The Cubby Blog
A box of uncooked elbow macaroni and a bottle of Elmer’s glue sat in my scrawny seven-year-old hands: this is where it all began. On a Sunday afternoon in a matter of hours, those pieces of pasta transformed into a scene beneath the rooftop of a Payless shoebox. Nothing gave me greater excitement as a child than to have the word “project” leave my teacher’s mouth. Dioramas and papier-mâché and scrapbooks and spray paint; I had the chance to pour my tiny, little heart into every craft and creation.
Construction paper and macaroni warriors turned into something more the day I walked through the doorway of Room 303. Mr. Sacco, an exuberant teacher filled with a passion for art, opened up to me a world of acrylics, oils, charcoals and pens. I was able to transform my affinity for projects into action here. Day by day, as my age and shoe size grew, so too did my love for the colors and shadows that appeared on a canvas. Galaxies swirled under my brush, speckled with constellations of watercolors. Chameleons perched upon a branch of colored pencil, concealed by the emerald leaves of the Amazon. Fantasy worlds could come to life in a single stroke
Now here we are today - a girl lost in the turbulent days of college. School and part-time jobs and homework and… a pandemic? Some days are repetitive and draining, but there are others of immense joy. And it’s not a coincidence that those days are usually the ones filled with art. When I sketch or paint, I get to travel back to the quiet, coolness of Room 303 or to the safe, serenity of my kitchen table at home. Through art, I forget the humdrum of reality.
How lucky am I to have found something so special? But really, how lucky am I to have people in my life that keep me going at it? I owe it to my mom and dad who’ve saved every one of my hodge-podged “beauties” from kindergarten and beyond. Thank you to my childhood art teachers who have shown me the way. My closest friends and the strangers on the street who support me with kind words and through my art business - they mean everything. And here’s to you. I hope you discover your own spark. Whether it be through chess matches or film photography, the stock market or knitting that scarf - I hope you too can find an escape and make it your own!
My Journey as an Illustrator
I really did not begin art until late in high school. It has only been a few years since I began taking this seriously. I can even remember the exact moment I first began drawing. I wish I had an amazing story to follow this, like something of a grand moment from which I suddenly had a new found passion for art. But not really. I had floated through many different things, music, ballet, theater, sports- and was not particularly good at anything. I was in my choral class, and had some spare time at the end before heading out to my next class. I had an old sketchbook in my backpack and suddenly thought about what would happen if I suddenly dedicated myself to this, and began doodling on the risers. I still have that same drawing in my storage shelf somewhere at home, although it definitely does not look as good as I remember it. From that moment on, I began filling sketchbook after sketchbook with drawing.
Within the same year, my art teacher took notice of the doodles I would draw in class, and encouraged me to submit my work out there. It is rare for an artist to never be critical of their own work, but the moment when I finally began to believe in myself a little was when a rather ugly work of mine (surprisingly!) won an award at a regional competition. Although I still insist it was the ugliest thing I had ever made (my high school art teacher still insists differently) It was the first time I had really actually won an award for anything. At this point, I thought, maybe I could get somewhere with this!
I joined my high school’s art endorsement, which was a focused visual arts track at my school for high school students, founded our school’s first art club, and involved myself as much as I could with studying art and art history at school and beyond the campus. Before graduating high school, my art teacher had given me a painting of his as a reward for all my work, and as a token of his appreciation. It is still one of my most cherished possessions.
Since going to university, life has been a whole different arena. A former architecture student, I once again realized my love for art after my first year.
Look at all that…architecture on the wall!
I would go to the MFA in Boston a couple times a week, to practice drawing and study the paintings there. As well, I got the opportunity to spend a month in Japan with my university’s art professor learning more graphic modes of work, and once I got back, began to take on some commissions, both personal and professional, for the first time. Sample Illustrations from Japan
As I began to build a portfolio of my art, my art professor at Northeastern had suggested that I apply abroad for a recent program at my university to attend Central Saint Martins, an arts and fashion school in London. I had gotten rejected on my first attempt, from which I redid my entire portfolio, and then got accepted!. Since then, I have gotten accepted on three separate occasions (as a result of having to reapply because of COVID).
Now, after almost two years of delays and rejections, I am currently in London! I have already been practicing a bit with some drawing and digital illustration since getting here, and although I am a bit nervous, I am very excited to begin at CSM this coming fall. Recent sample illustrations
I am very excited as well to share my more recent work for The Cubby, and hope to include more things on my online store soon. It has been a wild ride, but thank you all for your support! I hope to continue to create even greater things for the future!
My name is Gabriela Lehmann Rodriguez. I am one of the student artists who are a part of the Cubby website, working with a wide range of mediums from watercolors, to oil paints and digital illustration. I go to Northeastern University for animation and fine art, however currently, I am in London studying at a atelier and getting ready to begin my academic year in Central Saint Martins.
These past few months have been a new way of learning for me, and I am definitely not used to it. Once I improve more, I definitely would like to incorporate some of what I have learned into my own work.
Some of the cast drawings I have finished
How to Prepare for a Job in Creative Industries
So you love being creative and know you don’t want a conventional job but aren't sure where to start. Whether you’re an art major or you love making creative projects on the side, there is a place for you in the creative industry. You just have to know where to look and how to prepare. Many people think the only jobs for creative people are in the visual arts, but that’s not true. More jobs are popping up in creative advertising, marketing, and fashion industries that require a love of art and a creative mindset.
How do you prepare for these industries now?
Establish a Network
While it might sound obvious, who you know can be very important in many creative industries, especially if you are looking into the music and entertainment industries. The first place to establish a connection is by tapping into your school's alumni network. If you have a designated alumni portal, then definitely start there. However if your school does not provide a specific alumni portal, the next best place to look is Linkedin. Search your school then go to alumni, and then filter by profession and location.
It can be scary to direct message and connect with people you have never met. However, most alumni are super willing to help out! Here’s a sample script of what you can say:
“Hi _____ My name is ______ and I am a current __________ (class year) at _________ (school). I see that you work at _________ as a ________. If you have 15 minutes, I would love to hop on a call to learn more about your career path and experiences in __________ industry.”
Connecting with alumni can be extremely illuminating to learn how how someone can go from your school to that particular industry. More often than not, alums will go out of their way to help you either at their company, or will refer you to a company or person that they have connections with (but never lead with asking for this because you will not come across as genuinely interested!).
Build A Portfolio
Even if you don’t think you have much to present or display in terms of work, build a portfolio anyway! Throwing together a simple site that you can attach to your job applications and emails goes a long way. Maybe you’re really proud of the work you did for your last internship. Or you made a cool video for class that you want to share. Even the smallest of projects and designs can give potential employers a good idea of who you are and how you might fit into their company! “Taking the time to write and illustrate even one experience shows how invested you could be in their company
Sites to try:
If you have an Adobe account, they provide you with your own portfolio website!
Again, this one sounds obvious but is so important. Applying to the creative industries can be extremely daunting as they are so highly sought after, but neglecting to start the process won’t get you anywhere. One of the biggest pieces of advice I’ve ever received has been to just “make shit.” Like all the time.
If you’re passionate about making and editing videos then start a YouTube channel. Maybe you’re a photographer and you get your friends to help you create a project you’ve been wanting to do for a while. If you’re super into graphic design, make a zine! Collaborating with people at school, (even if you go to a school in a remote place or a school that may not have a focus in the arts) can be a really good way to figure out what kinds of creative work you like to do. Once you know what you like doing, it will make looking for jobs a lot easier.
Know Where to Look
Okay so you’re at the point where you know what you want to do but are not sure where to look. Hopefully these sites can help.
Best site for jobs in the entertainment industry:
Best site for jobs in Media/ Other creative industries:
Best site for jobs at startups:
Other common job platforms:
Linkedin, Glassdoor, Indeed, Google, Twitter
Go Easy on Yourself
Having a really hard time figuring out where to apply? Tired of getting rejected from different jobs? Don’t beat yourself up over it. The creative industries are incredibly hard to break into, so you’re not in this alone. Just keep creating and keep pushing for what you want. Even the largest of names started small!
Art Exercises to Stir Creativity
Stuck on what to create or looking for ways to challenge yourself creatively? Look no further! We’ve put together some some cool and spunky art exercises to challenge your artistic self. Try out some of these trends, techniques, and exercises to see what happens!
The only time spilling your coffee is a good thing
Coffee Art by Maria Aristidou
There are really only two steps to this one:
- Spill Coffee
- Go Nuts
You can try a couple of things to achieve some cool art. You can try tracing out the outline of the spill and turning it into something (kinda like how you can make clouds into shapes and things). You can also use the coffee spill as a background for another completely different piece. With a completely different outcome with every pour, this experimental exercise is great to let loose and see what happens!
Mini Canvas Collage
Your own mini gallery
You can really shift the guidelines of this idea. The gist is:
- Get numerous small canvases/sticky notes/small cuts of paper
- Set a timer that goes off every 15/30 seconds (or whatever time you want)
- Don’t think, just create!
In the end, you’ll have a collection of mini pieces that can fit together as a larger piece, a collage, a mini gallery, or whatever you want. The point is to not think and just draw whatever. Overthinking tends to lead to potential roadblocks. It’s similar to writer’s block, where a way to overcome it is by writing and not thinking about mistakes or logic. There’s time to be the writer, and time to be the editor, but not both at the same time.
A fun take on the classic symmetric butterfly from kindergarten
A symmetric painting collection by my roommate and I (Available on The Cubby!)
This one has a similar feel to the coffee spill, except instead of spilling coffee, you can take two canvases, pieces of paper, or fold a piece of paper (I mean you can try folding a canvas in half) with dripped paint to creative symmetric squished art. From there, you can let the paint dry and use that as a base for a creation, landscape, or anything you want. If the fold works well enough, that right there can be your art! It’s a great way to try out art styles where you’re not in complete control of what will happen!
Change Your Canvas
Art doesn’t just belong on paper
Sometimes it just takes a new perspective for new creations. Instead of trying to change your technique or common style of art, try creating on new, uncommon places. Some examples can be on a:
- Paper Towel Roll
- Door (if you have a door in your house you can use)
Look around you. The world is your canvas to innovate and spread passion, creativity, and uniqueness. Don’t let limitations hold you back from achieving greatness, or finding new ways of doing things. Hopefully these tips and exercises help you find new ways of doing what you love!