Student Spotlight — Colin Laurel

Hello Makers! So happy to bring you our latest installment of Student Spotlight, the talented Colin Laurel. You will absolutely enjoy his work, and what he has to say about his process. So, lets get to it, shall we!


I'm extremely excited for you to meet Colin Laurel, an illustrator/fine artist extraordinaire, currently studying at PNCA. He's currently in his second senior term, defending his thesis, with plans to graduate in May. 

Earlier this month, I got in touch with Colin to get some insight on his process, his passions, his work, and what he's all about. It was such a wonderful treat to hear about his development as an artist, his background and its influences, and his hopes for the future with his art. Read on and enjoy!


How did you find the medium that best worked for you? What was that process of discovery like?
I'd lend that discovery to my naivety, because when I was young and copying the images I admired, I wouldn't necessarily know of the methodologies that went into them until much later. So when I saw an old film poster with these rendered areas and flat shapes and bold text, I tried to emulate it with the limited materials I had on hand. Then I found master works where you've got these highly detailed focal points against rougher line. Now charcoal and ink are my go-to media; you can sculpt and cut into the both of them and have a good time—just get filthy, really. I nearly fainted when I was first taught that traditional and digital media could live harmoniously. In essence, it's been a long string of doing things horribly wrong and loving it: crafting a game without knowledge of code, or piecing together a book with excess staples. I still don't know printmaking nearly as well as I'd like!

What were some of your early influences to pursue an education in the arts? Did you always wanted to be an artist when you were a child?
My parents! I always had those grandiose art-related dreams as a kid, but I was lost as to how elevate that pursuit beyond a hobby. Even if commercial art isn't guaranteed to be lucrative (much to their worry), they've gradually come around as I start to cast my net to the world. I still can't convince my mother that I'm not Disney material anymore—I just went down another avenue!

Outside of your illustration work—what feeds your imagination and soul, and brings you joy?
Music, the hip-shaking kind. Video games, though when it comes to competition, joy may vary. Company, company, company. I can't express how thankful I am for my company. I'm part of a group called Sour Candy Illustration, and it's been so rewarding to be involved in a like-minded collective working together, encouraging one another, and sharing that feeling of being a sleep-deprived husk.

And recently, the outdoors. I was a bit of a recluse growing up; there's some metaphor about finding myself lurking in here. Very best selling memoir. But really, drawing onsite has been incredibly therapeutic. I try to sketch wherever I go.

[In your bio, you write:] "Expression is key, as are narrative arcs." How do you hope your personal expression and narrative will reach others, using your art and with your heart?
I hope my art sparks a moment, however brief, of radiance within the viewer, and that it lingers on the mind, and that it brings joy to your day. My thesis is rapidly becoming the subject of social outreach. And this is tangential but somewhat relevant: Blackness and queerness have not yet been prominent in my work, nor are they at the height of my agenda (not yet), but I wish to motivate people of similar backgrounds—along with everyone else—to pursue their creative practices. Making is a tool that bolsters the love of myself and the love of others.


THANK YOU Colin for taking part in our Student Spotlight. It was such a pleasure to learn more about you as an artist, as a human being, and to see the brilliant work you're creating. Best wishes on your thesis work, and continue sharing your light with others.

To see more of Colin's work, visit his website at 
(Pro tip: you should also follow him on Instagram).