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Table of Content Chapter 1 Comfort Zone, Maybe Not. Image Harvest Part-1 8 Art Market 14 Chapter 2 Play Sketchbook Project Letterpress 10 Ideas-Part 2 Bookbinding Project Laser Cutting Pattern-Urban Life Hand Lettering 48 Stop Motion Chapter 3 Play Big P for Pussy 58 Words on Wheel 60 Individual Project Chapter 4 Confused Paper Engineering

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Chapter 1 Comfort zone, Maybe not. In the first chapter is like myself before come to MICA. I hold my old believe in my art too much that I did not let myself explore as I should in graduate school. I thought by doing what I am good before, I can finish illustration fast and beautiful. Instead, I faced many barriers and restriction that I created for myself. At the end, I did not enjoy making art as I should be.


Image Harvest Part 1

Harvesting my past visual ideas was the start point of my MICA life. You have to know your past in order to grow in the future. I don’t know how true is that until I start it. I have to admit I only harvested four ideas at that time. The first is a fashion backstage stories in comic format. I am always interested in fashion illustration. Probably because trained in my BFA period every other day intense fashion model drawing made me addicted to the gesture, and the elaborate appearance of it. And at that time I just had the chance to draw at the New York fashion week, so I had handful of sketches with me. The contrast from the chaotic backstage and the super organized front stage shocks me. At the backstage I see lots undergae models who were not like those DIVA full of confidence on Vogue Magazine. They looks rather insecure, being told to do what from various people like makeup artists, cameraman, and model coordinators etcs. That is what I want to make the comic about: “ Under the Glamorous” The second idea is to make the first backstage stories into an accordion format. I think it is a better way to show the contrast between the underage models’ insecure at the backstage, and their transformation of becoming this confident professional model on the stage. I might visit this idea later. The third idea is a small zine to illustrate the everyone’s dream to pursue a life in the big city. However through their daily life in the city, it is very different from what they expected. People are doing so much various jobs on a non stop pace. They were shaped to behave the same. And the isolation from the big city made each of them into a lonely man/woman. The city is like matrix, it sucks the energy and nutrients from these newbies, and at time goes by, it tossed the empty soul/bodies out, like the ashes from burning the fuels. This is my personal feeling from living 6 years in New York. Seeing lots of friends coming and leaving, and eventually I left the city, I felt a little like the ash myself. The fourth idea is inspired from the big city zine. I felt like the previous one is illustrating a journey, thus I decided to illustrate my personal journey. It includes the four cities, Jiaxing(China), Toronto(Canada), New York(USA) and Baltimore in which I spend


most of my life there. These four cities represent different stages in my life. When I was in China, I was a kids in this rapidly developing country. I moved to Canada in high school and I always felt like an outsider due to the sudden culture shock. I came to New York when I enrolled in illustration BFA at Fashion Institute of Technology. It is the busy city that both attracted me but I never feel like I find a place to root there. That’s why I was drawing and observing people on the sidewalk. Baltimore won’t be the final destination, however it is for now. When I was young I believed in myself that I can do anything. Throughout the journey, the figure representing me is getting smaller and smaller because I gradually felt like it is life drifting me from place to place. And I execute the fourth idea into the a 20’ by 60’ long piece. The reason I decided to do this one is because I’ve done a big drawing just a few months ago in an afternoon. Because of the short deadline, I thought by choosing to do this long piece would be the easiest way to meet the deadline. I thought I won’t be able to do the others is also because I am not familiar with comic art. However I can not be more wrong than that. This piece involved many details on the building decoration, and needless to say the amount of photo references gathering, and layout design. It suppose to be a comfort drawing I thought since I was doing building for a long time, the vision in my brain would just easily flow out of my hand. The fact is that I am a total day dreamer. In the 5 days short deadline, I stayed up late past midnight. Toward the end of finishing part, drawing the building feels more like a mechanical process instead of enjoy the pleasure of making art. And once I finished the piece I start realize the importance of time management at grad school. Nothing good will happen after the Cinderella time.


Once I finished my personal journey, I felt like finished a mile stone up to the beginning of my graduate life. I was rushed to finish the piece and makes it look good. And I felt I didn’t ferment the idea better. I was so focused on the complexity and the decoration aspect of the image, but what I want to communicate was blur. What I read from the image myself was that I was lonely. But There is more than that, and the image just did not tell the complete story.





Art Market

The same story happened again in the Art Market project. I’d like to continue my travel subject in this project. I had a great time at Florence at undergraduate study taking a drawing class in the summer. Florence, Rome, and Venice, these cities themselves are art. The architecture, the market, people’s lifestyle and the humid weather made these city as living museum of the classic European life. Despite the enjoying gelato, pasta and the deep scent jasmine(the flower is all over Florence), I was drawing the city, trying to documantary every single view into my sketchbook. That’s why in the art market project I want to make handmade sketchbook with the size and type of paper I love to draw on. And a reasonable number of pages to be finished within a month. And for each city I will illustrate the cover to summarize the attraction at there. At the beginning it turned out to be a stuck project. Again I was so focused on the decoration part of the building, and elements of the surrounding area. It is like a busy map instead of a breathing cover. And when I want to introduce activities, especially crowds into the forest of building, it just did not work. And again, I was using brush and ink, the media that I thought I had mastered and will make my life easy. With one week left, and no illustration done, I was very frustrated at that time. Lucky my friends(Shreyas) pointed out that if I want to draw lots of buildings, I have to cut out the crowds. If I want to do a crowd illustration, buildings should be eliminated as a secondary design elements. It is very important to show a focus elements otherwise the images won’t hold together. Again I realized that I want to do too much on in an illustration. However if it is a busy image, proper idea execution, or let’s say planning, is very important to sort out who is the center, and who is the side kick.Without that, despite it is a subject that I really like, the art making process will not run smooth. It is a lesson learned at the last minute. So my original plan of making four cities cuts to two. At the end I finished two illustrations that I am pretty happy with. They turned to a busy illustration with all the details I felt I’m offering a tourist map rather than a cover. Actually now I look at these, I wish the cover can be simpler, maybe a pat-


tern will be better, and include my wonderful illustration as an imaginary map can be better.






Conclusion What I thought should be an easy and grand project turned out to be a frustrating process that I suffered both physically, and psychologically. I think I didn’t go deep into my heart about what I really want to do. And the fear of if there is not enough detail, it is not a successful piece hunts me, and blind my vision. Also, I was worry too much about portfolio piece and market acceptance when making illustration. When the joy of making art is missing, I would rather be a sales lady than an illustrator. Having said that the next chapter I sort loose myself a bit, and allow myself to enjoy the process more.




Chapter 2 Play In this chapter, most of them are small reaction pieces. Usually within a 5 days period to finish from sketch to finish. The less time it is, the less concern of making the work glorious. I felt like play with most of these project. The result please me much more. I have less stress, and don’t expecting anything from it. And the result usually surprises me in a good way.


Sketchbook Project

The sketchbook project is quite casual. I have to admit, at the begnning of the process I was following the deadline pretty good. Each week we finish one page in our current sckethbook and pass it to our classmates. However at the end, some of us had two or three sketchbooks on hand. “Ooops� would summurized the end of semester chaos. So in the process, I was experimenting with various technique. Because of the nature of the sketch quality of book, I put my very raw idea. The ideas are usually not polished to fit the theme, and the images are usually bald.


Parts of the Whole



City Lights

Bows and Arrows



History Book



Upside Down








Letter press workshop is really short. It is just one night. The experience is to see the beauty of pressed ink on various paper surface. I’ve experimented it with metalic surfaces, pink and white paper, even silver pigment on black paper. Overall, I think the gold metalic paper provide a very unique texture to the letterpress process. Not only it is shining, the contast between the very mat pigment and sparkle paper surface create a luxury sense. I really like letter press. However I don’t see myself using this for my future personal work. The reason is simple to make the polymer mold of the image is expensive. The letterpress machine is also hard to find. The equipment is very limited. So what I can do now, is just having fun with these illustrations.



10 Ideas- Part 2

At the beginning of the second semester, we are told to finish ht e10 ideas. I was a little frustrated because coming up with 4 idea was already fryed up my brain. So I started to brainstorm. City, season, people and fashion. My first was to make a year calendar with each city represent each month. Roughly in my head, Kyoto as April, Moscow as January, Rio as July. Moving from the city idea, I want to do a building stack on top with each other, and each window is a scene of people’s life in the city to illustrate the lifestyle diversity and the condensity in it. With the time shift, another idea just pop out. I can do four pattern to illustrate the four season, from the perspective of what a city people wants. After these I kind of hit a stop and need to take a break.

At the same time, I got my copy of “Study of Pose” in which, there are 1000 poses posed by Canadian super model Coco


Rocha. I love fashion ,and especially their exaggerated pose which really express the beauty from the muscle and bone. So as I flip through the 1000 beautiful, weird, poses, another idea pop out. Why not associate these poses with some activity. And all of a sudden I remember the current exercises chart for sitting too long. This is the exact problem I have, and I need to move, twist, kick my body around hopefully at the same time do some meaningful activity. So why not making them into a series of reading poses. Instead of sit for hours to read, hold the book high, push the book underneath one leg and bent over to read them, can totally prevent the buildup stiffness in muscle. It become a out of box idea, at least for me. Ok supermodel, immediately remind me the wonderful high heel which empowered self-confidence, and enhance the waist hip curve, but totally uncomfortable at all. But I love to draw high heel. And I love to shop for shoes. I began doodling a sassy cat wearing two pair of louboutin pump. And different animals need different kind of shoes to suit their personally. Thus the new idea of to illustrate a story about animals shopping for shoe shined to me.


My brain is really emptied out with idea, so I took the old idea which is to make a tourist map. A Hangzhou illustrated tourist map is what I want to do for many years. In China, Hangzhou is so beautiful, that always being compared with the paradise. I lived in there for 3 years, and loved it, hopefully once I get rich sometimes later, I can afford to buy house, and enjoy the peach flower in the spring, pick fresh green, draw besides the west Lake, listen to the sounds from willow tree moved by the breeze, and smell the deep autumn osmanthus flower. That’s a perfect life.


End of my dream retire life, I finally finished 10 ideas. I have to say the two favourite ones are animal shopping shoes story, and 1000 pose in reading. These are the whimsical ideas that I never thought I can pull out of my head. I think it happened when I allow myself to step away from what I usually do, and explore the possibility in books,(that’s right, not internet). Let the other artist’s work to fire a spark in my head, and drawing that done immediate. It might be unusual, but it might be really good.


Bookbinding Project Overlapping people

This is the first reaction piece in September. After Stephanie showed many interesting way to bind a book, I decided to do an accordion flag book. I like after open the accordion flag book, the inter-crossed create a sort of 3D illusion which I was attracted to. Why did I decided to do a overlapping lady image for that? I was glancing through my fashion magazine at that time. I thought to twist their pose together, and with the come out flag it would look like some of them is in front, and some is hiding in the back. Is there a strict theme or an idea to communicate? No. I was inspired by the beautiful body and really want to draw it in a different way. Since I’ve never done the accordion flag book before, I don’t even know how it will look like. So I gouache painted them. The ladies are inter-twisted without any previous planning. They wrap, stretch, overlap spontaneously. The end result, well, the craftsmanship can be improved, but the unpredictable process and the final image I really enjoyed. I was not sure if there a central theme except twist for this project until the critique. In the critique, Stephanie, the workshop teacher pointed out the two purple cover can be two pillows. Because these ladies looks like they are dreaming or day dreaming. I like this direction. Maybe someday later I will refine the piece.



Laser Cutting

Once you see my last chapter about the paper engineering project, you would understand before laser cutting reaction I was pretty sure I can not be good in 3D art. I was thinking hard about what form can I do, what image to be cut. Why not use my old project, like the “image harvest�-My Journey. I can cut the background in one paper, and the people in another paper. And glue them together as a lantern, and maybe it will be a good idea? I don’t know. I will just give it a try. So I vectorized my illustration on Saturday morning and then waited in line in the laser studio for 6 hours to get them cut. For the paper, I use rice-paper, to get the traditional Chinese/Japanese lantern texture. I was impressed by the neatness from the lasercut. Each piece looks like a well crafted paper cut illustration. But anyway this is only the first step. Because when I place the people paper behind the city paper, still can not imagine how the light will play on it. After I got the wood sticks and glue them together. I insert my mini lamp device secured by a heavy metal pipe part. I was amazed. The people shadow cast on the building paper. And the building layer cast another shadow surround the lantern. It looks like a perfect gift light for Christmas. Lasercut lantern is a big surprises for me. I was still lack a bit of plan, but I was not trying to inject too much idea or decoration elements into the art. The simple image created by just layering on top of each other made the image complex enough. And the process was enjoyable.



Patteran-Urban Life

Pattern, in my mind, is purely an aesthetic form. How- ever we have to come up with a theme for the set. I decided my theme is urban life. I was born in China. Later I moved to Toronto, Canada. Before I came to Baltimore, I was living in New York for many years. I want to illustrate my experience of life in the city.

Piling This is inspired by New York. The city. The man made society takes away the living spaces for the nature, that it has to find its own way to survive.



Calmness In the stressful city life, people usually choose to do yoga to calm them down. However with so many other choices to achive temperary inner peace, it is almost impossible to set the mind to be still. The least one can do is to go with the flow.



Urban Girls When I was living in New York. A lot of people walking on the street are very cautious about their look. As if once they step out of their apartment, the street is a show stage to show their identity .



Urban Guys Once I did the urban girls pattern, I felt the need to illustrate the other half of the human populartion in the city. The guys are as cautious about their looks as the girls. Although their fashion choice was not as colorful as the girls, they are still able to manage to pull a look together with simple shirt and a paire of clean cut pants.



Travel The other topic when I was living a metropolitan area was that people was about travel, especially to an exotice place. I traveled a lot in my very short lifetime. Most of the time I find the travel experience is more about battling through the over crowded tourist place rather than enjoy the local lifestyle.



Hand Lettering

This is a very quick project. I have only one week to create 3 sets of alphabet. I was inspired a set of example of turning nudes into alphabet. I really want to incorporate my love for fashion into this project. The other two sets I decided to do something with what I also really enjoy, food and plants. This project, not only I experiment different technique, and also experiment with twist the form from different kind of object, at the same still make it readable as alphabets.

2015 Fashion Week The 2015 Fashion Week series is the starting point of why I want to do form altering letters. My research is based on 2015’s Paris Fashion Week, London Fashion Week, and the New York Fashion Week. I was very exited to include some of my favorite designers like Jean Paul Gaultier, Lanvin, and Comme Des Garcon etc. For me, the attraction of high fashion is a form of art itself. By twisting these art into letters I felt that I contribute my creativity to the field that I really like. With the limitation of time, I decided only to come up with ideas for the set. I will carry it to my independent project.



Spice This set is inspired by my spice collection. I was amazed the nature shape lie bay leaf fits on the heavy curvy part of C D and O. The star anise gives subtle variation on the form of each letter. I use iphone and natural sun- light to create this series.


Indoor Plants In this indoor plants series, I include some of the most popular decorative indoor plants. A is for aloe; F is for bird of paradise; P is for olive tree; C is for ox tongue; Y is for fig tree. I used watercolor as the media to have the nature feeling for this series.


Stop Motion

This is an interesting experience. Before stop motion, I have never thought about making image moving. So when it is time to sketch out ideas, I was in a procrastinate mood. What can I do something I really don’t want to. I just want to sleep. That sparks me, maybe I can do a get up in the morning animation to animate the scene of don’t want to do something. So I start to imagine my own routine in between notice it is morning to fully wake up. I set up three stages of too much lights, noise phone alarm and birds attack. Each stage is elevated to the next level in order to wake this center character up. Except the bird attack, these are all real thing happened in life. Stop motion requited hands to move around each moving elements. And this is the fun, and unexpected part. In the crowd bird moving scene, there are way too many piece to move and cross with each other. There are few birds’ wing moved into the pillow and I just can’t get them out without devastating the lower part of the scene. Once all the birds all moved out, I realized there is a little thing under the pillow and that is the mistake that I forget to take it away. “Oh dear god, what can I do!?” I asked myself. But all of a sudden I realized why not make it into a small bird hide under the pillow the whole time. It flies away after the attacking happened. It is a happy accident, and what I enjoyed with this experimental experience.

To view the actual movie, please go to the link below.



Conclusion In this chapters are some of my favorite experience in this year. I’m not sure if it is the time limit, or it is because I’m not familiar with the format and media, the uncertainty actually allow me to go out of my comfort zone and find something very interesting while making these projects. Even though they are not well thought out, but the execution is way loose and free comparing with the projects in chapter 1. I find that I have to allow myself to play with making illustration, not to use it as a tool to make image. I think I find what is the more beneficial attitude with drawing and painting is the most valuable lesson learned in this chapter.




Chapter 3 Play Big The following projects are all quite big. They took more than 2 weeks. In each of them, I constantly remind myself to break the “box” which limited my imagination. If Chapter 2 is about having fun This chapter is about having “serious” fun, if that make sense.


P for Pussy

This is an interesting project. The concept befind the book is for the word to have double meaning, one is normal for the kids and the other is a bit dirty for the adults’ pleasure. I can never imaging myself buy a alphebet book like this to read for my kids. I would purchase this for my partner so we can both having fun. Because of the unfamiliar with this kind of subject, I really have to open my mind when sketch out ideas. The image should fit in with children’s book. However it would be idea to have an adult twist be visible. It was a struggle at the beginning because I am not sure where is the “line” of too horny. As I move along, I had some intersting ideas on paper. I really like my ruster head stick out of pants for “cock”, And I did a kid flying on the sky looking so ecstacy and the flowers underneath of her are in full bloom with the pile inside. I might never use these images for my portfolio. But the process still let me learned some valuable lesson. I find that usually it is the subject matter that I’m not familiar with that can force me to try something new and exciting. At the end, I am the one that impressed. I can do it.


C for Cock

D for Dime

E for Ecstasy

K for Kinky

S for Seaman

V for Vixen


Words on Wheel

I was given two poems to illustrate. Both of them are from elementary school kids. The struggle at the beginning was that I am so afraid that my idea would not suite the public transportation system. In my mind, it is a children’s book type project. I have never made such thing like that. Can I do it? Once I shift my focus from fearing of making mistake to read into to the poem, some good ideas comes to my brain.

Two When the sun goes down, the moon comes out. When a dog dies, a new one is born. When a scientist fails, another succeeds. When a planet explodes, a new one is created. When someone dies, it rains. When there is a fire, then it pours. Things happen by two. Overall this I felt there is a universe in this poem. The poem has the sense of motion in a circle. Therefore I want to capture the feeling of cycle and birth. The idea from the top to the bottom is as below: The first idea is the cycle of life. The second one is the science experiment creates the big bang of new universe. The third idea is that people surround the new born baby in a funeral. Eventually the cycle of life best represented the spirit of the poem. The finished piece is as in the next page.



Remarkable Day Cool breeze whistles through The blue open sky as the Leaves fall upon you When I first get the poem the title was “Untitled Haiku”. With the original title, it was very hard to get the mood of the poem. The poem itself is very open. Although the activity is fully described there, the intension behind the activity is totally missing. It was frustrating at the beginning as if I can’t find what is the author’s direction. But I have to remind myself to be free. What is important is my interpretation at this moment. So I came up with three ideas. The first one is the clouds from the heaven blow the blessing out through a whistle. As the blessed stars will eventually fall upon someone. The second one is falling leaves in human form. As the cool breeze whistles through them, they are enjoying their moment in the open sky. The third one is the falling leaves turning into two birds. They carried the whistle from the sky, and fly into one’s eye. The leave people was chosen since it offer another level of meaning. The day before we submitted the poem, I get the email that the kid want to change “Untitled Haiku” to “Remarkable Day”. I was pretty lucky.



When the sun goes down, the moon comes ou When a dog dies, a new one is born. When a scientist fails, another succeeds. When a planet explodes, a new one is created When someone dies, it rains. When there is a fire, then it pours. Things happen by two. Yonathan Camillo, Grade 4 Wolfe Street Academy Teacher: Tiffany Judy

Final Poster of the “Two� Poem





A Joint Project of: Baltimore Design School Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School Baltimore School for the Arts Commodore John Rodgers Elementary/Middle School Cross Country Elementary/Middle School Edgewood Elementary School Hampstead Hill Academy Holabird Academy KIPP Ujima Village Academy Maryland Institute College of Art Midtown Academy Roland Park Elementary Success Academy Wolfe Street Academy SPONSORED BY:


Remarkable Day Cool breeze whistles through the blue open sky as the leaves fall upon you Marius Benichou, Grade 5 Baltimore Montessori Public Charter Teacher: Melissa Lake

Final Poster of the “Remarkable Day� Poem



A Joint Project of: Baltimore Design School Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School Baltimore School for the Arts Commodore John Rodgers Elementary/Middle School Cross Country Elementary/Middle School Edgewood Elementary School Hampstead Hill Academy Holabird Academy KIPP Ujima Village Academy Maryland Institute College of Art Midtown Academy Roland Park Elementary Success Academy Wolfe Street Academy SPONSORED BY:


Individual Project

After I experiement through out the semester, I can finally continue the fashion alphabetic project. Since I start to make the final illustration for each of the letter, I realize it is no long just a alphabet chart. Each letter becomes an individual illustration of its own. So I changed the original chart format and make it into a accordion fold book format to show case more of the individual character. Later I want to develop a series of illustration about the four season based on my alphabet charaters. The mission behind it is to put each character in a fantastic envrioment, that the clothes are living in a context. Throughout the sketch process, fantastic nature become the dominent theme to tide up the series together. I chose S lady as the main chacarater for the spring poster. The plants are growing out from her, while she is sleeping. It reminds me the awakening atmosphere in the spring season. The E lady swims underneath the ocean with the jelly fish. A lady is picking up fruit in the harvest fall season. Finally the W lady rides with her deer, ready to distribute Christmas gifts to us.




Summer 70

Fall 71

Winter 72

I include the sketches for the 2015 fashion alphabetic below. At the beginning, I thought it is just a one day, or a week project to finish all the letters. However as I srated, I realize they become their own individual illustration. For each of them to have their unique character, I have to put a lot more details than the spice set and the indoor plants set. During the excution process, I’ve tried various technique, full digital illustration, half traditional painting and half digital, lined illustration. Therefore, through out the process, there are few variations that made each character very different from each other. It is also a documantary process of how my drawing technique involved.




Conclusion In this chapter, there are two projects that I’m usually not familiar with. And the last project that I’m familiar with. I have to say the unfamiliar ones gives more surprises than my own individual project. I guess with big projects like these, I still have to remind myself take it seriously, think deeper, and sketch out more ideas. But never forget to play, and never let the my own limited view to block myself from expanding possibilities on idea generating.




Chapter 4 Confused It is not every single project is meaningful in the first year. There are times that things I did made me realize I never want to touch it again.


Paper Engineering

Paper Engineering project is the one that I just have no idea what to do. The final product is what I called “hell”. It is based on idea of recrimination front and back side of this were illustrated with struggling hands and feet. At the center, there is an opened eye symbolize the realization after suffering, and the pass to reborn. The techniqle problem was that I glue the two illustration on the two sides of the board. The paper piece can be close and open. At the motion stage, the inner square would twist. However, because of the glued extra paper, the motion was stucked. So the twist feeling isn’t there anymore. Also the format of this piece somehow is not right. It does not look like a final piece. The worst thing is that I have no idea how to fix it. So there it is. I have no idea what do to. It is a failure piece. I did not like any part of it. In conclusion, I know this technique is not in my capability. It is nessesary to do it, in order to know you do not like.





Profile for Jackie Zhu


Jackie's idea book which summaries her first year graduate study at MICA Illustration Practice.


Jackie's idea book which summaries her first year graduate study at MICA Illustration Practice.

Profile for jackiezhu