REFLECTION | ARS VISUAL CULTURE

It feels rather strange re-introducing myself. I remember the first day attending the New School, I had to write a short biography about myself and what exactly I aspire to be. After being here for three amazing years, with one more to precede me, I feel confident in the work I’ve been constantly delivering as of late.

My name is Jo Roman, I am currently in the Illustration program with a concentration in Animation and Motion Graphics, and am enjoying the rest of my Junior year here. I was born and raised in Corona, Queens, New York. I am mostly interested in story-telling, and creating graphic novels, books and animations that can communicate important messages not only to the younger generation but to adults as well.

The art that I create revolves around story-telling and environment building. I mainly like to design characters that people can engage with and relate to. A lot of my characters are either animals, fictional humans or anthropomorphic creatures. Growing up, I’ve always had a connection to cartoons that showcase imagined environments, storylines and characters, but still effectively reflect our every-day social, cultural and political issues. Alongside these themes, I also explore experimental approaches to the work that I make. Sometime I will do abstract illustration work, while at other times I will focus on illustrating content based on my other interests, such as the music world, the way we interpret emotions and mannerisms, human interaction, color explorations and much, much more.

Some of the aesthetic values that are injected into my work trace back to my affinity of the analog age and nostalgia. A majority of my characters are placed in a universe that reflect on the historical documentation of the 20th century, like different eras and historical events. I am always borrowing this to accentuate my storylines and make them as accurate as possible. If anything, historical fiction is what describes my work in the graphic narrative. For my other works, I utilize older methods of art making. When I want to make something feel a little bit more vintage or older for animation, I hand draw on a light table and scan in traditional works, or give it a go at cel-animation and hand-paint/illustrate intricate backgrounds. Hand-making my products also gives my work some sort of tangibility (like making prints, sewing and making hand-made wearables and products), and gives it a sort of human connection when distributing.

What I use is very conventional. Although it is fun to splurge on expensive art product, it’s nice to use a pencil, colored pencils, crayons, almost ANYTHING that can make a mark on a page. I primarily use pencils and ink pens for finished illustration work on paper (rainbow pencils are really fun too and add dimensions to sketches). For animation, I use Photoshops and am getting to know After Effects better, to put together my individual traditional files, or just animating right into these programs. Referencing the previous paragraph, I love using outdated approaches to creating my work. Instead of mass production for prints and my work, I try to keep everything as handmade as possible, like running illustrations I make through the risograph, or scanning my final works onto nice papers. With the materials I have, I try to use a variety in my day to day observational sketches and note taking. Constant experimentation for me is key, and sometimes it doesn’t even pertain to my illustration/animation work! Whether it be painting designs onto furniture, constructing different 3-dimensional objects, working on my film photography, or picking up new instruments to play with, this all is integrated into the work that I make for myself and the public.

The art that I’ve been making, for the longest time, has been for my own entertainment and escape from the realities life present. I’ve struggled with emotional problems growing up because of family detachment and harassment through schooling. Once I got to Parsons, I was able to find my place in the art world not only as something to occupy myself, but something to immerse myself in. Ultimately, all the work I create relates to my life experiences, and experiences that have been shared to me by others. I think it’s wonderful that we are able to grow from the positives and negatives in life. I’m always thankful for the situations I’ve been in because they’ve shaped me to be a better person, and a much more imaginative and open artist. The work I also make, is supposed to be for my audience. I love to create immersive worlds, environments, and super unique characters that people can relate to and delve into. Nothing is more important than having a creative escape especially in the imaginative world. It allows you to think freely and with ease, imaginatively.

I have an infinite amount of goals, the goals I have pertaining to my art/design profession come first of course. I aspire to be an animator, colorist, storyboard artist and maybe work for a publishing company. There’s so much I want to do, but the first three occupations are what I’m aiming towards. During the summer, I want to land a couple of internships to hone my skills and garner experience, and then I would like to continue to do paid internships until I find somewhere to settle in the art world. My goals are to make it to the West coast and work at some independent animation companies, I am currently interested in Cartoon Network and Titmouse Studios.

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