Teagan White
Teagan White

Leading up to the annual MCAD Art Sale, we spoke with some of the top sellers from the past two decades. Here, artist Teagan White describes her creative practice and what the MCAD Art Sale meant to her.

Teagan White ’12 is a freelance illustrator specializing in intricate drawings of flora and fauna, playful watercolors of animal characters, and illustrated typography. Her clients have included Target, Papyrus, American Greetings, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Disney Hyperion, Nike, Honda, Ford, Wired Magazine, and the Washington Post.

What medium(s) do you primarily work in?

Most of my work is done in gouache and watercolor and reproduced in screenprint, giclée, and on products.

What has MCAD meant for you in terms of launching your creative career?

MCAD encouraged me to branch out into all different areas of art, some of which I never knew existed before I started school! I tried so many different things, from papermaking and typography to bookmaking and oil painting, and not all of them stuck, but I developed a diverse set of styles and a breadth of knowledge that allowed me to start working as a freelance illustrator before I finished school. One major part of my career right now is illustrating picture books, which I credit entirely to taking a children's illustration class at MCAD. The style I stumbled across in that class is something I would never have developed if I hadn't been given the space to explore different avenues.

Where are you now in your career/artistic practice?

I'm a full-time artist and freelance illustrator. My practice is split fairly evenly between three areas: children's illustration, where I illustrate picture books, greeting cards, puzzles, toys, and so on; freelance illustration, where I work with clients on designs for book covers, posters, packaging, etc; and my less neatly defined personal practice which involves a lot of paintings for galleries, art print releases, and fun products like zines, patches, and pins.

Can you describe a favorite memory from the Art Sale?

My best MCAD Art Sale memories are actually buying other artists' work! Everyone with work on sale is in the same boat, excitedly or anxiously hoping that some of their work will sell so their hard work pays off and they can feel reassured that the art they're making is good. Regardless of whether it's your first time putting something in the sale or you're a veteran who sells out of everything, that pressure and need for validation never goes away. The times that I've been fortunate enough to make a profit in the Art Sale I've celebrated by buying at least one thing that I loved at the very end of the sale, partly because I want the person who made it to know that someone out there thinks their work is incredible and has value, and I want them to keep making it!

Are there classmates/alumni who inspired you while you were in the sale?

I was always most inspired by alumni work that was all framed and grouped together on a wall. I love seeing one artist's work displayed so tightly packed from floor to ceiling, and it inspired me to enter framed works into the sale and submit work that looked cohesive.

Do you have a favorite piece you've bought from the sale?

I have a gorgeous tintype of a skull that I bought from Carla Rodriguez a couple of years ago!

What Art Sale advice would you give young MCAD artists?

I think the most important thing is to be aware of your audience with every decision you make. People are mostly coming to buy gifts and decorations for their homes, and not all work will sell equally when viewed through that lens, but that doesn't mean the work itself isn't important or valuable, or that you are on the wrong path if you don't have work to put in the sale. If selling is your focus, you may have to come up with creative solutions to make your work more marketable for an event like this—maybe half your portfolio is too large or expensive or subversive or experimental to be compatible with this sale, and it comes down to making some smaller work, producing prints, selecting your content carefully, or trying a more accessible version of an idea. However, also remember that not everything is about the money—thousands of people come through the sale and see all the work on the display, so even if they don't buy something of yours, they might take note of your work or message which could lead to other opportunities in the future.

Additional Top Sellers