Replacing the Sun? Thesis Exhibition

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Feeling a mixture of accomplishment and a little sadness to see the show come down and prepare for graduation. I wanted to make one last post on this blog about the thesis exhibition. Here’s an excerpt from my thesis paper:

I wanted my exhibition space in the gallery to feel inviting and intimate. Three components make up the display. A mural approximately 6×9 feet long invites viewers into the space. I used pages 2-3 from my comic in the mural because the pages include both Codey and the Wyoming landscape, which are central to establishing the story’s setting and tone. Within the mural, a panel depicts Codey observing the landscape, her thoughts written above. The mural also shows the landscape that Codey is contemplating, inviting viewers into her perspective and immediately establishing that the project is a narrative work.

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A shelf contains the central component of my thesis project, the book itself. I didn’t want the book to seem like a precious object to be handled with care. Offering multiple copies allowed readers to pull the books from the shelf and flip through the pages freely. The book is a small paperback that can be held easily in one hand, something that could be thrown in a backpack or perused while curled up in a corner somewhere. (A lot of copies went missing during the exhibition, haha.)

The final component is a log bench. Meant to appear as if it could be a prop from the comic, it also serves as a sitting area for visitors to read the comic, complete with a hand-made quilt for added coziness. An accompanying pine log along the floor—left over after building the bench—brings a literal piece of nature into the space and serves as an additional element to further relate the bench, mural, and comic to each other.

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On to the next adventure!

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The Cover

What a relief to be finished with the gallery install and opening reception! I’ll have some documentation and thoughts on that soon, but I wanted to do a quick post about the cover. The cover art is kinda special to me because I based it on one of the first sketches I made when I was thinking about potential thesis projects.

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The sketch, although rough and full of drawing errors, captured a sense of questioning and wonder. When I made this sketch I thought “yes, this is a character I can tell a story about!”

When it came time to develop the cover art, it seemed a no-brainer to revisit that moment.

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Regardless of what our experience or beliefs are, we’ve all had that moment where we’ve stared up at that big-ass night sky and wondered “What the hell is it all about?”

 

Book is done!

The books are in production! I got a proof for my graphic novel the other day, and it looks great. I had to make some compromises due to costliness and time, but I think the end product is still great.

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The colors for the interior pages looks great, which I was worried about because of some tricky lighting and night scenes. Fortunately the troubleshooting and adjusting I did before printing paid off, and I didn’t have to tweak any of the pages (which NEVER happens—thank you art gods, lol).

Just started the week of install. Already making so many changes. I ended the first day by dragging this log into the gallery, which I literally took from a random felled tree by OSU. I hope it doesn’t have termites!

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2/13 Crit

In crit today I’ll be presenting my finished spread that I intend to hang on the wall, as well as some samples of the materials I plan to use for the wall print and booklet. I’m primarily looking for feedback on how to present/install my work for the exhibition, since I’ll need to start printing a lot of these materials soon.

It’s exciting to see everything start coming together. I was looking back at some older concepts I did and was surprised how many things have changed since that first test page I made.

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Character designs
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Thumbnail sketch
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Finished color spread!

 

Day 1 thumbnails complete!

I finished sketching the layouts for Day 1! 63 pages total. Plus I’ll need to figure out a cover and title design. I have until about mid-March to get it all done, so strap in for even more drawings to come!

Everyone has given some great feedback, both in class critiques and mentor meetings. I have all my notes collected and have been systematically going through the pages and applying the changes. I should be done with revisions this week and will start some final pages and character designs.

Here are some of my favorite page spreads so far.

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Critique #2 Response

Took me a while to get around to writing a response to my second critique, as I didn’t really know how to feel about how it went. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a clear process for how to critique or present written work in Seminar class. I have some ideas on how to solve that problem outside of Seminar. But with Seminar class, I think I’ll stick to bringing more visual-based work from now on. It shouldn’t be a huge problem, as I plan to have thumbnail pages by next critique. The writing and art should be a bit more integrated and easy to digest, so to speak.

I did bring some visual material to class, namely a test page where I was exploring level-of-finish and potential color palettes. Kinda surprised that no one so far seems to mind the “sketchiness” of the page, which makes me think I can work fairly loosely on the comic if I want and still get a clear read. Honestly, I think it would look nice—I tend to get a little too uptight when I reach the polishing stage of a project.

 

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These were the two color ways people liked best. I’m currently leaning towards the more colorful version, but I’m gonna stew on it for a bit while I work on thumbnails.

 

It’s Thesis. It’s THESIS TIME.

It’s time to tackle the longest undertaking of my life (with the exception of a long-term dependency on a game called Stardew Valley, but we won’t discuss that today).

I’ll be making a graphic novel about the unique challenges that young adults face who are coming-of-age in a sheltered religious community. The story will be targeted to a young adult audience, roughly 12-18 yrs old.

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The story takes place over one week, during a pioneer trek. Every year, hundreds of Mormon youth flock to Wyoming to reenact part of the journey of the Mormon handcart pioneer companies. This involves a lot of bonnets and suspenders, and of course, handcarts. The teens hopefully walk away feeling spiritually renewed and grateful to the Mormon pioneers of the past.

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My graphic novel revolves around three characters, experiencing differing struggles with their faith. Codey: the non-believer. Eli: the devout believer. Natalie: the conflicted believer. This story isn’t meant to comment specifically on faith (don’t want anyone who reads this to think they’re gonna be preached at one way or the other). The focus is on these characters learning how to form and maintain relationships with each other as their lives lead them down different paths. LIFE SKILLS. So much life skills.

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Some rough concepts for the characters.

Also, the story might cut between the modern-day youth trek and the historical account of a pioneer, a narrative that plays out in Codey’s imagination as a space for her to process her feelings about religion, and her consequently complicated relationships with those around her. I’ll have some ideas (and a scripted scene) to float by you all tomorrow… See you then!