Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight—Meet Jodie Beechem

I hope people are inspired to look deeper than the aesthetically beautiful in order to discover the hidden gems of this weird world we’re living in.
— Jodi Beechem
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Jodie Beechem is an illustrator, designer, and student at Portland State University. Jodie specializes in illustration based projects, but can handle just about everything you throw at her! She is very involved with the Portland community and her work is often made for local bands. 

Here's what Jodie had to say about her work and process:

Tell us more about Jodie!
I’m originally from Nashville, TN but moved to Eugene, OR when I was really young. I grew up in Eugene, and then as soon as I turned 18, moved up to Portland to go to PSU. I’m currently a senior in the graphic design department there. My favorite medium to work in is pen and ink, but I also really enjoy doing digital illustrations.

How did you find the medium that best worked for you? What was that process of discovery like?
As a kid I was constantly making art and trying new mediums. I was fortunate enough to take a bunch of art classes with some incredible teachers at Maude Kerns Art Center in Eugene. While there, I was pushed to work in all sorts of mediums–watercolor, acrylic, graphite, collage, etc. At the end of the day though, I always found myself having the most fun just using pens.  

My mom is really crafty, and my dad is a crazy Einstein scientist type. I was lucky enough to get a good dose of both in my personality, and I think this is why I love working in pen & ink so much. It satisfies the part of my brain that thrives on wacky creativity, while also satisfying the part that needs everything to be perfect and precise.

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What were some of your early influences to pursue an education in the arts? Did you always want to be an artist when you were a child?
I always wanted to be an artist, but it wasn’t until I got a bit older that I realized it was an actual possibility. I work really well when I have a “purpose” if that makes any sense, so school seemed like the perfect way to push myself to learn and grow as an artist and designer. 

I’ve always been really inspired by everything morbid, creepy, and weird. It’s easy to find the beauty in flowers, but it’s more interesting to me to find beauty in the darker parts of the world. On top of that, I’ve always been a huge art history nerd; I find myself lost in the stories behind paintings, and constantly find inspiration there. It might not be a huge surprise that my two favorite paintings are The Death of Marat by Jaques Louis David and The Death of Sardanapalus by Eugène Delacroix.

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Outside of your art—what feeds your imagination and soul, and brings you joy?
Outside of my art, I love going to see live music at local venues. There are so many great bands here in Portland that inspire me. In turn, most of my friends are in bands, so I end up getting to do a lot of band tshirts, posters, album covers, etc. On nights where I’m not at a show, you’ll probably find me either at the bowling alley or an arcade playing pinball.

Our theme last quarter was “welcoming”.  As an artist, what does this mean to you?
In times like these, it’s more important to be welcoming than ever before. Art has a special ability to bring people together and it’s so amazing to be part of such an inclusive and welcoming scene. There are so many different voices that are being showcased, and I can only hope that this gets pushed even farther to highlight more and more people from all different walks of life. 

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How do you hope your personal expression will reach others, through your art?
I hope people are inspired to look deeper than the aesthetically beautiful in order to discover the hidden gems of this weird world we’re living in. 

To see more of Jodie's work, visit her website at www.jodiebeechem.com
IG: @jodiebeechem

 

Student Spotlight - Meet Elana Gabrielle

There are times when I am filled with inspiration and motivation and I can’t create things fast enough.

WeMake loves to showcase and support the future of the arts in our Student Spotlight Series. I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to Elana Gabrielle, an illustrator and maker at PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art). Her work is inspired by the natural world around her, often full of overgrown foliage and magical creatures.

She aims to combine educational, whimsical, and conceptual imagery to create fun and accessible illustrations, which can live in books, in print and on products. Elana works to emulate these themes utilizing a variety of mediums including traditional drawing, gouache, collage, printmaking, and digital programs. She currently resides in Portland, Oregon, and can most often be found wandering in bookstores, or adding to her house plant collection.


Tell us all about Elana! 

I grew up on a foggy hill in San Francisco. I spent the winter months roaming the old growth forests along the coast and exploring the city. My summers were spent floating down the Yuba River and hiking in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Although I went to an arts-based high school and I loved every one of my art classes, it was not until my second year of college in Southern California that I realized I wanted to pursue an art education and career. I transferred to PNCA in Portland, Oregon, where I currently live and work. All of the places I have lived, traveled to and explored have found their way into my art, and I find myself recalling these places as a constant source of inspiration for me.
 

How did you find the medium that best worked for you? What was that process of discovery like?

Growing up, I tried many different tools, from weaving to woodworking. Having the opportunity to experiment was helpful in learning what drew me in. When I started art school, I primarily used gouache paint and colored pencils for my illustrations, but through taking different classes I was able play with more tools and add them my current process. Learning to use Photoshop was a breakthrough discovery for me – it gave me so much more confidence in my own work. I was able to change colors, manipulate shapes and move compositions around in ways that I could not do before. It helped me step away from being too precious with my work, giving me the freedom to let loose and allowed me the opportunity to play. I currently use a mixture of Photoshop and colored pencil for most of my illustrations. However I sometimes catch myself becoming too reliant on Photoshop. I set up small projects for myself where I only work with analog materials. Screen printing has also become a big part of my process, especially for printing on textiles. Im currently working on a little project on my Instagram – I post a weekly composition that is purely analog play- with shapes, materials, textures, and colors under the hashtag #playwithnature.

What were some of your early influences to pursue an education in the arts? Did you always want to be an artist when you were a child?

I come from a family of artists- dancers, musicians, quilters, painters, and sculptors. As part of the curriculum of my elementary and middle school I learned knitting, basketry, ceramics, drawing, painting, woodworking and metal smithing. Instead of using textbooks, we learned our lessons and then created our own textbookscomplete with essays, stories, and illustrations, and this process contributed directly to my love of childrens book illustration. When I was first applying to college I was certain that I did not want to go to an art school, but when I got to the university I found myself bargaining with my professors to make books and art projects instead of final papers. After two years it became absolutely clear to me that I wanted to pursue an education in the arts.


Outside of your art—what feeds your imagination and soul and brings you joy?

Being outside and in nature feeds my imagination and soul! Exploring the woods reminds me of my childhood, and I find so much joy and inspiration in discovering new and different landscapes. There is so much magic and unexpected treasures, and I always find something new. Did you know that there are more life forms in a handful of soil than there are people on the planet? The more I learn about the earth and its ecosystems the more I am enamoured with it all.


"Perseverance" has been a theme we are exploring here at WeMake. As an artist, what does this mean to you?

Several words come to mind when I think about perseverance –dedication, commitment, determination, endurance, stick-to-itiveness, and spunk. I have learned that in both my life and art practice there is always an ebb and flow. There are times when I am filled with inspiration and motivation and I cant create things fast enough. There are also times when there is a lull, it is hard to find motivation and I feel unproductive and slow. For me, perseverance has been the reminder that these slower times are actually helpful, a reminder to rest and that soon it will shift back again.

How do you hope your personal expression will reach others, through your art?

For my senior thesis at PNCA, I am working on a collection of goods for kids structured around the theme of endangered species. I want to explore ways that I can use illustration as a form of environmental advocacy and as a way to visually portray the intricate relationships between people and the earth. This project is about sharing, collaborating, exploring, and learning. I am currently on the hunt for local vendors to collaborate with to produce these goods. Once I do I hope that through craft and product design I can help raise awareness of endangered species and encourage stewardship of the land through interactive play.

To see more of Elana's work, visit her website at www.elanagabrielle.com
IG: @elanagabrielle

Student Spotlight - Meet Clara Dudley

WeMake loves to showcase and support the future of the arts in our Student Spotlight Series. I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to Clara Dudley, an imaginative designer at PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art) with a love for color, screen printing and her pet boas. Clara's not afraid to get wild with her whimsical characters and it's impossible not to smile while in their company.

Clara! Put the snake down and tell us about yourself.
I'm from SE Portland and also currently live in SW Portland with my three pet snakes. My favorites medium is silkscreen. I love the look and feel of it, and how it is both hand made and mass-produced. Most of my screen prints were designed in Adobe Illustrator. I also love designing posters, logos and motifs in Adobe Illustrator.

How did you find the medium that best worked for you? What was that process of discovery like?
I took a screen printing class on a whim and fell in love with the process. In the beginning I made my silkscreen stencils out of rubylith or tinted mylar, but didn't like that I couldn't micromanage certain things. Then I started making stencils in Adobe Illustrator, which gave me the freedom to knit-pick as much as I wanted. It's a really nice blend of illustration and printmaking.

 Tiger and Python - three color silkscreen

Tiger and Python - three color silkscreen

What were some of your early influences to pursue an education in the arts? Did you always want to be an artist when you were a child?
One of my first influences was cartoons. I grew up knowing that animators made a lot of money, and therefore a career in either art or design could be a practical option for me. I was really bad at most of my classes in high school, but really liked art. I was hesitant to pursue a career in illustration at first, but ultimately made the right choice.

Outside of your art—what feeds your imagination and soul, and brings you joy?
i love to go antiquing! Objects from another time or place bring me a lot of inspiration. Curating my collection of knickknacks brings me a lot of joy. I also love biology! I love learning about animals and spending time with my snakes. I have two Kenyan sand boas (Boo and Pearl) and an Arabian sand boa (Moby).

 Pompadour - Digital

Pompadour - Digital

One of our themes for this year is "perseverance". As an artist, what does this mean to you?
I always aim to create an image that lasts in the viewer's mind. An image that "perseveres" despite all the other visual stimuli the viewer sees.

How do you hope your personal expression will reach others, through your art?
My work is about playfulness and having fun. I want my art to make people feel good!

Great to meet you Clara! We wish you all the best!

To see more of Clara's work, visit her website at www.clarawdudley.com.
IG: @sClaramonstera

Student Spotlight - Meet Dana Parker

As an artist or a creative, you probably feel the need to address the tragic absurdity of our current political climate. I think it’s okay for an artist’s work to be light hearted too.
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Dana Parker attends the School of Art & Design at Portland State University. As a multidisciplinary designer, she is drawn to branding, page design and illustration (with a weakness for coconut La Croix, air hockey and truffle salt). Dana is inspired by different ways of making and enjoys working with typography and color. I recently caught up with Dana to learn more about her journey as a maker. (Confession. She had me at air hockey.)

Here’s what she had to say…

I am a senior doing a post-bacc in Graphic Design at PSU. I was born in the Midwest and raised in the Northwest. I am inspired by different ways of making, and these methods inform my work as a multidisciplinary designer.  More specifically, I am drawn to branding, page design, and illustration. Regardless of the project, I like to work with typography and color. Other things I like: crosswords, air hockey, truffle salt, the smell of old books, coconut La Croix.

How did you find the medium that best worked for you? What was that process of discovery like?

I began my education as a fine arts major, but didn’t feel like it was quite right for me. I decided to pursue my interest in literature and considered a career in academia. I graduated with a degree in English and a minor in Art History from the University of Oregon. It wasn’t until I started working at an art gallery that I discovered graphic design.

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What were some of your early influences to pursue an education in the arts? Did you always want to be an artist when you were a child?

I have always been drawn to visual art, and as a child I was fascinated by the Impressionists. It had to do with color and the texture that inspires the desire to reach out and run your fingers across it. My crude pastel studies of Degas’ dancers could be found on my grandma’s fridge. In high school, I taught myself to draw from my dad’s old comic book collection and took every art class I could. My family is greatly made up of creative/talented people, and they were always supportive of in my interest in art.

Outside of your art—what feeds your imagination and soul, and brings you joy?

In my free time I try to keep my sketchbook active through drawing and collage. I am also a huge film nerd. I love going to the theatre and talking movies. When I have the time, I still enjoy reading, journaling, and I like to cook. I am impatiently waiting for summer to kick in so I can get back to lazing around Sauvie’s and hiking the gorge.

Our theme for this quarter is “light hearted”. As an artist, what does this mean to you?

As an artist or a creative, you probably feel the need to address the tragic absurdity of our current political climate. I think it’s okay for an artist’s work to be light hearted too. It is more than okay, it is necessary. I am reminded of an article about the Dada movement, titled, “The Rising Charm of Dada,” and the author proclaims that, “sense and nonsense need to be partners in order to mirror the absurdity of the world.” Do the heavy stuff if it strikes you and do the light-hearted stuff too. Stay weird.

How do you hope your personal expression will reach others, through your art?

I’m really into the storytelling potential of design. I feel like my work has a lot of character, and people can gain glimpses into my personality through my design. Lately, I have been dipping my toes in the great pool of coding/web development. The possibility of reaching a greater audience is an exciting aspect of working in the digital world.

I'm looking forward to seeing where Dana lands in the design world!

 

Student Spotlight – Meet Subin Yang

WeMake loves to showcase and support the future of the arts in our Student Spotlight Series. I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to Subin Yang, a colorful Digital Illustrator at PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art).

Here’s what Subin had to say about her process and journey as a Digital Illustrator.

Tell us a little about yourself. (Where are you originally from? What is your favorite medium to work in?)

I'm originally from Seoul, South Korea. I came to Portland to study illustration at PNCA. Just 2 years ago or so I was an all-out traditional illustrator and now I've almost completely switched over to digital illustration after studying at PNCA. My biggest and immediate inspiration is color so there's freedom in being able to pick the exact shade and color I want for my images when I'm illustrating digitally.

How did you find the medium that best worked for you? What was that process of discovery like?

All through my life learning how to draw, I'd always been obsessed with colors that are now in trend but not really 10 years ago. Mixture of pastels with neon and saturated colors are now pretty easy to see in design stores and clothes which make me immensely happy but I still feel like those colors are more easy to access for drawing on digital platform. I've gone through crayons, color pencils, markers, pretty much all the dry media that can produce close to the kind of colors I like and also be able to have total control over the mark making I make. One of the reasons I wanted to attend an art school was to learn how to digitally illustrate and now I've fully endorsed digital illustration precisely because of my love for being able to be expressive with colors. 

What were some of your early influences to pursue an education in the arts? Did you always want to be an artist when you were a child?

I've studied and made art since I was able to draw. A lot of it is also thanks my parents recognizing my love for art from young and letting me really pursue it though lessons, going to plenty of museums, and having art history books of my favorite artists since I was young. 

Outside of your art—what feeds your imagination and soul, and brings you joy?

Outside of art, traveling around and experiencing different cultures have been the biggest influence in my life. Thanks to my father's work, I had the opportunity to live in New Delhi, India for five years and those five years have become the most colorful part of my life. I was able to experience life outside of what I knew and learn about the rich culture and history of places far from Korea. 

I'm also now extremely fond of good food (street food, restaurant food, snacks, anything as long as it tastes good), once again lovely colors, jazzy music as well as sappy old kpop, giant stationary shops in Korea, children's books, deep sea creatures, and currently the farmers market here in Portland. 

 Our theme for this quarter is "perseverance." As an artist, what does this mean to you? 

As an artist, I feel the need to persevere every day. It's the dedication to keep on making something creative, but also to convey an idea that can better the world somehow and to communicate that message through my art to the audience. It can be something as little as making a cute imagery of a mole that can put a smile on someone's face to making a work to support the ACLU to keep continue fighting for human rights. Also in the world where artists are often mystified as people with "natural talents" who didn't have to put any time and effort into learning how to make marks, which is simply not true. I think it's important to constantly remind people and myself of the value of art and what goes into making good art. 

How do you hope your personal expression will reach others, through your art?

I hope that my personal expression can be empowering for some, funny to some, and just lovely to some people as well. I hope that at the end of the day, that my art can make people feel some sort of connection to. 

To see more of Subin's work, visit his website at subinyang.com.
IG: @subinie94