As a young girl, I recall my second-grade teacher asking the class what it was we wanted to be when we grew up. Twenty-one little hands shot up in the air, waiting for their turn to be called upon. When it was my turn, I simply said, “An author,” for I loved to read in my bedroom until all hours of the night. The following year, we were asked the same question. This time, my answer was: “A teacher,” because I admired my own. When I finally reached middle school, I discovered a world of marvelous things that I was able to unlock with my pencil and my sketchbook. As I fell in love with my ability to create something from the nothingness of a blank piece of paper, I knew I wanted to go to art school. I didn’t realize that as my dreams changed as I grew older, so would my lifetime goals. I now know that just as we are capable of having more than one love in our lives, we can also have multiple career goals. My ultimate goal now is not only to become a successful illustrator in the children’s book and children’s licensing markets, but to also to teach illustration at a local art college or university.
Illustrating books for children was my first goal when I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree at the University of Hartford in 2007. I was able to fulfill that dream and have since illustrated three picture books and contributed to several educational magazines and textbooks. I was also able to obtain an agent who helped me find freelance jobs, but I still had a deep desire to take my artwork to the next level. I could see that I had room to develop my characters, the human characters in particular. I hesitated to apply for graduate school because I did not think my work would measure up to that of my colleagues. I was fearful of putting my work up on a critique wall and having it verbally torn to pieces by my peers and mentors, who, this time, would be professional illustrators of the highest achievement. When I finally found the courage to apply and got in, I knew it was a chance to rebuild my portfolio as well as my career.
.....to be continued