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October 04, 2016

Becoming a visual storyteller

Becoming a visual storyteller

Q + A with Illustration major Ado Adognravi

How did you choose your major?
I had always been interested in telling stories visually. I had been reading a lot of comic books, and I wanted to branch out and try some different things. In doing my research and looking at different colleges, I found that CIA had an Illustration Department, and not just graphic design or drawing. That really drew me here.

How has the faculty helped you develop as an artist?
The faculty have been really great. They are so involved with each student. Their dedication to students is something I hadn’t really experienced before. In high school, your teachers are kind of these distant figures. But here, they actually become sort of your friends. That is really amazing to me that you can develop that kind of relationship with your professor.

What does it mean to have your own studio space?
It’s amazing. Having this gigantic desk, and drawers and things where you can keep all your stuff, it really helps you with trying to experiment with what you want to make. I had never really worked larger than 8 ½-by-11 before, and then the first assignment of sophomore illustration year was some gigantic 24-by-something project. And I was like, “Oh, my god, this is so big!” But now I have a gigantic desk that I can tilt up. And I have all of this space to keep my tools. And the fact that the buildings are open so late — you can really get in the zone and work on something for a really long time.

How have you progressed as an artist these past four years?
Looking back, I have improved so much. In the beginning, I was OK with drawing and some character design things. But freshman year really helped me branch out with the foundation classes. The most important classes I had were the drawing classes with Mike Meier and Christian Wulffen. Those two drawing classes really influenced my style of work. And then being in the Illustration Department, and being forced to constantly think about how good your composition is, and asking, “Does this make sense with the story?” and learning to try and use 100 percent of your skill set all of the time.

Tell us about your artist residency.
I have been part of a two-year artist-in-residence program at Judson Manor. Judson is a senior living community center. In exchange for living arrangements, (student) Morgan Sylvester and myself provided artist programming for the senior residents. They have had people from Cleveland Institute of Music, but we were the first people from CIA. We figured out our own programming and managed all of our interactions with the residents. It was a growing period and a really nice experience for us. We made so many great friendships with the seniors there. It’s kind of bittersweet leaving there now.

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