AIB Illustration Alumni Ryan Maguire '98 launched the GUTS Community Art Program to to engage and inspire participants to share their emotions through visual communication and narrative.
A few weeks ago the students from the Broad Rock Elementary School (RI) participated in GUTS Imagination exercises, directed by Robin Wildman.
The Broad Rock Elementary students made art and asked questions!
Why did you make this book?
GUTS was written and illustrated during my first contact period at the University of Hartford, Hartford Art School MFA in Illustration Program. GUTS is an original story about facing the feelings that live inside all of us. Acknowledging and coping with one’s emotions can be difficult for children and adults. The GUTS story helps to engage the reader to think about their feelings and the impact they have on their lives and environment. I had recieved a AIB Faculty Grant to independently publish the first edition of books. "GUTS, the story of You" is now avaible as an eBook on iTunes.
Why did you choose these feelings?
Like many people have experienced, my parents went through a divorce. As a child, it was an extremely difficult time for me to understand the emotions that I was feeling towards my parents and the impact they had on my family. Anger became a dominant emotion that was difficult to control, often leading to self abuse, negative behavior, fights, and bullying.
Inspired by my own childhood and the difficulties of controlling my emotions, I wanted to tell a story that all ages could read and associate with. GUTS is the story of a small black dot who encounters various feelings, we all share, for the first time.
Preview the Guts story here
How come the feelings and emotions look the way they do? Why did you choose to draw them that way?
The illustrations made for GUTS were inspired by Paleolithic cave paintings by primitive humans and CDB!, a children’s book written and illustrated by William Steig.
Primitive cave painting told the stories of early life on earth through mark making on cave walls. Painted with mineral pigments or scratched directly onto surface, the artists illustrated human figures, animals, and abstract signs. Through mark-making and cave painting, some of the earliest activities and thoughts of mankind are depicted.
Inspired by primitive techniques, the GUTS character illustrations were explored using ink and spit on paper. Various value structures and surface textures were achieved by drawing marks with ink and then licking my finger to rub and distort the medium, resulting in a minimal graphic aesthetic that simplifies complex human emotions into bold and unique expressions.
Why didn't you use color in the pictures?
The final illustrations capture the essence of each emotion, in black and white, creating unique characters that are open for personal interpretation and transcend across time, language, and culture.
William Steig’s book CDB! was shown in our children’s book course as a published example by program faculty Dennis Nolan. CDB! is a illustrated children’s book by Willaim Steig, published in 1968 by Simon & Schuster. Each illustration in CDB! is accompanied by a cryptic caption that uses individual letters that hint to the reader what the illustration represents. The title of the book “CDB!” thus translates to “See (CEE) The (DEE) Bee (BEE)!”
Steig’s creative decision to simplify the picture’s caption to only single letter combinations challenges the reader to use their imagination to figure out what the text and illustration were depicting. Steig’s contrast between type and image generates a unique reading experience that is entertaining and educational.
Steig’s unorthodox storytelling inspired me to write a narrative that was simple and direct in contrast to characters that were abstract and cryptic. The GUTS story challenges the reader to interpret abstract illustrations, representing core human emotions we all share and experience, and inspire the reader to imagine what their own feelings may look like.
Why is YOU the smallest character?
I wouldn't say YOU is small, but rather a symbol of strength and balance. YOU illustrates the core inside us all. No matter what life throws at us, balance is a big part of finding peace and making progress. So despite size, YOU can make the biggest impact of them all!
Thanks to the Faculty and Students of the Broad Rock Elementary School for making art and showing their GUTS: Growth, Unity, Tolerance and Strength!
"Like" the GUTS Community Art Program
Follow on Twitter: @GutsArtProgram
This year celebrates the Art Institute of Boston's centennial. A small art school who has grown with big ideas. The AIB Illustration department continues to make their marks in today's creative industry. We had a chance to ask Susan LeVan, Chair of Illustration, what's to come in the future for students and the program.
The AIB Illustration Department just celebrated their Centennial Birthday with the AIB Illustration & Animation Faculty exhibit? How was the show? How has the AIB Illustration department evolved since becoming Chair person.
The show is great just to see the range and quality of our facultys' work. The department is always evolving – just as it did under my predecessor, Robert Kaufman. Illustration is a dynamic and competitive field, and the department is constantly working to strengthen the basic skills and knowledge that will serve each student while anticipating changes in markets and student interest.
Here are a few new courses faculty have created over the last three years to serve changes in the field: Alternative Comix & the Graphic Novel; 3D Illustration; Concept Art; Surface Design Drawing; Animal Anatomy Drawing; Illustration Now (built to give first semester students a sense of the breadth and excitement of contemporary illustration.)
How would you describe the personality of AIB Illustration program? What traits make AIB Illustration a successful place for emerging artists to thrive and grow?
The personality of the department is a complex mix. We believe as artists that play and hard work are the same thing – we are disciplined and love to have fun. We value both the traditional and the new, and seek a dynamic balance of concept, skill, knowledge, passion, self-direction, communication and professionalism. We create an environment that allows students to experiment in diverse ways, to try lots of things or focus on one thing. We help students develop along the path or paths that fire them up, and to develop a voice that's authentic and strong.
The illustration industry has changed dramatically over the past decade. From editorial illustration to custom toy design, nothing is out of creative reach. The Illustrator has become visionary. How do you see the career of a Illustrator fitting into our world today?
To paraphrase my interviewer, Ryan Maguire, there is no longer a thing called "illustration" – at least as traditionally defined. Contemporary illustrators are visionaries who travel wherever their creative imagination takes them. We encourage students to follow the flame wherever it leads and to assume that everything they learn, do, see, care about will feed their work.
Are there any contemporary professionals you see working in today's markets that are redefining the role of the Illustrator?
The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston is currently showing Brazilian street artists Os Gemeos who represent one of the many kinds of work contemporary illustrators are doing http://www.icaboston.org/exhibitions/exhibit/os_gemeos/
In addition I chose the artists at Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York and asked Illustration faculty members Margi Kimball and Keith MacLelland to add some more. The list could be pretty endless as new illustration is expanding and thriving all over the world.
Lynda Barry http://www.marlysmagazine.com
Jon Contino http://joncontino.com
Kate Bingaman http://katebingamanburt.com
Ray Fenwick http://rayfenwick.ca
Peter Arkle http://www.peterarkle.com/#
Dominic McGill http://mcgill.aeroplastics.net/index.php
Rob Ryan http://www.misterrob.co.uk
Keil Johnson http://www.kieljohnson.com/kieljohnson.com/PROJECTS.html
Takashi Murakami http://www.takashimurakami.com
Clayton Brothers http://www.claytonbrothers.com
Mark Todd http://www.marktoddillustration.com
What trends do you see happening in today's illustration market? How does the AIB program respond to those market demands?
I've mentioned a few of the courses we've recently developed, and there are many exciting new ones on the way. I think it's most important for illustrators to stay awake; be aware of what's happening in and around you whether it's interior perceptions or global events; keep learning and growing. Self-direction is key: do what you love and don't accept conventional limitations. I like our Illustrators to look at South African artist William Kentridge who stubbornly resisted his conventional art training and brought together two disparate forms that he loved (drawing and film) and created something wholly unique and powerful.
AIB is moving! The new home of the AIB Illustration department will soon be in Cambridge. That is exciting news! What are some things that Illustration students can look forward to see in their new home?
Illustration has already taken advantage of our new Porter Square location. The Junior and Senior Studio courses are now held in the newly remade and amazing! space within University Hall, and this has allowed everyone in the classes a chance to claim an individual studio space. The studios are either ventilated "easel" spaces or "desktop" spaces for students working in non toxic media and/or working on laptops. The plans for the new building are even more amazing and the Illustration and Design departments will be sharing classrooms in a loft area in what was once the attic of the church – huge skylights and original wood beams are just two of the architectural features. The new building will afford students facilities that are both functional and beautiful and that will encourage new ways of working and collaborating as artists.
What advice would you give young artists who are looking to become professional illustrators in today's diverse creative markets?
Talent is the ante into the game. Every professional has ability, but what brings success is passion for what you're doing, hard work, fearlessness (aka the willingness to do what scares you), awareness, self-direction, professionalism and respect, and the secret knowledge that work and play are the same thing.
Thank you to Susan and the AIB Illustration department. We look forward to seeing the talent of AIB Illustration grow into the next hundred years! – Ryan Maguire, AIB blog editor
AIB1: What inspired you to pursue illustration as a profession?
A short answer would be that i always was drawn to fantasy and SF art, from as early as I can remember. It was the images which captivated me, and I recall staring rapt at the book covers and movies even before I could read, lost in these imaginary worlds. My mom told me I used to sit in the playpen when I was a toddler, just staring off into space. She worried that I had some kind of mental handicap, but I think I was just lost in wonder at times, that's all.
When I learned to read I had a natural inclination –why? I don't know– to visualize the things I was seeing in my head. So from my earliest days I can recall drawing scenes or characters from books and movies I enjoyed...and what i enjoyed the most were fantasy and science fiction stories, things out of the ordinary.
I wasn't encouraged to think of art –ESPECIALLY fantasy or SF art– as something I could make a living from, however, so as I grew older I followed my scientific interests and went to college to study Biology with the eventual goal of having some sort of career in the medical sciences. But then I changed my major in the second half of my junior year and graduated with a degree in art.
AIB2: All artists need an audience: How do you successfully connect with your fanbase?
Well, nowadays I have a website [currently under re-construction] and Facebook page, so that is the primary way people can find out what I'm doing. Entering shows and getting one's work out into the real world is a must also. When I started out though, over 35 years ago, there was none of that. Not that it mattered to me: I was only concerned with connecting with the authors, editors and art directors at the book companies I sought to work for. I never thought of a "fan base" as something one had to put any effort into. Rather, my feeling has always been that if one worked hard enough and strove for the highest quality, rewards and acclamation would follow in due course –– and that's how it has worked out.
AIB3: Outside the box: What do you do off the computer and outside the studio that you find improves your craft as professional illustrator?
Re: the first part of your question – Well, I don't do much artwork "on" the computer in the first place. I see it as a tool to help me get my work done, using it for everything from perspective layouts to generating color scheme ideas, etc. But I rarely use it to create works that are entirely digital.
As for "What do you do outside the studio that you find improves your craft as professional illustrator?", I'd say simply, living life and keeping myself open and exposed to new influences is a big help. It helps to mix it up with other artists once in a while, just to be aware of other possibilities and to feel challenged to better yourself. In addition, getting out of the studio and doing things – ANYTHING else – will help you by refilling your well and giving you new visual and emotional experiences to draw from in your work. I never felt more liberated than I did when i realized I'm not here to do anybody else's work but my own; that my life mission is to create the best – or rather the truest– Michael Whelan artwork I am able to do...whatever that is!
The AIB community thanks Mr.Whelan for his contributions to the creative industry and looks forward to the future worlds he illustrates that live beyond our imaginations.– Ryan Maguire, AIB blog editor
Cambridge, will be playing host to the annual Independent Comics Expo (MICE), this Saturday, September 29.
MICE includes demonstrations with professional artists, panel discussions on topics central to comics, and an exhibit of original art featuring 100 comics artists and small publishers - as well as MICE 2012 Guest of Honor, renowned cartoonist and illustrator Robert Sikoryak. Guest of Honor R. Sikoryak’s cartoons and illustrations have appeared in The New Yorker, Nickelodeon Magazine, Raw, Fortune, Esquire, GQ, among many other publications, and on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
The Expo runs from 10am to 7pm on Saturday, September 29, 2012 in Lesley’s University Hall, 1815 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA.
MICE is Boston’s only show dedicated to alternative comics, ‘zines, and web comics, and it features talented regional cartoonists, including AIB students, alumni and faculty. MICE is a great way to network and show off your passion for comic art, it is also a first-hand look into the local independent comics scene and thousands of unusual, entertaining and interesting comics, as well as the chance to meet the creators.
Come check it out, bring your friends and bring some comics! MICE is another great way to support the AIB community, at another great event hosted by AIB's Cenntenial Celebration!