Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Silas Kaufman

Student Profile - 4th Year Illustration Student ACAD
Education: ACAD 92-96, BFA. UofC 98-00, Bed.

What was the project?
Process book documenting Skaters I’ve known since the late 80’s.

What was your objectives or goals with this project?
The main focus I had while drawing was to find my voice in the visual sense. I wasn’t concerned about any narrative. Narrative for me was just a vehicle to travel through potential styles of drawing. This project afforded me the luxury to do this and I am grateful for that.

Describe your process?
I get up in the morning and quickly finish my chores and then draw my guts out. Sometimes life gets in the way of drawing, but I try to stay focused on my illustration and design work. I begin with line drawings to warm up and then move into colour and paint. My mediums vary depending on the project. Right now I’m focused on pen and watercolour. I still struggle a little with digital media but I’m vastly improved compared to my first attempts.

What did you enjoy the most about the project?
Getting the green light to explore. Drawing little line portraits on big marker paper. It was hell to scan in the end, but worth it.

Were there any breakthroughs or milestones?
Oh yes! I painted these landscapes with watercolour and then I drew random line portraits of skaters over top. This came to me out of necessity, as the reference material I was using did not align with the landscape. So I was forced into an honest approach of graphitizing my own work with line drawings. I was surprised at how well it worked. It brought a sense of memory to the work that I was pursuing form the start. I’m very happy I arrived there.

Anything you will explore further?
I am currently working on a graphic novel that insists on being more narrative with the visual style I was using in the previous project (the process book). I’m going to explore the graphitizing of my own work, but I’m saving it up for a visual punch when the story climaxes. Until then I’ve been punishing myself with pointillism. The result is great but the time investment is huge! Yikes!

Why did you go to art school in the first place?
You’d never believe it, but I went because someone told me that it was the last day to register at ACA (back in 1992 it was called ACA) for classes. I asked how much it cost to register and they said it was 15 bucks and I had 15 bucks in my pocket. So I skated over to the college and registered. I had no plan back then. I just took opportunities as they came to me, the whole idea of going to art school was hilarious to me so I just dove in.

What made you choose to come back to school?
I was working part time at the Con Ed department teaching kids classes at ACAD when I found out that I could get free credit courses offered through Con Ed. So I decided to take the first year design class, out of interest partly, but mostly because it was another random opportunity that crossed my path. From the very first class I was hooked. Alison Miyauchi was a ruthless teacher who demoted me right from the start. She blasted all my ideas and told me that I was next to hopeless. I loved it. No one had ever challenged me that way. I’d always been given praise for having good drawing skills, but Alison kicked my ass to a higher level. For years to follow all I could think about was to come back and take design and illustration.

What are your future goals/dreams?
I need to pursue a career in illustration it’s now my dream, it’ll be tough but I’m feeling confident. I also need to travel and see the world outside of Calgary. My wife wants to start a family soon so I imagine I’ll be heading back to teach part time so she can focus on the little dude once he or she shows up. But before that we’re going to travel together. I wouldn’t be where I am now without all of her support and sacrifice. My wife rules in everyway, she’s even an equal or better drawer than I am and she could easily fill my shoes at ACAD and go on to world fame.

Have you approached art school differently this time around?
Absolutely! Oh man back in the 90’s I thought of art school as a side project to my social life. I just relied on my drawing talent to get me by, but I had no plans for success. I watched others who may not have had the talent I had but they had the drive I lacked. I’ve watched them surpass me in the visual arts because they worked so much harder than anyone else. The old saying “you get out what you put in” is so true. This time around I force myself to be driven, to work harder than anyone around me. It’s not a competitive thing, I just have the luxury of hindsight to understand what it will take to succeed.

Any questions or advice you would ask other graduates?
Yes, I need to know how they’re making a go of it in the industry. I never tire of hearing how they succeed and fail in the real world. It’s always cool when they come into our classes and give a talk. It’s very useful for us students to hear what they have to say.

What is rewarding about art school?
The next assignment is always rewarding it’s like getting a new puzzle or toy.