Category Archives: the institute

Pratt-related gossip and other news.

Students @Pratt Interview

photo credit – Tina Fey, my definition of success, ready for her close-up

Feel like being a success story? Then head on over to the Institute’s Career Services’ Pratt Success blog.  Not only did they just interview me about the Star Bright Books titles (as a Peer Counselor, I regularly contribute there so it’s not a big surprise…), but they also have TONS of great interviews and advice from Pratt alumni who are truly makin’ it in their fields.  I especially recommend watching the Career Coffee Break videos, and maybe getting yourself a cup of joe – and success – while you’re at it.


Will You Make It – Or Break It?

“Grandpa Tortoise had reached his goal”, from Little Bear At Work And At Play by Frances Margaret Fox. Hopefully our goals won’t take as long.  xoxo

What does it take to make it after graduation?

Is it talent?  Hard work?  Knowing the right people?  Dumb luck?

This post over at the Blue Rose Girls’ blog sparked a pretty fierce debate on the topic, and when I was reading it, the argument seemed to echo exactly what us seniors are on the brink of here at Pratt.

Once we leave our cozy little studios and take our portfolios and fresh, shiny faces out into the world, are we gonna get our dream career?  Or will we say, 25 years later, “I once wanted to be an artist…”  What separates the graduates who get fame, fortune, or just plain happiness?

Does it take talent?

It’s been my experience that once you hit the “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, top-tier art schools, talent becomes essentially a given.  I’m surrounded by talented illustrators in class every day, and yet, we all know that few of us will actually make it to be known for what we do.  I’m certainly not the most talented artist in my year, but I’m often asked these days whether I feel any competition. And you know what?  I don’t. Not because I don’t wish my classmates much more fame and success than me (I do!  Really!), but because I believe that I know exactly where I want to be, and I have worked my tail off to be in the position to enter my industry with confidence.

Is it hard work?

Can you work hard enough to get talent? In the words of Santino Rice from Project Runway Season 2, “you can’t polish a turd.”  There was many a slush piece at my internship this summer that had all the labor and care in the world put into it, but no amount of love could fix what was just . . . awful.

The scariest thought is that hard work won’t guarantee success either. I’ve watched with increasing nervousness as my absolutely genius older classmates have struggled to hit their stride, not due to their dedication, but because no matter how hard they try, they are not going to time-travel out of the recession.  It will just take time.

Is it “who you know”?

As much as I LOVE talking about networking, I’ll spare everyone and save it.  Networking can put you in the right place at the right time.  But if you don’t have hard work or talent, schmoozing won’t get you beyond that.

Is it luck?

With all the great timing I’ve been having with my career goals, I’ve wondered about luck a lot. Since I get a little funny around praise, I’ve actually caught MYSELF saying “oh, it’s nothing, I’m just lucky”.  But it’s awful to trivialize your success and the amount of hard work that it takes to get there!  I believe you make your own luck – by being talented, working hard and putting yourself out there.

Fall Survey – Semester’s OVER!

The sleepless nights, the stale cups of coffee, the 4 hour bonding sessions with the employees at the Print Center of Staples… it all led up to this:

As stressful as Survey was, it felt good to see everyone’s work culminated, polished and complete, in one show. And Senior Survey, unlike Sophomore and Junior Surveys, isn’t about the Communications Design department as a whole anymore – it’s about the individuals and their work. It’s almost a rehearsal for the big Spring Show… the one that separates the men from the boys.

I had one of the first critiques, and I was pleased with the results. It was wonderful to hear compliments from professors that I respect, and who have already succeeded in the industry I hope to break into. The votes of confidence that my work is marketable, that I have a clear focus, and that I look like I belong in the children’s book world were so encouraging to me.

The feedback that I need to work on was exactly in line with what I would have said about myself anyway… type doesn’t come naturally to me but I improved a lot (no kidding, thanks to a semester in a Graphic Design class! whew…), I’m better at the initial idea than polishing a final product (ah, if I had all the time in the world…), and that I REALLY need to work on drawing people, especially children. What can I say, I am an “animal” illustrator! Needless to say, I’ve bought some reference books, started a sketchbook, and am planning a Senior Project devoted to developing my style of kids next semester.

More photos of the books I made, including Ollie and Logger In The Deep Blue Sea, The Greek Alphabet Book, Around The Campfire, and Love Letters.  Note the shelves I made out of foam core (a feat!), and a HUGE shout-out to Anthony, the Staples employee who spent most of his day printing those books with all my specific paper stocks for me!!

Confessions Of A Foodie Part II – Kids Love Food, Too!

yelling orange with plumIn celebration of my foodie obsessions . . . here’s a top 5 list for the kids!

Top 5 Food-Related Children’s Books I Love:

1. How Are You Peeling?  by Saxton Freymann and Joost Eiffers (Arthur A. Levine Books) – Foods with moods.  I am more than happy to find daily reminders of this creative childhood obsession on the counter of Pratt’s Pie Shop cafe.

2.  Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola (G. P. Putnam’s) – I got my nickname “Strega Nona” from manic episodes of all-nighter pasta-making . . . and shouting children’s book references (“I’m f*ing Strega Nona!”) as I attempt to cook my own recipes.

3.  Jamberry by Bruce Degen (HarperCollins) – A small child’s bacchanalia.  Really.

4.  Gingerbread Houses For Kids by Jennifer A. Ericsson and Beth L. Blair (White Birch Press) – Shameless plug for my mother’s self-published cookbook.  But seriously, making gingerbread houses is my favorite winter activity, and no one does it better than they do. 

5.  Chicken Soup With Rice by Maurice Sendak (HarperCollins) – 

In July I’ll take a peep

Into the cool and fishy deep

Where chicken soup is sellin’ – cheap! 

Selling once, selling twice, selling Chicken Soup With Rice!

Panorama photos

I took my new favorite book into the dorm hallway today… here are the photos!   Impressive… 


Prattsters to Watch Out For!


photo by Janelle Fike

photo by Janelle Fike

Last night I had a catered and business card-filled evening working the Pratt Show, an annual event to showcase design grads coming out of Pratt this week!   Despite the customary “who got in?” drama, I was really impressed with the final presentation of Communications Design (COMD) picks.  


For children’s book illustration, the grads to watch out for are: 

Chelsea Greene Lewyta, whose linear+watercolor style looks like it jumped off the cover of an old Harper’s – gone wrong.  Love the macabre themes that she explores against the traditional look – reminds me of Trina Shart Hyman’s Little Red Riding Hood.

I thought the most marketable and fun children’s book illustrator was Patricia Raubo.  Her characters were expressive and entertaining… so I look forward to seeing them in the pages of a book soon!  

Also to check out are design superstars Alex Szymczak, Suraj Gandhi and Janelle Fike, whose Define Yourself project I had the honor of helping out on (see above), and am completely obsessed with!  

For more info and people in the Pratt Show, check out my work blog, Pratt Success.