visiting artist

Big thanks JooHee!

This October, we were lucky enough to have super-talented JooHee Yoon join us for a day as a visiting artist to our department. 

Visiting Artist JooHee Yoon with Assistant Professor David Terrill

Visiting Artist JooHee Yoon with Assistant Professor David Terrill

Needless to say, we were all very excited to have JooHee join us for a day. Her fun, colorful, printmaking-inspired work is something that many of us have admired for some time. Her recently released books, Beastly Verse and The Tiger Who Would Be King, both published by Enchanted Lion Books, have created quite a buzz, in addition to her multifaceted editorial work.

JooHee surprised our students by giving them each a print from her recent book, Beastly Verse -- it was a bit of a stampede as students went up to claim their print! She also brought a stack of her recent picture books to sell. I think she sold every last one!

What a wonderful surprise!

What a wonderful surprise!

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At the end of the day, we all get together for a Q&A session with our visiting artist. This is a chance for the students to ask JooHee all sorts of questions. The students had a lot of great questions and JooHee provided some wonderful insight.

The Q&A discussion begins!

The Q&A discussion begins!

Every visiting artist that comes to KCAI Illustration gives our students a project. All the students within every level in the department participate and create a piece for the project; they usually have about a week to complete it. For her project, JooHee challenged the students to create an 18x24 inch travel poster to a place that could be real or imagined. As an instructor, I always love to see what the students come up with and once again, I was amazed. There were some wonderful pieces!!

The final step for our visiting artist is for them to select what they consider to be the top 25-30 solutions for the project. Out of those 25-30 pieces, they select their Top 3 solutions. The students whose work is selected as one of the Top 3 have the opportunity to go to dinner with the visiting artist! Congrats to the Top 3 picks senior Taylor Fourt, junior Ethan Tucker and sophomore Gabrielle Brandini!

Taylor Fourt

Taylor Fourt

Ethan Tucker

Ethan Tucker

Gabrielle Brandini

Gabrielle Brandini

Dinner with JooHee at Cafe Trio, Kansas City, MO. Also present  Assistant Professor David Terrill, Assistant Professor John Ferry, Instructor Hector Casanova, Instructor Kyle Strahm and Assistant Professor Maura Cluthe (taking the picture!). What a fun night!

Dinner with JooHee at Cafe Trio, Kansas City, MO. Also present Assistant Professor David Terrill, Assistant Professor John Ferry, Instructor Hector Casanova, Instructor Kyle Strahm and Assistant Professor Maura Cluthe (taking the picture!). What a fun night!

There were so many strong solutions to this project, that JooHee had a hard time narrowing it down to these final three. So, she chose 3 Honorable Mentions as well. Congrats to senior Alison Polston, senior Karolina Akimov and sophomore Max Peake! 

Alison Polston

Alison Polston

Karolina Akimov

Karolina Akimov

Max Peake

Max Peake

Thanks again, JooHee, for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by and visit with us!


Visiting Artist Fall 2014: VICTO NGAI

Every semester, the KCAI Illustration department compiles a list of artists that the students admire and are inspired by to invite to speak and present at our school. After the list of artists is put together, the students vote on the two they want to see most, and one of each of those two artists comes each semester. The visiting artist sends an assignment for all the students in the department to complete a couple weeks before they come and speak, prompting the whole department to turn out their best work in hopes of being chosen as one of the best by the visiting artist.

For this semester, our department nominated our visiting artist to be Victo Ngai. Victo Ngai is only at the beginning of her career, and is already one of the most successful young illustrators in the industry. Born in Hong Kong, she developed a love of art very early in her life, and even showed us images from when she was six in her presentation to us. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2010, which means she has only been professionally freelancing for less than five years, and has already been published by the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, IMAX, McDonalds, and so many more prestigious clients. Her lushly detailed, vibrantly colored work, with her blunt sense of humor and incredible skill had made her a favorite inspiration and role model in the Illustration department even before we officially invited her to be a visiting artist with us a week ago.

The assignment for Victo’s visit was to create a wine label for a Pinot Noir called “The Magician”. We were to make an image that would not only create a sense of wonder and mysticism but also speak to the complex to the flavours of the wine. We received the assignment a week before Victo arrived, which may seem like a lot of time, but once we all started working on our pieces it definitely didn’t seem like enough! However, by the time the due date came around we were all blown away by the amazing pieces we all managed to produce in such a short amount of time.

Students looking through all the artwork that was done for Victo's assignment

Students looking through all the artwork that was done for Victo's assignment

Once everyone had their labels done we got them all sent off to Victo and she spent a night going through and picking her 25-30 favourites that we would discuss the next day. She picked a wide variety of images. Some were very typography based, others were character based and many were a wonderful combination of the two. Normally, the visiting artist would have everything set up in such a way that they would pick their top 25 or so favourites, and then have between 3-5 that would get to go to dinner with them and the Illustration faculty at Cafe Trio, a local restaurant. But this time, Victo liked many of them so much that she was only able to narrow them down to 6 that she liked and had the students vote on their top three. Our winners this year were Kelsey Wroten, Coleman Stampley, and Kristopher Martin.

Pictured clockwise, from bottom left: Victo Ngai, Coleman Stampley, Kristopher Martin and Kelsey Wroten.

Pictured clockwise, from bottom left: Victo Ngai, Coleman Stampley, Kristopher Martin and Kelsey Wroten.

Having worked as a successful illustrator for several years now, Victo had some words of wisdom to impart to us. She stressed the importance of communication in art. An illustrator’s job is to create a visual bridge that connects the idea of the client to their audience. One way to ensure that is not to set too many boundaries for yourself when you’re just starting out, such as, “I will only paint in red and blue” or “I will only draw images of cats.” She expressed that, despite the fact that editorials are often the bread and butter of most illustrators’ careers, that we should still be open to venues that we wouldn’t often think to seek out. One instance is Tor, a sci-fi/fantasy book publisher. They seek out artists that don’t often do sci-fi/fantasy work, so that their covers don’t become clichéd and stale. Other times you might have to do imagery for an article about something that doesn’t interest you at all, like retirement funds. Regardless of the subject, you should strive to enjoy what you’re doing, because often times it will take you in a new direction or help you discover something that you might not have thought you would like. Last but not least, as a freelance artist you should always remember that YOU are working for YOURSELF. When you go to meet that art director to discuss your fancy cool new job you’re going there on equal footing. You’re working together as a partnership to visually solve a problem so it’s important to go in there with confidence in yourself and the things that you do. Don’t worry too much about it because that art director WANTS you to be there. They picked you for a reason.

It was a huge pleasure and honor to have such an accomplished, incredible artist come speak at our school, to offer us both critique on our work and wisdom she’d learned from her’s. We can’t thank Victo enough, and wish her much more success in the future!

Faculty & student dinner with Victo. Pictured clockwise, from left: Hector Casanova, Victo Ngai, Kristopher Martin, John Ferry, Kelsey Wroten, David Terrill, Maura Cluthe and Coleman Stampley. Photo by department chair Steve Mayse.

Faculty & student dinner with Victo. Pictured clockwise, from left: Hector Casanova, Victo Ngai, Kristopher Martin, John Ferry, Kelsey Wroten, David Terrill, Maura Cluthe and Coleman Stampley. Photo by department chair Steve Mayse.

And here are the three winning images...

Coleman Stampley

Coleman Stampley

Kristopher Martin

Kristopher Martin

Kelsey Wroten

Kelsey Wroten

...and the three runner-ups! Congrats to all!

Kelsey Borchering

Kelsey Borchering

Cory Montero

Cory Montero

Emily Stout

Emily Stout

Post written by Cassie Allen and Purps Percival