As a student pursuing a degree from a department that will soon cease to exist, senior Carly Fowler made sure to expand her art career as early as possible and is now an accomplished children's book illustrator. An art history and studio art double major, Fowler painted the illustrations for The Adventures of Patch the Puffin and Patch Puffin and the Hatchlings by Brigid O'Connor, the latter set to be released in November, when she will start work on the third piece of the series.
It started after Fowler contacted the storyboard artist for The Hobbit, who told her that all storyboard artists begin as illustrators. Since then, Fowler said, “The ball just keeps rolling.”
Fowler works with a storyboard script and collaborates with O'Connor to develop a vision for the story, with each page taking around six hours.
Patch's plot reflects its title: Patch and his playful animal friends find adventures on his island home. Fowler's watercolor techniques, which she developed during her time at Geneseo, beautifully display the story's oceanside scenes.
Previously Fowler only used charcoal as a medium, but she points to the well-rounded studio art program that has helped her to hone in on her personality as an artist that she rediscovers every day.
“It's taken four years for me to develop a style,” she said, jokingly adding, “I'm just now at the point where I don't want to burn everything that I make.”
Because the program asks that students try everything from photography to 3-D design, Fowler has a stronger sense of her goal as an artist than she did when she first began at Geneseo.
“I definitely identify as a contemporary artist because I work as a feminist and a surrealist, and I do a lot with gender equality,” she said. This semester, Fowler is working on a directed study; the subject of her work is her rabbit from home and how she can apply it to settings that can be a social commentary.
“If I'm not painting, drawing, creating or doodling something, I don't feel like a person anymore. For me, it's never been a choice,” she said. “If I don't do it, I don't feel right.”
Fowler creates masterpieces and strengthens her passion with the reminder that the studio art program will be gone in one year, something that she reflects upon often. When the school announced the cut during her freshman year, Fowler said that she was both confused and angry.
“That was chaotic, because I got here and they cut it. It was stressful,” she said, adding that many people told her to discontinue her degree. “They told me, 'Don't complete the major; you're not going to finish on time,' but I find that the more people tell me not to do something, the more I'm going to show them that I can.”
Within the art department, Fowler has grown close with instructors and students alike; she said that what upsets her most is the job losses that her instructors may incur in the spring.
“They all know so much,” she said. “And I've learned and grown and had this opportunity placed in my lap because of these people, and they're just going to be gone next year; that's just heartbreaking to me.”
Upon graduation, Fowler is hopeful to continue illustrating, adding that, “The great thing about being an illustrator is that you don't have to settle; you can be anywhere you want.”