Oh! The Places You'll Go!
When I returned from ICON 6 last summer, I thought I needed to play a more active role in the illustration community. I have always admired those of you who take the time to teach and volunteer in different organizations. In the fall I volunteered to join the board of ICON 7. This semester, I have started teaching at MICA (many thanks to Yuko Shimizu for recommending me to Jose Villarubia). Although I am in the honeymoon phase of teaching, I can say I find teaching to be very rewarding and it is something I wish to continue. I will wait until the end of the semester to sing the praises of my students--something I am sure the experienced teachers here can appreciate. Although my schedule has been incredibly hectic, I find myself feeling more enthusiastic and engaged in my own work.
This past week has been exceptionally busy. I went from teaching my class at MICA straight to Melanie Reim's MFA class at F.I.T. to give a lecture to a
bright and energetic group of students. A few days later I went to SCAD in Savannah, Georgia to give a lecture to the Illustration department. A big thank you to Julie Lieberman and Allan Drummond for inviting me and being such gracious hosts. I had a great time seeing the city and meeting the wonderful students there. The students were very engaged and had many thoughtful questions after. Savannah is a beautiful city, rich in history and legendary for its ghost stories. In fact, it is reported to be the most haunted place in the U.S. Thanks to Julie, I got to take a Ghost Tour of the haunted sites.
But, it seems the ghost on everyone's minds these days is the Ghost of Illustration Future. The students are worried, as they should be. So are many seasoned veterans of the business like myself. The economic recession paired with the changes in publishing have created a perfect storm of anxiety.
Friday night I attended the opening of the 53rd Annual of the Society of Illustrators Advertising and Institutional Show. It marked the 20 year anniversary of the first show I was in at the Society, and although I have been in many others in between, this show was not to be missed for the positive reinforcement the Society has brought to my career for these past twenty years. On Saturday, some of my MICA students came and met me at the Society, where Shout (Allesandro Gottardo) eloquently spoke to us about his inventive work and process. We then went to the studio of Marcos Chin who so generously shared his personal work as well as his early commercial work. My students were inspired by both illustrators, their different processes and backgrounds, as was I.
I have had my share of ups and downs in this business. I am now working my way through my third recession. If history proves correct, I'll see a few more. Yet I remain optimistic about the industry. Being surrounded by such dedicated and talented students, teachers and fellow ICON board members has helped breathe new life into what I hope is a very long career. I consider the world of illustration and the wonderful friends I have made in it to be my home. It is not a place I plan on moving from anytime soon. I ain't afraid of no ghost!