Baltimore by Megan Jones
A Missouri Bluebird in Baltimore Fall 2013-Spring 2014 Studio Year MFA in Illustration Practice MICA by Megan Jones Candidate for 2015
Megan D. Jones, was born and raised in a rural area near Kansas
City, Missouri, having had a life long interest in nature and the arts. This has lead to a diverse collegiate career that has wandered nearly as much as a bird’s migration path. After graduating with a dual degree in Commercial Arts emphasising in Illustration along with Studio Arts emphasising in Painting from the University of Central Missouri, she spent an additional two years taking coursework in Ceramics, where she developed a love of sculpture and the opportunities it has in illustration. Looking for that next step in advancing her career, she investigated different graduate school programs, finding MICA’s MFA in Illustration Practice to be a perfect fit with it’s strong emphasis in exploration and interdisciplinary studies. Her current work spans many different media, always playing upon the themes of nature, our interactions with it, and the animals we seek to relate to.
Table of Contents First Semester “Testing my Wings” >Sketchbook Project <Image Harvest >Workshops <Sewing/Letterpress >Book Binding/Paper Engineering <Patterning >Reaction <Art Market >Exhibitons <Extracurricular Work >Reflections
Second Semester “Taking Flight” >Handlettering <Words on Wheels >Self Publication <Editorial >Stop Motion <Personal Project >Exhibitions <Extracurricular Work >Reflections & Direction to Fly
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the copyright owner. This book contains original pieces and studies created from September 2013 to May 2014 as part of the curriculum of the MFA in Illustration Practice at MICA.
Testing my Wings
One of the first assignments given at the onset of the program was a semester long col-
laboration between all fifteen of the first year students. Taking blank 5x7 sketchbooks purchased through the Sketchbook Project, an international collaborative library of artists books, each artist was given a theme once a week to illustrate inside along with an initial cover theme. This assignment was a great opportunity to practice new skills, styles and media. There was no overlying series to be created, so the imagery was completely open to the artist.
At the end of the semester, an exhibition was organized by a small group and displayed in
the Fox Four Gallery Space as a way to share our explorative processes with not only the Thesis Years but also the student body as a whole.
The first assignment with a hard deadline for the first years was an exercise called â€œImage Harvestâ€?.
This prompt asked the artists to look back on there previous work and find new avenues in which to recreate the themes. Having just worked on a sculptural series involving promiscuous bird women, I decided to continue this theme using classic pinup poses. Referencing the work of George Petty and Alberto Vargas, I played with the species as I developed a plan for a calendar. With the shortened time limit, I was forced to use my time more for development of concepts and layouts rather than a fully realized calendar. By the end of the assignment, three birds were rendered, cleaned, and placed onto prototype layouts, along with the remaining 9 months being thumbnailed and sketched out for later use.
Workshops Interspersed throughout the semester were short workshops on a variety of subjects. For some, these served as a way to learn new techniques, while for others it was an opportunity to refresh their skils and reflect on the multifaceted nature of illustration today. Some of these workshops from the first semester included:
Documentation and Database creation for our work in the online realm.
space, this was a refresher on specific sewing techniques as well.
ran through their in house letterpress machine, & also discussed small business strategies.
binding, and coptic binding.
Traditional pop-up book technicques were investigated; We were invited to bring an old
image and translate it into three dimensions.
the most intensive of the workshops. Taught various repeats and layout techniques, by the
end we produced a small family of patterns with correspnding applications.
Sewing An introduction on how to use the commerical sewing machine that resides in the studio Letterpress Working at the Baltimore Print Studios, we each designed an image for a polymer plate that Book Binding In this workshop, we visited different binding techniques such as perfect binding, stab Paper Engineering
Patterning/Licensing This weekend workshop with Rachael Taylor, Eric Leland, and Rebecca Bradley, was one of
Workshop Reaction After exploring different avenues for a portion of the semester, our next prompt was to reference at least two of the preceeding workshop techniques in the creation of an object or illustration. Using my history with sewing, I hand crafted a narwhal with a matching Japanese stab bound flip picture book. This book, meant for young children, displayed different interesting facts about one of the most bizarre creatures of the sea. While this was a fun assignment, I feel that it was not as successful as I had hoped it would be. While the narwhalâ€™s form is nice, there were some construction errors along with the book needing to be more graphic to emphasis the intended audience group. In the future, I would like to revisit this book/stuffed animal theme.
As the holiday season approached, the first year students were given another task; Partici-
pation in the Annual MICA Art Market, with our program table. We each had to create products that were reproduced twenty times. This forced the students to look at what they had that would be marketable while still maintaining their personal voice.
Seeing the opportunity, I chose to complete my large scale goals from the Image Harvest
assignment at the onset of the semester. After the remaining nine bird women were painted in gouache, I redesigned everything from the ground up, including the calendar layout. This assignment was an interesting challenge personally because I had never marketed my work in such a way. The response from customers was enriching, and I learned different techniques that I plan to put into action when I once again enter the marketplace.
First Year Program Exhibition
Midway through the semester, we were invited to submit work for a program exhibition in
the Fox 3 Gallery space adjacent to the undergradaute illustration program spaces.This exhibition served as a way to display the diversity of styles present in the members of the MFA program.
This exhibition, a display of a small selection of work from our Sketchbook Project entries,
was organized predominately by a small number of the first year students.
Elective Works & Personal Projects
Reflections in the Winter
Being accepted into graduate school is an exhilirating experience, and I wanted to
show that I was worthy of being accepted amongst my classmates. Previously, I had never pushed myself to such limits with my illustration work. While there were successes, such as the pattern making workshop with Rachael Taylor, there were also learning tools to be had. Certain media, though I am well versed with a particular rendering, may not work in the long run. My concept skills were not challenged nearly as much as they should have been at my previous college, and it was evident in the early assignments such as the Image Harvesting. With time and practice, I feel that I have grown more than I could have ever dreamt of, thanks to not only the successes, but also the failures. Growing up, I had always wanted to prove my worth and demonstrate my abilities to those around me, and I often push my mind and body to the limits to pursue my personal challenges. These experiences in the first semester set a standard from which to push myself to even further heights in the upcoming semesters.
Second Semester Taking Flight
After returning from our Winter break, our first exercise was a Hand Lettering workshop with
program chair, Whitney Sherman. In this workshop, we were shown different avenues that hand lettering works within, along with terms and definitions. After the workshop ended, we were given the task of illustrating a hand made alphabet. I have always intended to create a childrenâ€™s book on the alphabet using bird names. Using this as a testing ground, I took the opportunity to research different unusual bird species, from Quail to Junglefowl.
Our next assignment came from a collaboration between the Maryland Transit Authority
and MICA. In itâ€™s 15th year, the Words on Wheels program paired an artist with a young poet from a local school. We were each given two poems to illustrate, and were juried to see which, if any, would be displayed on the buses for this upcoming year. The poem 2 Kittens, 1 Cat by Jasper Hoffman was selected for display, and will be seen through the 2014-2015 season.
Our next workshop, taught by illlustrator John Hendrix, gave us insight into the process
involved in developing work for editorial use. Showing us his personal sketches and finished work, with exercises meant to push our conceptual skills, our final prompt was the theme â€œKnowledge is Powerâ€?.
For the Self Publication workshop, lead by Eric Leland, we had a weekend visit from Idiots
Books, who showed us the wide range of opportunities in self publishing. We each were prompted to create a small zine on a given subject. Playing upon my humor and punniness, I developed a zine that included different sloths struggling to perform different tasks.
Stop Motion Animation
For one of our final workshops this year, Ru Kuwahata of Tiny Inventions visited for a weekend
to teach us the ins and outs of stop motion animation. For this workshop, I decided to continue playing with humor, referencing my personal history with the west and (having owned chickens as a child) the personalities that animals can have. Created from felt, sculpy, and feathers, filmed and editted completely in Dragonframe, this was my first experience with animation, and ended up being one of my favorite workshops all year.
With the remaining couple of weeks at the end of the semester, we were given one more
task; a completely personal project. I chose to reference back to two of my more successful workshops from this year, the patterning and stop motion. Continuing with the sloth theme from the self publishing, I developed a grouping of patterns, referencing historical pattern types, along with two short cut paper animations.
Juried Ceramic Exhibition
Peep Show Exhibition
Elective Works & Personal Projects
Accepted into the Pictoplasma Portrait Gallery for the Pictoplasma Festival - Berlin, Germany, travelling in September to Monterrey, Miexico.
Reflections in the Spring
This year has been one of the best, most challenging of my life. Moving into the un-
known, pushing myself to try new things and develop as an artist and human being. Prior to moving to Baltimore, I was a very shy, person who had difficulty in social situations. This time has taught me to be a professional, and to define myself. Though there have been many failures throughout this time at MICA, I believe they have enriched who I am as an artist, while also enabling me to strive for those moments of success. Remaining ever humble, I will always appreciate the feedback and support of my peers and instructors, and I hope to continue using their advice in the future.
Directions to Fly
While at this point in time my thesis is no more than a storm cloud of ideas, I have
begun reflecting upon my year in this program and started to dissect my strengths and weaknesses. Though I would have loved to have had more time to work on sculptural elements, I feel that this year of limiting myself has created an exponential growth within my two dimensional work, and given me directions in which to explore potentional jobs such a pattern making and card design. Though I know my thesis will involve my sculptural skills (and believe me, I am excited for the time to develop sculptures), I now feel much more confident in what I can achieve as an all around illustrator who is well versed in many media.
Thanks Whitney Sherman Jaime Zollars Stephanie Plunkett Joyce Schiller & all of the wonderful guest instructors and critics