Sawyer Rippon (Class of 2023)

Blogger Role: Animation

Major: Illustration

Minor: Animation

Clubs: Delta Epsilon Sigma; Tau Sigma Delta; National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS)

I chose Marywood because I wanted to better my artistic abilities and widen my creative knowledge so I could improve my art. I remember initially finding the professionality of the studio space to be intimidating; I draw funny cartoons with little dudes in them, so entering a refined place with such incredible artists as my classmates felt imposterous to me. Yet once I arrived, I always found that environment and those people immensely inviting; it encouraged my confidence to show up as I was and create the art I enjoyed.

I am majoring in Art because I like cartoons! I think cartoons are fun; and I’ve tried iterating that thought in itself differently— or, at least— in a more studied or poetic manner of speaking— but it’s that similarly simplistic earnestness that attracts me to cartoons (i.e. animation, comics, design, etc.) so fervently. Art connects to truths that would be counterintuitive to state outright; cartoons bring that ethos closer to a further conclusion by abstracting the reality that those truths exist within so it may more intently convey its emotion. In effect, cartoons create something that may underplay or negate reality in the pursuit of honesty. Cartoons typically accomplish this honesty very personally, particularly in their fixation on style, which implicitly reveals the personality and priorities of the artist; moreover, this spotlighting of style and aesthetics, to me, brings the more humanistic aspects of art to the forefront. I find the most enjoyment in art that can draw you into its world while never covering the hand(s) of the artist— hands that create worlds while preserving the silent kindness that it’s a world someone cares about enough to craft. For me, the importance of art lies in its earnestness and ability to connect with its audience with emotional honesty— put more simply, I like cartoons; and I hope to make others feel that same joy.

When I’m not in class, I’m still working on various projects — for my portfolio, an assignment, or even just for myself. Additionally, I have recently been trying to make more of an effort to experience new art (animation, music, comics, etc.) that I find inspiring or intriguing — leading to both the expansion of my artistic knowledge and vocabulary and my fervent love of UPA’s filmography. Nonetheless, I enjoy making things — cartoons, writing, illustrations, etc. — and dedicating myself to solving the puzzle that each project presents, which is made especially exciting when the pieces fit in ways they preconceptionally shouldn’t.

For me, the importance of art lies in its earnestness and ability to connect with its audience with emotional honesty.

So far, my favorite art class at Marywood was my General Illustration II (ART-422B) during my third year. Whether from the material/projects, the professor, or the encouragement of my classmates and friends, I feel during this class, I began grasping what artistic priorities I held in my work. Whereas prior courses had prepared my foundational art skills (figure drawing, color theory, composition, etc.), General Illustration II became a playground where I could start experimenting and building on top of that foundation; it grew my confidence as an artist to have that environment where I could lean into my style and be encouraged to go even further. It was exciting: I found myself completing assignments before they were even assigned because I was so inspired to keep working; it really lit something in me as I started noticing what I was about as an artist and what I enjoyed making, with my sharing that experience with such a like-minded, kind, and supportive friends making it even more fun.

The coolest thing I’ve done at Marywood so far was completing the outline for a comic book! I recently did this as part of my Book Illustration (ART-424) course — though truthfully, making my own comic has been something I have wanted to do for a while but have always waved it off until I felt I had more experience. But with the opportunity of that class, I revisited a story that I left on the shelf a year ago, and I simply started working on it— fully committing to seeing the idea to its completion and fullest potential. Even though it seemed like a daunting undertaking, I had such an enthralling time working on the project that I breezed through writing and storyboarding a 66-page comic in about a week or two. Similarly to entering Marywood’s studio space for the first time, making a comic appeared to be such a serious and intimidating endeavor until I trusted myself enough to try it — only to find I was ready the whole time. Since handing in the outline, I’ve continued working on the comic in my own time— designing the characters, developing the world, and really loving the experience.

When I graduate, I want to go to graduate school for an MFA in animation; afterward, I hope to enter television animation as a storyboard artist and go on to become the showrunner/creator for an animated series. Animation has always had such an important place in my life, and I look forward to learning more about and pursuing it further professionally. Additionally, I would love to continue making comics; I’ve found the medium particularly apt to tell more personal stories, so I’m inspired to continue in that direction. In other words, I want to continue working as a cartoonist, and I’m excited to see what comes of that.

I’d recommend the Art program at Marywood because I feel that I have become a more confident artist through my time in this program. Of course, everyone else here— professors and students alike— continues to inspire me not just in their artistic output but also in their kindness and endearing personalities; it has also been wonderful having the opportunity to utilize the studio space, as well. Moreover, I feel that, during my time here, I’ve grown to understand more of what I want to say through my work; I have gained the creative diction and experience to better express myself and my ideas.

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