Thank you to everyone, especially my family and friends, who have supported me throughout this journey. As well as a very special thanks to Whitney Sherman and Jaime Zollars who pushed me to work in ways I would have never have expected.
CONTENTS Introduction / Foreword Sketchbook Project* Letterpress Workshop Sketchbook Project Image Harvesting Project Ma Petite Shoe Poster Cheater Comic: Three Workshop Reactions and Publishing Project MFA 1 Show: Lost & Found MICA Sexual Health Week Poster Art Market: Backwood Birch Product Line Winter Break Projects Creatures Alphabet Book Hand Lettering Project and Show Words on Wheels Patterning Project Made & Sold with Tomi Vollauschek MOCCA FEST Patapsco Stop Motion Animation with Melinda Beck Reflection and Moving Forward
*Spreads and other sketches intermingled throughout the book.
A Little About Me
Hi, my name is Kevin Valente and I am a 2014 MFA Illustration Practice candidate. This process book entitled “Sorry, Not Sorry” is a collection of sketches and projects laid out as visual diary. By taking the reader chronologically through the projects — both in and out of our MFA studio class — I wish to best illustrate the growth and transformation I have experienced through the 2012-2013 academic year. Looking back, it becomes clear that my growth — both artistically and professionally — would have not been as immense without two key factors. The first being the act of constantly creating work as a means to fully understand an idea, as well as generate creativity; and the second is the willingness be unafraid of creating pursuing a project that may end in failure. Thus, the two mantras that have defined my first year as an MFA candidate are: “Learning through Doing” and “Trial and Error.” It was only through the process of constant creation and learning from my failures, that I have been able to grow and learn as much as I have. It has been a challenging, but extremely rewarding experience.
I’m a mustachioed Rhode Island native currently living and working in Baltimore. As a kid, I grew up abroad with my family, where our time was spent traveling throughout Asia and Europe. I obtained my BFA in Illustration with a concentration in Graphic Design from MICA in 2012. As an MFA candidate, I am very interested in the worlds of publishing and art direction. My work — referential of a childhood rooted in the 90’s — is characterized by bright color fields, intricate pattern work, and a quirky, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. I am very interested in the exploration of humor through art.
SKETCHBOOK PROJECT The Sketchbook Project, sponsored by the Brooklyn Art Museum, was the first project assigned to us at graduate students. We, as a class, were tasked with the responsibility of filling thirteen sketchbooks throughout the entire semester by exchanging them with each other every Thursday. It was a fun and easy way to not only learn each other’s styles and skills, but to also have to collaborate and work off of one another. The sketchbook that I was initially assigned was “Chronicle.” The inside cover spread (previous page) and this second page were the first pieces of art that I created as a student in the program. As a semester long project, working within these sketchbooks was a wonderful way to explore my own color sensibilities, love of hand lettering, and exploration of humor and absurdity that were not applicable to the many of the main studio projects. For me, working on a new spread weekly provided an outlet to explore a side of my illustration that was more personal and self-serving. As a result, the experience provided me with the opportunity to fulfill my own artist desires that I did not get to work with in the assignment based projects.
LETTERPRESS WORKSHOP My favorite workshop of the first semester was the Letterpress Workshop at the Baltimore Print Studios with Kyle and Kim, in which we learned to work with polymer plates. I had created a post card, tags for selling items and two different versions of a business card. It was at this moment that really began to become excited about hand lettering, and readily began using it throughout my work. Job as Printer Tech at Dolphin At the same time as the workshop, I began working with Kyle in the Printmaking department as a Printer Tech. Besides my usual work requirements, I have been creating posters and flyers for the Printmaking Department for the past year. Starting initially in a more graphic approach, the style of design â€” influenced by my own interest in hand lettering â€” has transformed into a more illustrative approach. The first piece I created for the department is this printer hour sign.
Image Harvesting was the first major project we were assigned. The project prompted us to first generate ten ideas by searching through our old work and looking for themes and reoccurring motifs. For myself, I found that in many of my screen prints and illustrations I have been using many elements from the natural world to express stories about human nature and relationships. Furthermore, the deer — a symbol of friendship and kindness — was a major reoccurring aspect.
Most interested in the idea of relationships and the human experience, I streamlined one of my ten ideas into a stationary box set. The box included three different cards with envelopes, a notebook, a fold our print, a bookmark and an inventory card. Wishing to continue the printerly process from my own screen prints — and more recently the letterpress workshop, I screen printed the entire product line, including the decorative paper found within the box.
Although the final product of this project was not exactly what I had wished for as a result of my first time trying to transfer drawings onto a wooden box with wintergreen oil, the overall experience was positive. Taking the time to not only generate a diverse amount of ideas, but also to bringing them to fully realized organized sketches provided for me the framework in which to approach each future project. At the same time, it was extremely helpful to look introspectively at the patterns of imagery and themes that I am drawn to in my work.
MA PETITE SHOE POSTER As my first commissioned art project of the semester, I was asked to create the Octoberfest Party Poster by Ma Petite Shoe as part of a collaboration between MICA student activates and Ma Petite Shoe. This poster marks my first time using the cintiq to both digitally color and clean up my ink drawings. I liked it so much that it has become the way I work now. The poster, featuring monsters surrounding a hightop shoe, derives its imagery from the Creatureâ€™s sketchbook I did the week before. The ability to be able to work both in the sketchbooks and create independent work for outside projects really aided in refining my style and process of working. The real world experience of working with a business and receiving art direction outside of the classroom, as well as creating a client-illustrator relationship was invaluable.
CHEATER COMIC 3 WORKSHOPS REACTION & PUBLISHING PROJECT
Initially, I had not planned to combine my Three Reactions Workshop Project with my Publishing Project, but as the complexity of Cheater grew, it became apparent that the best way to fulfill both requirements, while satisfying my desire to create an actual comic — and thus get a small taste of what it would mean to make a graphic novel — was to combine both elements into one. Cheater, a comic based off of past personal events — although certain aspects of the story such as location and timing location have been altered — is the story about realizing that my said boyfriend at the time had ventured into the weird gray area
of online promiscuity, in which he posted a “man seeking man” personal ad on craigslist. I was interested in telling this story because of how relevant it is to our world today. With so much that can be seen and done privately at your computer, at what point does the act of betrayal exist? Although he never pursued a physical encounter, I see his act of seeking out other options as huge violation of trust and an act of unfaithfulness. This comic freely speaks of that opinion. As no doubt the most time consuming and extensive of all my projects for the first semester, Cheater was a huge undertaking (especially since as part
of the Publishing Project we had to make twenty copies). I chose to take a step back from color and create the entire comic in graphite pencil, which I then digitally cleaned up. Interested in working outside the standard 5” x 7’ format, I created the comic so that it would fold out into a 10” x 28” spread (referencing our Paper Engineering Workshop) similar to that of tabloid. The final product had a screen-printed cover and came packaged inside a screen-printed (Letterpress Workshop) and sewn paper sleeve (Sewing Workshop), with a limited print of the cover art.
LOST & FOUND
Lost and Found (referencing year’s overall theme) was the title of our first year MFA 1 Illustration Practice show. Wishing to only show the work that I had created as an MFA student, I choose to print out the pages of Cheater onto 22’’ x 30” sheets of Arches, and in lieu of frames, hung the prints raw with clips on the wall. In addition, I also included a physical copy of Cheater, as well as a series of five books for the Everyman’s Pocket Poetry series that I had created in my fall graduate elective Making Good Ideas.
MICA SEXUAL HEALTH WEEK POSTER Around the completion of Cheater and the show, I was approached by MICA student activities to create two posters for MICAâ€™s Sexual Health Week campaign. Excited to work in a medium other than graphite, I jumped at the opportunity to create colorful patterns of dicks and vaginas. Still working towards getting a better understanding of how to work digitally, these posters were my first experimentation with drawing directly in illustrator and using livepaint to color the line work. It was great to work again in pattern, which I had not done since the Image Harvesting project when I made the Hello pattern.
BACKWOOD BIRCH PRODUCT LINE
Backwood Birch The final major project of the semester was the creation of brand to sell at Art Market. Through the process creating a pitch, we were able to fully comprehend the work that goes into creating a product. Still interested in the idea of letter writing and strengthen relationships through personal interaction outside of the internet, I expanded my stationary line from the Image Harvesting project and into a parallel line of cards and items known as Backwood Birch. The main product for Art Market was a packaged set of five cards each with their own quirky drawings of deer and other animals paired with hand-lettered puns. From this initial set, I also sold individual cards (small and large), prints, and screen-printed sketchbooks featuring a woods pattern I had initially made to appear on the back of the cards, but ultimately decided against it in end in lieu of a scanned in wood grain texture.
The target audience for Backwood Birch were individuals who enjoyed the silly, quirky, tonguein-cheek humor apparent in the copy. The ideal customer was someone who themselves found the cards pleasing, or wishing to send some laughter to friend, knew of someone else who would enjoy receiving such a card. Although I am not entirely satisfied with the illustrations found on the cards, the product line was very well received with most people reacting to the funny sentiments expressed in the puns. This
realization along with issues in having outsourced the printing, provided a lot of insight into how difficult it actually is participate not only in trade shows, but also how difficult and aggravating it must be to develop and sell a successful product line for a living. Upon completion of Backwood Birch, I realized that I should embrace the elements that make my work unique and work hard to bring all the other shortcomings to that level of success. It had become clear that my witty, off kilter sense of humor, and my interest in hand lettering were the directions I need to pursue.
FROM THE FALL
From everything that I have done in the first semester, I have learned a great deal. As year spent experimenting, I definitely tried — both failures and success — to approach projects in the first semester in new ways, and to think outside of my own creative comfort zone. As I look back at each of the projects I undertook, the biggest realization that I have come to learn is that I need to work on better time management, as well as embracing more conceptualization of ideas (even in projects with definite rules and parameters). This semester instilled with me a the bravery to not being afraid to plan over ambitious projects, but also the comprehension to understand that it is important to be realistic about the time and resources you have to create what you want. The semester was definitely a “birth through fire” experience, and although it was intense and insane at times, the fact that all of us experienced it together, and we were all able to support each other and growth together made it all worth the while.
WINTER BREAK PROJECTS In between the fall and spring semester, I had some time to do some personal projects. The first that I created were a limited edition set of Christmas / Holiday cards, and tags using rubber, a lino cutter and block printing ink. It was a well needed reprieve from working digitally.
CREATURES ALPHABET BOOK During the winter break, I also participate in Creatures: An Alphabet Book in which we as program all collaborated together to create a book for faculty member Jaime Zollars as a present for recently having a baby. Looking to switch up my hand lettering, I experimented with actually writing in Photoshop, as opposed to my usual method of working in which I scan my hand lettering in and then digital coloring. Although the process was faster, I enjoy the act of drawing on paper so much more. As for the actual illustrations, it was a lot of fun to go pattern crazy in each of the two characters whose features are a natural progression from the monsters I created in the fall.
The first project of this spring semester was a hand lettering unit in which we as a group decided to produce a show called Franken Poetry and was modeled off the idea of refrigeration poetry, in which a random selection of words are arranged together to create small sections of prose. Through a series of sketches and critiques, I illustrated eighteen words through a variety of different styles and means, enjoying the playful nature of creating meaning to the words through the letter forms.
Unlike the previous semester in which we had rolling deadlines, having a project with a definite deadline really helped to set the pace of a semester and kick start the hardworking. I left this project inspired â€” by the creativity of my fellow students â€” and also energized for the projects that laid ahead.
WORDS ON WHEELS Words on Wheels was the second project of the semester, in which we were assigned poems written by Baltimore public school children and then asked to illustrate the poem with emphasis on the poem itself rather than the individual. I was given the poems “Survive” by Taj Logan and “Believe You Can” by Yasmine Abdulla. I enjoyed this project a lot because we were literally bringing to life the poetry of students. At the same, since the selected illustrated poems would be featured on MTA (Maryland Transit Association) buses, everyone worked hard to create imagery that was both inspiring and fun to look at. Unfortunately as a result of creating imagery that overstated the poetry, neither of my illustrations were selected. This rejection was a good learning experience. As an illustrator working in this industry, there will many times when work a person will create something and it will not be used because it does not appropriately fit the clients’ need. Nonetheless, I was happy to be able to try out a new style of digital illustration, as well as support my fellow first year MFA candidates as they presented and talked about the work they made at the launch party.
Final Illustrations located on the next two pages, followed by initial sketches and event photos.
Of all the projects that I did this year, the Patterning and Licensing Project done with Jaime Zollars and Julia Rothman was my favorite. It may even set the course for what I will do for my thesis project. In the Patterning project, we were required to create five patterns that fit into a theme and could be sold a set. Then we were asked to create possible applications for these patterns. Instead of taking the easy way out, I made five distinct and separate patterns all revolving around the theme of the modern mountain man and his lifestyle. Therefore I chose to create a pattern about living in the wilderness, a pattern about eating a hearty breakfast while camping, a pattern of the different tents one would use in the wild, a regal pattern of bearded mountain men with axes and pinecones, and lastly, a pattern of gem stones, pickaxes and mining helmets as a form of speculation to the type of job a mountain man would have. I greatly enjoyed the experience of learning how to make a pattern both manually and digitally, and worked diligently to create each one to a level of finish that I was happy with.
The application of the pattern is intended for menâ€™s shirts, following current trends in menâ€™s clothing for highly colorful and quirky patterned clothing. Having ordered these designs off of Spoonflower, I am currently working with my friend Caroline Milton to create the shirts, as well as a series of bow ties to be sold on my website.
MADE & SOLD
Made & Sold with Tomi Vollauschek was a project full of mystery and experimentation. Vollauschek, who stayed with us for four days, created a three-day workshop for which we had to create a print, and then find different applications for the work we created. Producing blindly was a rather difficult challenge as there was no way to know that what we were making would translate to the products we would potentially then make.
For this project, after numerous different ideas and sketches, I created a print about alcohol, selecting the four most commonly consumed alcohols in the world: beer, vodka, tequila and whiskey. Then taking reference from our recently finished pattern project, illustrated each alcohol through intricate patterned rendering of the containers commonly associated with them. From there I created a full color print, which will be
screen-printed to be sold online. From that main illustration, we took elements and applied them to buttons. We were also tasked with designing a package for them. After that, Vollauschek pushed us to come up with a potential product beyond the buttons that we could see our illustration living on. I chose tote bags, for which I made a pattern from the different elements on the print, and then blew up my drawing of the National Bohemian Beer can to be featured on the opposing side. This I believed would be a natural must have for any Baltimore citizen. Made & Sold taught me a lot about the versatility and longevity that an illustration can have beyond its initial intended use. The quick turn around rate, although somewhat crazy pushed us to trust our instincts and create pieces that truly represented our aesthetic and ourselves.
This semester I spearheaded the programâ€™s involvement in the 2013 MoCCA (Museum of Comic and Cartooning Art) Festival. As team leader, I gladly embraced the responsibility of getting everything ready from corresponding with event employees, to creating promotional materials to entice undergrad and graduate involvement, to making t-shirts and a collaborative â€˜zine, and ultimately, running and manning the table at MoCCA Fest itself.
Although a lot my involvement with MoCCA festival dealt with administrative work and social media promotion, I was excited to have the opportunity to create work for our program’s campaign to get other students to sell at our table, as well as, participate in the production of promotional material for program at MoCCA Fest. This included screenprinting t-shirts featuring my hand lettering and Lisk Feng’s illustration and the collaborative ‘zine Opposites Attract produced by Seo Kim, Maily Degnan, Sarah Jacoby, Eduardo Corral and myself. The idea for the ‘zine, initially discussed between Jacoby and myself, was a great collaborative proj-
ect that got almost the entire program involved through the submission of artwork relating to the theme. I created my own original piece to submit. Furthering the collaboration, Corral and I combined our own humor and style of illustration together to make the cover art, a combination of drugs (myself) and candy (Corral). Selling at MoCCA Fest itself will be an unforgettable experience. It was amazing and awesome to meet and talk with Jillian Tamaki, as well as, the numerous other vendors and participants. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect, was hearing from so many different people about how professional our table looked. It was also great to sell so many of my Natty Boh Prints. The en-
tire experience from the initial poster creation, to managing our team, to ferrying all the work from Baltimore to New York City in my car has definitely prepared me for what is required to sell by myself at tradeshows in the future. It was so great to have
had the opportunity to promote the program and ourselves. I am thankful for the experiences from the fall semester, as well as the past three years of experience of selling at art market that amply prepared me for running a successful event.
PATAPSCO STOP MOTION ANIMATION
As the final project of the semester, the Stop Motion Project with Melinda Beck was for me the most experimental. Beck pushed us to create three storyboard sketches for three different concepts, and then choose the one that as a group we thought had the most potential. For myself, that was my story and sketches for a song by my friend’s band Infinite Honey entitled “Patapsco.” My idea was to show the bands van leaving the city and then driving through the countryside, and as van passes through the different settings, the “goddess of nature” — a repeated motif from the song — would come and bring life into the forest through planting seeds, decorating trees and introducing animals. The animation would end with the van reaching the top of a mountain and over looking the Patapsco state park below. The process of creation was for the most engaging part of this project. I took drawings and textures I had created, scanned them in, digitally colored them, printed them out, and then used them as the basis for my cut paper animation. As far as the actual animation production, I found it extremely aggravating and trying at times. Thankfully after a lot of trial and error, reshoots to find the best frame rate and focus, I was able to produce the first 40 seconds of the song. From the experience of creating the first animation, I wish to continue to the animation of Patapsco into a full three-minute video, which I will begin reshooting at the end of the semester. I leave this project intrigued by the process of creation, of seeing my illustration in motion and look forward to adding movement and motion to my of my illustration.
AND MOVING FORWARD
Without a doubt this past academic year has been work. Looking back, we were really challenged to not only produce on a constant basis, but to produce work of the highest caliber. At times it seemed impossible, but I am thankful for the intensity, as it pushed me to work my hardest, and as such, allowed me to grow in ways I would have never have guessed.
had found it extremely difficult to adapt to the structure of this first year — a year dedicated to experimentation through project-based units. However, I believe that through all the experimentation, and all the workshops and projects that I have truly evolved into a well-rounded Illustrator with more tools and knowledge available to me than ever before.
Entering into the MFA Illustration Practice program, I was searching for new ways to expand my own understanding of Illustration, and now thinking back to August, I would never have guessed that I would have learned so much about so many different facets of the Illustration world. Moreover, I am amazed at places this journey has taken to me. I would have never thought that I would be interested in working an expo, and yet I had a blast running this year’s MoCCA Festival table, nor would I have ever thought that creating a stop motion animation would give me such intense satisfaction. And although this journey has been a roller coaster of frustration, laughter and tears, the people that I shared that past eight months with — faculty and students alike —have made it a truly memorable and amazing experience.
I am ready to move forward from this MFA 1 year, and begin the journey that will lead to my thesis over this summer and the next year. I am excited and energized for what is to come. I know that as long as I take with me what I have learned, and continue to stay diligent in process of creating that I will be able to make my thesis project the best it can possibly be. No longer apprehensive of what failure it might bring, I leave this year embracing the uncertainty that happens when you venture into the unknown. I know now that growth only can happen through trial and error. After all, if there is one undisputable lesson I have from my time here: practice makes perfect.
Furthermore, I have enjoyed being pushed to explore new mediums and new ways of making, as it has made me fearless in the face of potential failure. It is in the act of doing and experiencing the process, even if the result is disaster that has helped me grow and mature the most. At first, I
Future Projects: Website Redesign & Online Store Amanda Bynes ‘zine entitled “Long Hair Don’t Care” Fully Animated music video for Infinity Honey’s song “Patapsco” Thesis Inklings: Pattern and Apparel Line Illustration explored through Interactive Media
Kevin Valente ‘14 is a Baltimore based Illustrator, who obtained his BFA in Illustration with a concentration in Graphic Design from MICA in 2012. Back again, he currently is working towards a MFA degree in Illustration Practice with hopes to explore the worlds of publishing and art direction. As a child, Kevin grew up abroad, his time spent traveling throughout Asia and Europe where he developed a taste for adventure. Kevin’s work — referential of a childhood rooted in the 90’s — is characterized by bright color fields, intricate pattern work, and a quirky sense of humor. When he is not spending endless hours in the studio, he enjoys exploring new places with his friends, making collaborative ‘zines, and lobbying for mustaches. Find out more: www.kevinvalente.com kevinvalente.tumblr.com tweet @kevin_valente