Spring 2018 April Student Feature: Sarah Tennant

Happy Wednesday everyone! We're wrapping up the semester of the student features with Junior Sarah Tennant! 


1.      Tell us about yourself! What’s your name, where are you from?

I'm Sarah Tennant, a junior in illustration hailing from Miami, FL

2.      Why illustration? What brought you to KCAI?

I love to tell stories and I love to draw; I've made up characters and stories since before I can remember! Illustration combines these two interests so it was only natural that I gravitate toward it. You could argue that animation would satisfy these interests just as well, but I'm a very methodical person so, after much consideration, I concluded illustration was the better fit for me. I'm not fast enough or committed enough to draw roughly the same thing over and over 12 times for one second of film. Illustration also felt like the most direct route to comics and character design, the areas of art I currently wish to pursue as a career.

I came to KCAI in a very roundabout way, but it was one that told me I was meant to be here and do this. I applied to many colleges, some of which were art schools (such as KCAI), some of which were liberal arts. I thought if I went to an art school, I would sacrifice liberal arts classes such as science, language, literature, and the performing arts. I also felt pushed by family and respected adults to go to a liberal arts school in order to be more well-rounded and marketable. I ended up going to Wheaton College in Norton, MA. While I loved my academic classes and professors, I felt extremely unsatisfied with their art program and thought I was headed toward a dead end. The art classes were small, geared toward fine arts, and were difficult to get into. Most of my classmates didn't seem to take art as seriously as I and my skill set as a freshman were already on par with most seniors; I didn't think I was learning the skills I needed or that I'd have a strong portfolio prepared upon graduation. I felt like my art was playing second fiddle to academics and it was depressing. My illustration professor at Wheaton told me that I belonged at an art school, and she brought illustrator Yuko Shimizu as a guest speaker for our class, where I was reminded through her speech that it's never too late to pursue a career in art. With the encouragement of friends, I applied to two art schools (one being KCAI). I knew now that art was most important to me and had to come first. Ultimately I chose KCAI because this school offered Japanese Language, a class I always wanted to take, and I knew people from my high school in KCAI's illustration department that were happy with it. I had enough credits from Wheaton to transfer directly into illustration as a sophomore, and I've been very happy here since. I'm challenged, able to focus on my art, and learn valuable skills I need for an art career alongside peers who are just as inspiring and inspired as I am.


3.      What medium do you prefer?

My preferred media are pen and ink, digital, watercolor, and markers. I like to combine digital and traditional art, too, since I like both mediums equally

4.      Favorite project thus far and why?

I'm not very good at picking favorites, so I'll just say that I enjoy the projects that give me the most leeway to draw what I want, such as my characters. When you're intrinsically motivated you have the most fun. I absolutely love that this semester is almost exclusively focused on narrative, especially comics. We had an assignment where we had to draw a comic every day. I learned whether I liked comics or not very quickly. I concluded that so long as I don't burn myself out, draw what I like, and don't get overwhelmed by the details, I really enjoy making them. I was also forced to get over my fear of drawing comics. I was always intimidated by making so many drawings on one page and having to draw things I've never drawn before. I was convinced I was too slow and paralyzed to be part of the professional comics industry. Then I procrastinated and had to draw a large number of comics in about three days. That was the end of that fear! The comics didn't look bad either.

5.      Who and or what is an inspiration for you in art making?

I draw inspiration from many different things. Movies, books, video games, and especially music. Science fiction and fantasy are huge for me too. If there is a story about the human condition somewhere, it is inspiring, as I like to focus on people and their relationships in my art. Of course, I am also very inspired by the work of fellow artists, such as Yoshitaka Amano, Becky Cloonan, Ayami Kojima, Harry Clarke, Yoji Shinkawa, Takeshi Obata, J C Leyendecker...the list goes on. 

unnamed (2).jpg

6.      Go to tool for sketching and idea making?

I tend to just grab a pencil, preferably one with colored led (like red), and start scribbling in my sketchbook. If I like the sketch and end up working on it further, I find a colored undesketch easier to remove digitally. Sakura pens are also helpful for fleshing out ideas. If I'm feeling really stiff with a pencil, I will pick up my trusty old bamboo fun tablet and try drawing on the computer, and vice versa. One of the two usually works in the end.

7.      What is your favorite go to meal?

I usually eat whatever is on hand at the moment because I'm a broke college student, but lately, I've taken to cream cheese and smoked salmon on brown sugar cinnamon toast. It makes me feel a little more sophisticated and it beats being fueled by ramen.

unnamed (1).jpg

8.      If you were not doing art, what do you think you would be studying or doing instead?

I'd probably be an actor, author or musician. Though I intend to pursue these career options in the future anyway! I always thought astrophysics and biomedical tech were cool, too, but I'm not good enough at math to even think about working in those fields seriously, so that will just remain a hobby!

9.      What other types of work interest you?

Pixel art interests me and I'd like to explore painting more. Specifically acrylic paints and gouache.

unnamed (3).jpg

Social Media: 

Tumblr: raconteurreaper.tumblr.com

Instagram: @raconteurreaper