This project would not be possible without the help of some key people –
They're the ones that infused me with a really strong work ethic and have enabled me to work on my art by providing a place to stay while in college for free. My mother has helped me on location numerous times throughout my art career, and I enjoy every time she comes downstairs to check on the laundry – and the sculptures. And my dad has always asked the critical questions that others probably wouldn't tell me. He has helped me make better, more concise work with his feedback.
Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood and Family
Jennifer has been my accountability and creative partner on claylist since day one. She has asked the questions that I never thought of and helped me formulate a plan to get this project done. We have spent many hours coming up with character ideas. She also puts up with all the direct messages I send her on Instagram to get her feedback (and I know she loves helping). I don't think that I would have started such a long project without having her along for the ride, regularly keeping me on my toes and working hard on the project. Additionally, her entire family has been exceptionally encouraging and uplifting when I was overwhelmed with work aside from claylist.
You don't like the theme of my project, but I imagine by the time ArtPrize rolls around, you will! Despite that, you have always loved the sculptures I have made and have been a big help in traveling to various places in the past for illustrations. The two of us have done too many ridiculous things just for a picture. Anyways, thanks for being a tough sell, because it will drive me to do the best work I have made so far.
Patrick was my first photography teacher. He almost made me cry in the second class session I had with him. He leaned over my shoulder at the computer and took the mouse to scroll through my photos. After looking through them silently, he sighed and said, "Jon, none of these are very good. I want you to go back out and reshoot them." I had shot over 300 photos and he told me they were no good. IT WAS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED. I hated being in that class until the last project when I presented clay illustrations for the very first time.
After presenting them, everyone loved them so much including Patrick and he told me: keep making them. So I have.
Honestly, you were ridiculously nice – but you gave me photo assignments that were extremely time consuming. It was because I had to put so much time into going places that I slowed down and made sure to get exactly what I wanted. I did a lot of experimenting with different techniques in Photoshop that you introduced me to. I'm incredibly thankful for the open learning environment of your classes. Plus, you have been nagging me to do a multimedia entry to ArtPrize, so this year's entry is very much influenced by you.
For being another extremely influential photography professor. I don't think you ever said anything as critical as Patrick said to me, but I was always afraid to be a recipient of "the stare". The classes I took with you always made me strive to do better work daily – and I personally disliked being in the darkroom, but I always wanted to present something to you that you'd be intrigued by. Thanks for the motivation, and for shouting "WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU!" at me – because I am a little deranged.
I never got the chance to take any of your classes or sit in for any of your after class demos, but we had one conversation that impacted me tremendously. You said you liked my work, but the prints I entered into ArtPrize – just wasn't doing it for you. You told me that sticking to prints was seriously limiting my work. Your idea was to make a jumbo book with prints – or do anything really that would get people to interact with the art. I really hope you are able to see claylist during ArtPrize.
We met one time during portfolio review day. I was expecting a five minute interview, and you wound up talking to me for twenty-five minutes. There was a lot of positive feedback, but you gave me some really solid criticism about not having enough depth to my clay photographs and about increasing the foreground elements. Ever since I took that to heart, the illustrations I make have so much more detail and believability.
And to all the people I meet daily that make me laugh and inspire me to make more illustrations.
See you at DeVos Place September 23!