A Collective State of Mind

November 5th, 2013 by Student Blogger
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The leaders of the ISC at last year's leadership banquet. I am doing a weird thing with my arms because I was nervous.

The leaders of the ISC at last year’s leadership banquet. I am doing a weird thing with my arms because I was nervous.

By Colleen Clark

The summer before my junior year, I was approached by a stranger and asked if I wanted to help start a student group. It was a complete leap of faith, for both the creator of the group and for me. Saying “yes” not only completely re-defined my experience at CCAD, but changed me as a person—forever, and for the better!

I had heard of the Animation Student Collective (or ASC) before.  The group quickly gained notoriety around campus, winning “Best Student Group of the Year” in its first year of existence.

The “collective” idea, started by now-alumnus Rico Jackson (2013), works on a five-leader model. The idea is to have a student group that brings the major closer together through professional practices, visiting artists, tutorials and demonstrations, homework parties, and sometimes just fun hang-outs. Rico (and the other leaders) decided that there should be more collectives to match the success of the ASC. He approached me and four other illustration students to start up the Illustration Student Collective.

A poster from one of our first events.

A poster from one of our first events.

At first, I was terrified, and I even considered saying no. I had never thought of myself as a leader before. I had no trust in my abilities to be responsible for a group, and I didn’t feel like I had any sort of authority over anyone else. I was reassured, however, that the goal of the collective isn’t to have any students lead or press authority over any others, but rather to gather people with the passion to do things as a group that cannot be done alone. I ended up accepting the position of overseeing communications within the group.

Last year, our meetings started out with a pizza party, a mascot design contest, and our first gallery show, hosted by 39 Below Frozen Yogurt. We had visiting artists start to come in—some faculty, like illustrator Adam Osgood, and some alumni, like comic-artist Lora Innes (2002), and graphic illustrator Graham Erwin (2011). We also had some some local but well-known artists visit, like fantasy illustrator Steve Prescott and graphic designer Jeremy Slagle.

Since then, we have had three more gallery shows (including an online gallery of Pokemon drawings), resume workshops, meetings on how to figure out your illustrative niche, and lots of fun movie and game nights.

Somehow, miraculously, the ISC won “Best Student Group of the Year” last year, in our first year of existence, keeping up with the ASC’s tradition.

Leaders and members of the ASC posing with the mural featuring the ISC and ASC's mascots! (The ISC's is the dragon.)

Leaders and members of the ASC posing with the mural featuring the ISC and ASC’s mascots! (The ISC’s is the dragon.)

Our hope, and my mentor and dear friend Rico’s hope from the beginning, is for this to happen within every major. This year saw the inception of the collectives for Cinematic Arts, Photography, and Industrial Design. I can say with absolute certainty that these collectives not only help the student experience but help the school as a whole. If we can motivate everyone within one major to work together, we can figure out what we want from our school. Our Facebook group page has 358 members right now, with students joining almost daily. They post their artwork for critique, links to artists that inspire them, ask homework help questions, talk about other events on campus, etc. It is a community I cherish and can’t imagine my school experience without.

This year, I have changed leader position to president, although it doesn’t mean much because the leadership is evenly distributed between the five leaders. Right now, the other leaders are junior Ashley Tatman (producer), senior Thomas Kirkeberg (art director), senior Samuel Veirs (communications), and junior Tyler Dunbar (treasurer). Previous leaders include alumni Lexie Holliday (2013), Wes Talbott (2013), and junior AJ Rothert. I consider all of these people my close friends, even though I did not know any of them before sharing leadership with them.

I strongly urge anyone and everyone on a college campus to pursue being involved in a student group. Whether you are a leader or a member. Having a place to go every week where you know there will be the same friendly people who share your interests is something very unique to the college experience. Take advantage of it while you are in the atmosphere. Two years ago I would never have called myself a leader, but now it is one of the things I am most proud of.

Colleen Clark is a senior majoring in illustration who enjoys looking at photos of dogs online, following NBC comedy series (specifically anything involving Tina Fey), and sharing her art and thoughts through her online blog.

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