chicago workshop summary

Two weeks ago I led a two-day editorial illustration workshop in Chicago at Columbia College. Teaching this workshop for the second time went much smoother because I learned so much teaching this same class at Squam earlier this year. I learned that I needed to offer the students some way to gather reference, that I needed to supply a wet studio for those who paint their artwork and a computer lab for those who work digitally. And that I had to tailor the class on the fly based on what the students were wanting and needing from the experience... more discussion on the logistics of editorial work? or more hands on time just working on their pieces? etc.

The kids who signed up were mostly fine art students. One illustration major. And even a few ceramists and a performance art major (they had a tough time). So it was a weird mix because I was expecting mostly illustration majors who'd had some training in the basics, but I think everyone walked away with something good from the experience... (some probably with the thought they they never wanted to do illustration again! ...deadlines? ...assignments? pshaw!).

The assignment was a small editorial piece from start to finish in two days, which is quite a task -- but doable. I supplied a story and worksheets on how to get ideas, how to talk to art directors, design tips, etc, and then they were on their own to come up with ideas.

At the end of the first day we had a thumbnail critique and a final sketch critique before anyone could start on their finals, and I thought that was the best part. Getting everyone to talk about their ideas and different directions was interesting. And I surprised myself by having LOTS of suggestions and hints for how to get a better piece in the end.

Overall, the final artwork was kind of disappointing. I think kids were working outside their normal mediums, which would make it harder I guess. Admittedly, however, I may have had really high expectations working with senior level students. :) But at least it got people thinking.

And I walked away with a clearer understanding of what I do as well. It was so fun to see and help other people with their artwork... knowing how to improve it, things to try, things to think about. And I have been applying that to my work work since I've been back. That's invaluable. So I would definitely do it again. (Also, how can you not be inspired by walking through the halls of an art school? So much eye candy!)