We're so excited about teaming with MICA's (Maryland Institute College of Art) illustration department for each of our show's poster designs.  Students in one of the classes are given the assignment of designing a poster for one of our shows as part of their professional development.  MICA student Erin Kubo is the illustrator behind this past season's Holiday Heap poster! 

We had the pleasure of interviewing Erin to learn more about the student behind our very first BUZZ poster design:

Where are you from?

I’m from Lebanon, a small town nestled between the forests and farmlands of Jersey (they exist!).  There’s a lot of horses and corn.  It’s a good place.  

What year are you at MICA?

I’m now in my senior year.  

What is your major ?

I’m an illustration major with a minor in Art History.

How did you decide on your major?

I’ve always loved telling stories through my artwork, and once I experienced real illustration assignments at MICA, I realized that I also relished the challenge of trying to quickly and effectively communicate a very specific message through an image.  I love the fine arts too, but there is a straightforward problem-solving focus in Illustration that I find both comforting and exciting. 

 Can you tell us about how you created the poster?

I started with a pencil sketch and used photoshop and watercolor swatches to plan out the illustration.  I painted the majority of the piece in watercolor, then added some areas of flat color, line-work, and hand-lettering in photoshop.

Whatmethods do you use in your work- hand drawing, painting, a combination of many techniques?

Almost all of my illustrations are made with a mixture of traditional and digital processes.  I usually sketch and draw line-work on paper, and then scan it in and finish it off in photoshop.  It seems to be the fastest way to finish a piece for me, and I enjoy the combination of traditional textures with bright and bold digital color!

How did you develop your idea for the poster from initial sketches to final piece?

When I thought of BUZZ, I imagined a sort of lively “hive” of creative activity.  I played with some other ideas focusing on tools or crafts themselves, but in the end I chose to concentrate on the community aspect of BUZZ.  I actually ended up painting this piece twice; at first the color palette was all over the place, which unfortunately ended up looking a bit unsophisticated.  In order to improve the piece, I condensed the color palette down to just three colors and repainted it. It was a tough decision, but it was worth it in the end! 

 To date what have been some of your favorite projects to work on?

I enjoy doing projects in the realm of book illustration and comics.  Right now I’m working on my thesis project, which is a short original graphic novel.  It’s been both extremely challenging and rewarding to tell my own weird little story.

What are some of your favorite themes/subjects to illustrate? 

People!  I love to draw diverse people and characters, mainly cool ladies with bad attitudes.  I also like drawing magical environments, all manner of goblins and ghouls, and sunny spaces.  The actual subject matter of my art varies drastically, but in general I hope to portray things that are intriguing, lively, and evocative of some dreamlike childhood memory you had forgotten about for years.  

If you had to list some dream projects/clients what would they be?

I kind of want to get my nubby little hands into every kind of illustration I can at this point, but I’d say my biggest dream is to have my sequential illustrations published by a company like NoBrow or Fantagraphics. 

Where/what/who do you look for inspiration?

So many illustrators from my generation grew up captivated by Hayao Miyazaki’s films, and I’m no different.  The sense of mood, rich environments, and the emphasis on human connection in his films have stuck with me throughout my life.  Certain other contemporary Japanese artists like Yoshitomo Nara and Aya Takano are also huge inspirations.  I love artwork that combines dreamlike nostalgia and childhood joy with more serious and timeless subject matter.

 When you are not working on illustration projects or other classes for school what are some things you enjoy doing?

Cooking is a huge source of relaxation for me.  I don’t get to do it much during the school year because of time restraints, but during the past few summers I’ve deeply enjoyed bulking up my simmering skills, chopping techniques, etc. I also like taking walks and finding strange abandoned objects throughout the city.  My friend Jennifer and I have a funny little personal project where she takes a picture of me holding whatever weird thing we find on the ground during our walks.  We call it #FoundAroundTown.  

How can we see more of your work or find out more about your upcoming projects? 

I’m working on my portfolio website now, and it should be up shortly at erinkubo.com!  Right now, that url leads to my art tumblr, where I post sketches, personal projects, homework, and other cool stuff!