Illustration professor Mary Anne Lloyd wanted to give her students professional experience. While classroom assignments are helpful for building skills, she knew that real world assignments would provide a different lesson. So she contacted Ashley O'Brion, the art director of Maine Magazine, to see if there was a chance to collaborate.
Ashley said, "Mary Anne Lloyd pitched the idea to me and I loved it. Our magazine is all about mirroring the talents of the state. We see MECA as an incubator of young talent and wanted to find a way to incorporate the junior Illustration class into a spring issue. Our April poetry section was perfect because we had three opportunities for students' work to be featured. Not to mention, we all know that real world experiences are some of the best tools for teaching."
In the classroom, students create draft illustrations, review them with their professor and peers in a critique and then incorporate feedback to present the next draft. Sometimes that feedback means reworking an existing sketch, other times it means going back and starting from scratch on a whole new idea.
Ashley came to the classroom and asked each student to do three concept sketches. She gave feedback and chose one concept from each student to work into a final piece. She said, "One student created a sketch that I loved. When I received the final, it was a completely different piece. In a classroom situation, not dealing with clients or art directors, that can fly, but in real life, it doesn’t. We sent the student back, over HIS weekend to the drawing board to get that perfect portrait we had seen in his sketches. I think through that experience, he learned how important it is to listen to feedback and incorporate it. It can mean losing a job. As an illustrator, you have to be adaptable. Sometimes you’ll disagree, but at the end of the day, you’re often working for someone, not yourself, and to keep money in the bank, you have to be tuned into your client’s feedback."
In the end, all fourteen juniors submitted sketches. Wyatt Barr, Bridget Dunigan, and Mike Grass were selected to illustrate the article on national poetry month.