At the end of the academic year, CCAD deans present the Outstanding Seniors for their divisions. Today, in part four of our 10-part Outstanding Senior series, meet Illustration major Sara Diesel.
Q) What was your proudest achievement while at CCAD?
A) I was recently chosen to be published in Spectrum 19, which is a science fiction illustration magazine. It is always great to be recognized for your work and to help get your name out there.
Q) What scared you the most?
A) Everything. Going into a career in illustration is kind of scary, because people say it is very hard to make money and be successful. I have been able to overcome that initial fear with various freelance opportunities and these recent publications.
Q) What are your plans after graduation?
A) I am from Pittsburgh, so I am going to move back home and continue to freelance.
Q) What’s your ultimate dream job? Or goal?
A) I would love to be able to start my own studio in five or 10 years. I want to be able to have a small, in-house illustration team and just be working in a creative and fun environment.
Q) Why is it important as an alumna to continue to give back to CCAD?
A) When I was a student I was always nervous about a career in illustration, but alumni who came back to talk and other visiting artists really helped reassure me. I want to be able to do the same for future students. I think it is important to come back and tell students and faculty that illustration is not a dead field and explain to them from a professional angle what the illustration market looks like.
Q) Do you remember a single point that made you sit back and say, “This is why I am doing this?”
A) I think it would be recently, seeing my work get published in various trade magazines. It is a strong reassurance that my work is paying off.
Q) What smell, word, object, or whatever will always remind you of your time here as a student?
A) I think the Triad building. I lived there when I was a freshman, and I remember how cold and everything it was. A lot of interesting memories there.
Q) What will you miss the most?
A) Probably just the environment. Right now I am immersed in a group of artists and creativity, and there will probably be no other place like this unless I decide to go back to school.
Q) If you can describe what graduating feels like in one word what would it be?
A) Nerve-racking. I am trying to just not think about it and enjoy the last moments here on campus. For the last 20 years I have been going to school, so leaving will definitely be something completely new and different.
Q) What was your favorite class at CCAD?
A) My 3D Illustration class with Mr. Hazelrig. He was the one teacher who would always say anything was possible. If you would come to him with an idea that seemed impossible, he would reassure you and say “let’s make this happen,” and we would. I think that’s impressive to help students work through the creative process without any limits.
Q) What did you do during your free time?
A) What free time? (laughs) When I would work on class assignments I would watch a lot of movies. I just saw We Need to Talk About Kevin, that is definitely one of my favorites.
Q) What is your fondest memory of CCAD?
A) During my freshman year a bunch of students camped outside before class registration. In Illustration everyone was nervous they wouldn’t get the classes they needed, and freshman have to signup in person. It started out with someone saying they were going to get there before they opened, then someone said they were going to camp out all night, and it just steamrolled. I think I got there at 10 p.m. the night before, and we were all standing outside in the freezing rain.
Q) If you could go back to college, what would you change?
A) I would probably make the decision to study illustration a lot quicker. I took a lot of extra classes trying to figure out what to do, which took up time from classes I wish I could have taken.
Q) What is your advice to future CCAD students?
A) Work hard. My whole philosophy is that this is just four years of your life, and that is it. You can easily commit yourself to work hard for those years and achieve a lot. Don’t slack off or breeze on through. There is a lot to learn here from faculty and peers, so make the most of it.
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