we can also come together as artists in a way that creates a sense of community, and I think that can enhance one’s own artwork.

2.) Location of Studio – Neal’s studio is located in an older wood mill that has now been converted into other office spaces. Though I believe this location works out perfectly for Neal, since it is also in his hometown, I would prefer to be in a different type of building as well as the city. I do like how there are other people in the building working, but I rarely interact with any of them. I also would prefer to work in a more urban location, or in an area that is close proximity to a more populated area.

3.) AIR CONDITIONED STUDIO- Since the building is older, there is no air conditioning. Neal has a couple fans in his studio, which works, BUT I NEED AIR CONDITIONING. This is VERY IMPORTANT.

4.) Commute- I drive about 2-2.5 hours one way to get to my fellowship. Though it’s a nice time with myself, maybe listen to some books on disk, IT IS WAY TOO LONG A COMMUTE. I spend almost 5 hours a day just driving to and from the fellowship. Luckily for me I don’t have the fellowship everyday, but I would still not wish this kind of commute on the worst of my enemies.

 Attached are some photos of Neal’s studio, enjoy!

Taking what I’ve learned into the “Real World” (Post #4)

As I mentioned in my last post, I have not only learned a lot of Neal’s literal creative process, but also how he manages his business (because even though he is a painter, he is most definitely his own manager and businessman.) I have witnessed that his final creative product is a beautifully produced painting. But I have also had the contrast of being been up close and personal with all the work that goes into making that painting possible. Such as the physical creating of the panels and canvases he paints on, his constant communication with clients/galleries, his planning and traveling for various painting competitions across the country which he is involved in, different painting organizations he’s on the board for, etc (the list could go on.) My point is to emphasize how much other types work Neal has to put in that is “un-art related” but yet directly impacts every aspect of his artistic career.

As I have continued to work with Neal, I have thought of ideas where I can bring this skill set back to school with me and beyond. However I had the wonderful opportunity to have the experience where I could practice this before I head back to school.

About a week ago, I was blessed to be a part of a wonderful collaborative showcase in Philadelphia held by the organization RAW: natural born artists. I was notified mid June that I would be involved in the showcase, and a midst my excitement I was unaware of how much work that I would have to put into this show. Though my showcase is technically unrelated of my summer fellowship, I found that the experiences I had with Neal and what I learned really helped me in order to organize myself and do everything I had to literally prep for the showcase.

Some examples of where my fellowship really came in handy include my heightening organizational skills and making many, many to-do lists (It has helped that I would make many lists during my fellowship to track my progress and what tasks I need to still get done), understanding the finances and creating budget systems and ALWAYS keep your receipts (working with Neal’s inventory and invoices for frames/canvas, I was more easily able to go about how to strategizing my needed items and prices vs. quality), sizing and making the mattes for my work (working with frames and panels most of the time with Neal, I had more clarity what kinds of materials would be best and even how to matte something in general.) These were just a few of the main things that I picked up from my fellowship that ironically were unrelated, but yet still used in an artistic environment that many of us as young artists will experience with the growth of our career.

I am very thankful for all the experiences I had with my summer fellowship and also for the application of my skills to the an actual event that has helped me learn more about my professional goals and how I would create it in the future.

Attached are some photos from the showcase as well as the link to the organization if anyone is interested in getting involved! It was a lot of fun!


Monday, July 25, 2016

Internship Interview Part 2

Since I had two bosses working at Smith Memorial Playground, I decided to interview them boss. Cheryl Carson works as the Executive Director and attend Uarts as a dance major. Both my bosses were always busy and swept me up in the nonstop world of working at a nonprofit.

What was your first experience with art? “I started dancing when I was four. It was a ballet, tap, jazz combination class for kids.”

How/Why did you attend Uarts? “When I was in high school, I did a summer program there. I was a junior in highschool and for a month I was in Philly. I liked the school and the city. And I learned Uarts was one of the only schools in the country that provided Jazz dance as a major.” 

Is there anything you would do differently in your career? “I think I wish that I had more a performance career. I did a lot of stuff in Philly independently with smaller dance companies. I always thought I would dance on Broadway or do bigger stuff. It isn’t a regret but I do wonder what it would have been like to be on Broadway doing 8 shows a week. That type of thing.” 

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned working at Smith? “I would say everything working in this area. The playground aspect, working with kids, civic engagement is a new territory for me. I’m used to working in Arts and Culture.” 

Have you had any mentors/anyone who has impacted you? “Yeah, my first real job out of college was working part time for an arts education organization. It was a small nonprofit of just me working with the director. I learned a lot of things about nonprofits working there. Her name is Linda Fiore and she works currently at Temple.” 

Any advice for me personally? “I think you’re doing a really good job. Try a lot of different things, that is one of the benefits of being in school. You can see a lot of things and try a lot of things. Even if you hate something you’re still learning. You can’t form an opinion until you really see it. Don’t burn bridges, in career I have worked with two of my professors from Uarts. I wouldn’t have thought in was a reality originally. I worked hard and was attentive but when I went to work for them they remembered that. Put your best foot forward cause you don’t know what’s gonna come down the pike. 

What was your journey from Uarts to Smith? “Bouncing around different organizations. And trying to improve myself at each organization. And taking skills from each job to the next. There is a lot of turnover. I wanted to find a place that I can hang out for awhile and not bounce around too much. Now that I have children it has opened a new door for me. I can always support arts and culture in other ways other than working for it. It’s always gonna be apart of my life.” 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Board Meeting (Post #7)

Last night, I attended my first board meeting for Eryc Taylor Dance. The board only meets once every few months, so this was the only board meeting I could be present at. I'm glad that it fell during my internship, because it was definitely essential to understanding more about this company, other dance companies, and nonprofits in general.

In order to maintain status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, it is important to have a board of directors. I'm not entirely well-versed on the process of applying for nonprofit status (as that was completed ten years ago with this particular company), but it is my understanding that there must be at least one director in order to do this, and that person is separate from the founder of the organization. I would like to learn more about that process sometime in the future.

The board of directors serves to oversee the operations and finances of the nonprofit. Our board members also contribute financially to our organization, and some grant applications require proof of that in order to apply. Many grant applications also require a list of the board members and their respective titles.

It was interesting to see how the board meetings operate, because prior to this I had only met one of the three members in real life, and the rest I had just communicated with over the phone and email. Our company manager prepared a board agenda to review, and as part of that I presented a list of all the responsibilities and tasks I've accomplished during my internship. It was satisfying to have the chance to formally acknowledge all the work that I've done over the past ten weeks.

Internship Interview Part I

I decided to split this post into segments because I interviewed both of my bosses. From each woman I learned so much and am insanely grateful for this opportunity. Not all the responses are perfectly word for word but I did my best.

To update any reader, I was previously interning at Smith Memorial Playground in Fairmount Park. The internship entailed me working as part of their promotion team for their three summer music kid festivals.

The first interview was with Zoe Hillengas,  Communications Manager.
What was your first experience with art? "First thing I ever did as a child at two or one years old, was draw. Before I knew how to write, spell, etc. I was drawing."

What things would you change differently in your career? “I’m happy with the path I have been on. I think you can learn anywhere you are. I think what I need to work on now is taking more risks. I am a creative person, eventually I want to be self employed. I am happy with the skill building I have been doing. But I think what’s next is those extra strides to take in that direction.”

What's the biggest thing you've learned working at Smith Memorial so far? “I’m getting good management experience, with you and Liz (fellow intern from Drexel). Managing a large workload, and how to multitask at a larger level than ever before.”

Have you had any mentors shape you into the person you are today? “I can’t name just one. I have had a series of mentors from all walks of life. Artistic mentors, music teachers, families, etc. Especially through the artistic lens, such as when you’re learning a craft. It is a great opportunity for mentorship. People who work here at Smith too (are also mentors), definitely my colleagues. It is a small staff and we support one another.” 

Since you didn't go to University of the Arts, where did you go? "Berkelee college of music, contemporary writing and production. 

What advice do you have for me? “I encourage you to try as many things as possible. If you are in the space of wanting to try a lot of things a nonprofit is a good idea. There is often a small staff, and you can get your feet wet in a lot of different areas. Don’t be afraid to try different things! If things don’t work out and you fail helps in the learning process too. Put yourself out there and make yourself uncomfortable.”  

How did you get from college to here? “When I was in school I went into school thinking I was going to take the performance track. When I graduated I was working behind the scenes in the performance arts. I got out of school and worked in arts administration as a teacher. I liked teaching, but I felt others were more passionate about those areas. So I focused on administrative work, from there I found out I was really good at creative marketing. Developing content, communications and some PR work. When I figured that out I began to look for jobs in those areas. There were periods that I was working four part time jobs. And times when they all fell off and I was unemployed. But eventually I found jobs in those areas such as  for parks and rec, education and then I came to Smith.” 

What's the biggest lesson you've learned from working at Smith? “It ties into management experience and supervising other people. But what it boils down to is knowing how to communicate to other people how to help me, it allows me to focus on the big picture, what I’m good at, and what I enjoy.” 

Other advice I quickly jointed down from that day: 6 months before you graduate (winter): start setting up meetings, job applications with the dates of when you graduate, alum office so you can contact the alum in your area, informal: graduating soon, ask for an opportunity. Set up a plan. Start running the numbers the winter before, call the loan company, etc. 

Call the loan company now, get concrete numbers together. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Informal Interview : Marisha Simons

1. Tell us a little about your brand and the products you create 

I create cheerful and colorful hand printed home goods: kitchen linens, tea towels, napkins. I like making a useful thing that can brighten the users day.

2. When did you discover your love for art? 

I don't know if I remember; creativity has been a staple since I was a tiny kid. My mom is incredibly creative, always making something, a real Jane-Of-All-Trades. My grandma taught me how to crochet when I was 7, and I have these really funny little books my mom saved for me that I wrote an illustrated when I was five. It took me  a really long time to appreciate my own talent and skills because I grew up a crafter. But when I discovered that Printmaking was magic in undergrad, I was hooked!

3. Who inspires you?

Nature inspires me, and people who make art that references nature. Sometimes I see things that are growing and I just get a little shiver, its so beautiful, or complex and interesting. I have about a thousand pictures that I take when I go hiking of plants and trees. When someone can capture some of that complexity in their work, it really gets me going.

4. What have you discovered about yourself through your creative process?

When I am really inspired and the project is moving along, I cannot be stopped. I could work on it until I drop. But when I am stuck, I am not the hard-core gritty person that I would like to believe I am, and I get easily derailed. Getting back on track can be so hard, but when I eventually do it, I feel like I can do anything and all the obstacles no longer exist.

5. Why did you choose Uarts?

I was really enamored of enhancing my skills in the Book Arts, but when I as immersed in the program, I realized that I really was a printmaker and that I wanted to make large scale art that many people could appreciate and experience in a more architectural setting. I have set that work aside for  the moment, as large scale installation work is difficult to make financially sustainable.

6. When did you discover your love of printmaking and why?

I took my first college painting class my first semester in college and had a horrible teacher who would make emphatic qualitative remarks about the students' work without any actual clear directives on how to improve the work. In retrospect,  I have realized that he was a horrible teacher and that many of my insecurities about my image making skills for the following few years came from that class. It wasn't until I took a printmaking class in the beginning of senior year that I really felt comfortable and excited in a medium.It just felt really natural: I loved the fact that there is a little bit of chance in making prints and that sometimes those errant marks add a level of interest that lacks, for me, in other mediums.

7. What advice would you give to the aspiring printmaker or designer looking for opportunities to grow in the art world?

Explore numerous options and endeavors that are both close to what you think you want to do and ones that are different. Exposure to a number of different things will give you a clearer sense of the path you want to follow.

8. What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

Stick with it! Whatever you are doing, see it through for at least 6 years, doing it with the greatest commitment that you can. It takes time for creative endeavors to bear fruit. Many of the small business ideas I tried failed only because I didn't keep at them long enough. 

 MARKETING, NETWORKING, BUSINESS! Sustaining oneself creatively is more than just making cool, interesting objects, it is imperative that a young artist know how the money part of life works. Taking accounting classes for artists (maybe learn it so well, you can do it for others!), any classes that will give you knowledge about how to handle your financial life. Look for programs that help young artists: grants ( good strong grant writing is a must), grad programs that pay your tuition, rather than you paying them.

Be wary of "opportunities"; make sure that they are a true benefit to your career, and not just someone else's. It is OK , to say "let me think that over", before you accept so that you have a quiet moment to evaluate if this will help you. Just the idea that people will see your work is not enough. Yes, people will see your work, decorating, for free, someone else's business. Often people do not know or understand that work that is on the wall at a cafe or bar is available for purchase. they will often think it is work that has been purchased by the proprietor as decoration. Even if there is a small sign and business cards, that means that your potential patron has to follow up later, which can be unreliable. Do craft shows with a proven reputations for bringing in  crowds who are ready to shop. Remember that craft show organizers (though, yes, it is hard work), make money from your booth fee whether you do well at the sale or not, unless it is a sale where the organizer takes a commission.

9. What is most important to you, as an artist?

Creating work that makes me feel happy, but also, as I have grown older, I realize that  I want my audience to appreciate the art as work and are willing to support that. I am passionate about what I do, but I want it to be more than just my "expensive hobby". Being a "professional artist" means I should be able to make a life and a living from the work I do.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Menu design

The coffeeshop downstairs has a great seasonal vegetarian menu that I've spent most of the summer sampling. I was able to take on my first big graphic design project and create a trifold menu for print! I don't have any graphic design training so this was more difficult to take on without a lot of direction - the menu has been through a few drafts so far and we've had input from a former member of the Kimmel Center's marketing team about its design. At first, I was trying to make the menu look like an art piece because that's my background, but we decided to simplify it and have the information be the first thing that you look at instead of the visuals.

Here is the first draft of the menu that we decided was too busy and hard to read:

And here is the simplified version that is less heavy on the visuals and more heavy on the information:

This was definitely a learning experience for me and I'm glad that we were able to keep the same basic idea of a hand-drawn look that reflects the culture and artistic community of the shop, while also making the menu functional and legible.

Preparing for summer camp

During June, we spent most of the month promoting the summer program and preparing for the camp to begin. Each week, there are two different morning sessions and two different afternoon sessions that the kids can take to learn about different kinds of art. I made some promotional images for some of these sessions -

One of my favorite parts about this experience has been learning how to be resourceful and use what I have available to make images. The pictures required having a plan and I had to stage the scenes using only what was in the center and try to figure out the best way to use objects to tell the story of the classes.

I've also used some of these skills on job applications in the last few months - each picture and video gets scheduled for a Facebook post with the goal of posting something every day. This has given me experience managing social media accounts and planning posts ahead of time. Some of these posts also get boosted to reach an audience beyond just people who like the Eilandarts page. We used these scheduled posts to show the variety of summer classes that kids could take, because there really is one to suit every interest! Now that I've been applying for social media jobs, and I can say that I have experience managing professional accounts, creating a posting schedule, and creating content myself for those posts.

Promoting local artists

Downstairs in the coffeeshop area, there is a display that promotes the products of local artists and designers - there's handmade books, soap, buttons, tea, small wood and ceramic goods - all made by artists from the community.

One of my tasks has been to take photos of these products to promote them on social media.

These are some photographs of the handmade leather bracelets, using all natural light and materials found within the building. I really enjoy these quick, on-location product shoots! I'm not much of a studio person and find it much easier to be comfortable in creative with space to move and think, and find light rather than add it myself.

I've also been lucky enough to meet some of the local artists and business owners who have some of their work in the shop. Eilandarts orders their tea from a store up the street called Spirit to Sole Connection. All their teas and other herbal remedies are homemade by the woman who owns the store.

Again, shot on location using available light - I drink these myself now and it was great to see where they actually are made, and who makes them!

I enjoy using social media to promote other artists and I really like working in a place that puts community at its center. This is something that is very important to me as a maker and something that I've always wanted to foster in my own life and work.