student

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 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

STUDENTS SUBMIT YOUR WORK!

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Share your work, it's good for you.

Hey there! WeMake wants to showcase your work! We are looking for submissions in any creative genre: graphic design, digital, fine arts, industrial, even music! To be considered samples of your work or a link to your website. Chosen entries will be featured on our blog, in our newsletter and in social media, including instagram, facebook, and twitter. 

Send your email to our Student Outreach coordinator Chris Murphy, chris@wemakepdx.com

See past student features here

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!

COLIN LAUREL — ILLUSTRATION & FINE ARTS, PACIFIC NORTHWEST COLLEGE OF ART

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 colinlaurel.com 
(Pro tip: you should also follow him on Instagram).