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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Senioritis: Kelsey Cretcher

This is Kelsey. She's part of my Senioritis series, documenting my senior year as an illustration major at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Check back for other interviews and observations on art-studentry.

My classmate Kelsey Cretcher and I were talking the other day about our mutual affection for illustration. I mentioned how tiresome I find the perennial discussion about the supposed superiority of fine art over illustration. (As if the line between them is always crystal clear, by the way.)

We agreed that one of the beautiful qualities of illustration is how democratic it is. Illustration gives everyone access to art through newspapers and magazines, games, book jackets and T-shirts. That's part of why Kelsey loved it when, for class assignments, we had to design wine bottle labels and cereal boxes.

She has been known to reject a purchase she would otherwise make because there were bad drawings on the box.
"Packaging sways me," Kelsey says. "I DO judge a book by its cover."
This, then, is one of the things I like about Kelsey. (Note: To see Kelsey's wonderful art, visit her website.)
Like me, she arrived at the Cleveland Institute of Art as a transfer student in spring semester of 2009. Unlike me, she was fresh off a stint at Kent State, where, at the urging of her father, she had tried majoring in art education with the idea that it was practical choice.

She suspected this was a wrong path when, during the first session of a Methods & Materials class, the instructor lectured heavily on strategies for persuading principals and school boards that the art program was necessary and should be continued.

It wasn't that she'd been all that interested in art-ed anyway. As Kelsey says, "We were learning how to teach Picasso to 4-year-olds. I was more interested in making macaroni pictures with 4-year-olds."

Having found her rightful place as part of the CIA Class of 2012 Illustration majors, Kelsey now revels in making her own art. She's a ravenous reader who has been known to own more than one copy of a favorite book -- one for reading and one that must be in pristine shape. She finds art inspiration in the pulp magazine illustrations of the early- and mid-20th century, though she wants to add a 21st century sensibility.

And she's got a killer work ethic. Having arrived at CIA without any formal Photoshop training, she taught herself this complex software and has become someone who works almost exclusively in digital media, though she often starts with hand-done work.

Anyone who knows Kelsey also knows at least a little about her boyfriend, Harry. He's an engineering student at Case Western Reserve University. Together they get lost in fantasy and sci-fi movies and games, and once a week they go somewhere to try a new boutique beer. Harry has sensitized Kelsey's palate for the brew, she says, while she has introduced into their relationship a growing collection of books featuring images of beautiful women and pinup girls.

Get a few beers into Kelsey, and she's likely to go on about her habit of immediately analyzing the aesthetics of other women: what makes them beautiful, if they are, and or what about them makes them unattractive. She eyes them up in terms of things like proportions, and how certain features work with or fail to work with other features.

In fact, she says she objectifies other women in that she regards them, at first, as "walking pieces of art."
How does this affect her sexual preference?

It doesn't, she says. "I'm probably as straight as you can get," she says.
If you are a woman, and you find Kelsey staring your way, the question running through her mind is, "Do I want to draw you, not do I want to do you."

Kelsey spent 5 years as a part-time worker at Jo Ann, the fabric and crafts store. She credits the job for helping her develop a stronger sense of color, since she was surrounded by material and liked studying the palettes.
And she loved helping customers work out their plans.

"My favorite was when someone would come in with a (craft) idea, but they didn't quite know how to do it."


honey said...

i love kelsey despite never having met her.

my first studio was shared with a cia-er painter/printmaker who wouldn't dream of walking down a craft aisle at Jo Ann. after all, he was an artist.

fast forward to his uber successful biz of painting images for hand towels, calendars, greeting cards, and other tabletop decor. he's a genius artist who found out that he loved creating items for...well...crafters! his gift lines are the best (sez his proud mate, me).

fine art vs. illustration....hmmmmm.

loved this post...and your illustration!

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Actually, a lot of the great "fine" art is illustration-- many of my favorite pieces from the renaissance painters, for example.