Lisa French pulled off her first coup as Program Director of NESADSU’s new BFA program in Illustration by presiding over the opening reception of her Illustrious Alumni exhibition on Friday evening, April 20th. Perhaps it’s her second coup. The first may have been locating a significant number of NESADSU graduates who, despite the fact that they majored in other disciplines, are now making their names as illustrators.
Alumni from 1968 to 2011 presented work that ranged from children’s book illustration to editorial to the graphic novel, with stops at traditional and digital animation, storyboarding, fantasy and science fiction, syndicated comics, and body illustration along the way. Illustrious Alumni Catalog (PDF)
Of the seventeen artists who took part in the exhibition, eleven were on hand to receive the plaudits of the guests (most of the rest live far out of state). Some you’ve seen in the pages of & Then before, like John Roman (Graphic Design 1971), whose illustrated maps are well known to the Suffolk community; in fact one of them is of the Suffolk community. Another, of Colonial-era Concord, MA demonstrated perfectly John’s fine command of the pen, with an evocative look at what is now a sprawling town much larger than that depicted here. The work of Scott Hill (General Art 1979) was featured in a Feedback column in the spring 2010 issue, while that of Daniela Wong-Chiulli (Graphic Design 2007) and James Kraus (Graphic Design 1982) adorned the announcement of the new Illustration program in the fall 2010 issue. Mauro Maressa (Fine Art 1969), with his, at the time, co-worker at Disney, John Norton, was profiled in the spring 2003 issue, though Mauro is now enjoying retirement and the time to pursue his other artistic interests. Most of the others have been the subjects of class notes at one time or another, though “live” is, of course, much nicer.
The Illustrious Alumni, in total, were:
Bill Bradbury (Advertising 1968)
Gary Destramp (General Art 1978)
Joe Farnham (Graphic Design 1980)
Kseniya Galper (Graphic Design 1999)
Craig Harrison (Graphic Design 1984)
Prescott Hill (General Art 1979)
Alice (Mooney) Imeson (Graphic
James Kraus (Graphic Design 1982)
Mauro Maressa (Fine Art 1973)
Max Martelli (Fine Art 2011)
Bob Ostrom (Graphic Design 1985)
Bruce Ozella (Graphic Design 1978)
John Roman (Graphic Design 1974)
Karin (Santos) Samatis (Graphic Design/Fashion Illustration 1977)
Barclay Shaw (Fine Art 1978)
Velicia (Gourdin) Waymer (Fashion Illustration 1982)
Daniela Wong-Chiulli (Graphic Design 2007)
The thing that makes most alumni events fun is finding out what everyone is up to. Besides those mentioned above, we talked with Craig Harrison, who came from northern Vermont with his new wife, Anna, and their five-year-old son Moses. Craig is still involved with the bicycle business and his work on display included advertising and sports apparel design, though he also handles book cover illustration and art and design for television commercials, along with art direction and event work.
Bill Bradbury and Gary Destramp, though in classes at NESAD ten years apart, have studio space in the same building and both spent time at the Lowell Sun. Bill does a lot of caricature and comic strip work, while Gary is primarily, though not exclusively, an editorial illustrator. Joe Farnham, now an in-house artist with Trader Joe’s, doing illustrated signage and murals, is also working on a compilation of his work of 25 years of old-time baseball illustrations.
Alice (Mooney) Imeson continues to illustrate the rich and famous through caricatures and editorial portraits, for such publications as the Los Angeles Times, National Review, Seattle Times and Warner Brothers. She had also had solo shows in Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle and has recently submitted her work to The New Yorker.
Light years away is the latest work by Kseniya Galper, illustrations for a graphic novel, called Zero, written by Jan Egleson. The novel has been published by Vook, a publisher specializing in interactive books for the iPad (and available online through iTunes). In addition to this project, Kseniya also does traditional figure painting and drawing, digital collage and illustration, and other forms of visual expression.
A real departure was Velicia (Gourdin) Waymer’s body illustration, here, as often, using as a canvas her daughter Bri. Velicia also exhibited exquisitely decorated masks, demonstrating a range of applications for her design skills. More traditionally, at least in the work he chose to submit, were Max Martelli’s paintings done for music and book covers. Though only out of school since last May, Max has already established a thriving illustration practice, doing album and comic book covers, as well as fantasy and science fiction illustration for gaming and comics.
Barclay Shaw and Karin (Santos) Samatis were at NESAD at about the same time but their work has taken very different turns. Karin, who also does graphic design work, specializes in storyboarding for television commercials and film, as well as presentation comps for advertising. She came to the opening with husband, Bill, who is also a NESAD grad (1977), the only non-Italian member of the famous NESAD “mob” of the 1970’s and a designer in his own right. Barclay, on the other hand, is well known for his science fiction and fantasy art, with more than 500 book and magazine covers to his credit, including 16 cover illustrations for Harlan Ellison paperbacks, including some by Isaac Asimov and Larry Niven. He now freelances for several governmental and defense agencies, such as the U.S. Army and the National Reconnaissance Office, as well as for private sector clients. See more at http://www.barclayshaw.com.
Bob Ostrom, who currently lives in North Carolina, has been working as an illustrator since shortly after graduation. Beginning with a Framingham toy company, his work has since appeared in over 200 children’s books and publications. Bruce Ozella has been a graphic designer and illustrator for over 32 years and now enjoys drawing “Vintage Popeye” comic books for Idea & Design Works Publishing.
After the exhibiting alumni had had a chance to mingle with each other, the faculty and staff present, and other guests, they headed down the hallway to hear award-winning illustrator, historian and educator (Director of the University of Hartford’s Limited Residency MFA program in Illustration) Murray Tinkelman give an overview of American illustration. According to Velicia Waymer, “Mr. Tinkelman was a wealth of information and thoroughly a ‘pip’ as my grandmother would have said! He gave me plenty to Google on the way home and much to chew on as I plan my next ‘illustrative’ steps.”
According to NESADSU Chairman Bill Davis, who has been with the school since 1971 and, so, knew each exhibitor personally, “As this exhibition shows, NESADSU has been cultivating successful illustrators for decades. They went out into the world, well-prepared for fields such as Graphic Design, Fine Arts and Fashion Illustration, but a passion for picture-making led these NESADSU alums to make their marks as illustrators in all kinds of places, from publishing to animation, from advertising and packaging to licensed merchandise. With this exhibition, we are honoring their legacy and celebrating the potential of all future Illustration alumni we hope will follow in their path.”
Illustration Program Director Lisa French has surely made a positive impression in her first academic year at NESADSU and this exciting exhibition is proof of that. As Lisa says, “I’m so glad that the exhibition, reception and catalogue were so well received and so successful. It was wonderful to meet the alumni involved and their enthusiasm for NESADSU is obvious. The have very positive feelings for the school. I’m also so pleased that the exhibition catalogue shows such a wide range of exhibition-related work. This will certainly be a nice sample to show new and prospective Illustration majors. All of this has reinforced my good feelings about being part of this institution.”
Note: NESADSU only very rarely mails invitations to events. Most such events appear on the appropriate NESADSU blogs (e.g. Graphic Design or Interior Design, the alumni blog & Then or the Fine Arts blog of student Holly Coutu) or, sometimes, are announced via email. For the former, go to the NESADSU website (http://www.suffolk.edu/nesad) and click on “blogs” in the upper left corner; for the latter, please be certain we have a current email address for you (to update, please email Sara Chadwick at email@example.com.
Images Courtesy of Molly Akin