Comic Page by Harry Gao
Comic Page by Harry Gao

MCAD students share what they have been up to this summer in relation to their art and travels.

While the school year is full of creative energy and intense classes, these few students share how they have been enjoying their time off. The break allows for travel and more free time to enjoy the nice weather which often leads to a great source of inspiration for a student’s artistic endeavors. I decided to chat with some of my classmates to learn more about what they are creating over the break.

Palmer's clamps
Photo of clamps by Smith

First, I talked with furniture design major Palmer Smith about his plans for the rest of the summer and how the break had been so far. 

Did you travel around or go back home this summer?

For the summer I am currently residing on campus in MCAD housing. I will, however, be traveling back home to North Carolina mid-August to visit my family for a short bit.

Have you taken any summer classes so far or are you currently working somewhere else?

Currently, I am not taking any summer classes and will be starting classes again this fall. In the meantime I'm just trying to work as much as I can at my current position, designing for a local cabinet shop. I did also secure a second job at Target’s production studio, where I will be working on building props and sets for commercials and public events. I'm planning to start there in the coming weeks.

Photo of drillpress by Smith

I saw on your Instagram that you were developing a 3D printed fabric material for your furniture. Have you expanded on that idea or made any new pieces this summer?

I haven't been making any art or furniture over the summer as I've been primarily occupied with work. However, I have been spending some time on the side researching new 3D printing materials for future furniture projects, as well as looking into starting my own 3D printed lighting brand during the school year.

Saw by palmer
Photo of saw by Smith

Are you ready for school to be back in session?

I'm actually quite excited to start back this fall. I have been missing working in the 3D shop and am eager to see all the changes they have made. I'm looking forward to a majority of my classes, however, one that really stands out to me is Product Design Drawing. It will be my first course from the relatively new product design coursework and am I looking forward to developing a new sketch style for my designs.

Next, I interviewed Harry Gao, a comic art major, about his experience this summer in relation to his comics and travels. 

Did you stay in Minneapolis this summer?

No, I went to Chicago for a few weeks after school went out, both for work and for play, and then I saw my sister's high school graduation in North Carolina. But I'll be back in Minneapolis for the rest of the summer.

Harry Gao at CAKE
Gao at the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo

Are you taking any summer classes?

I'm not taking any summer classes, but some professors were kind enough to let me use their materials, so I'm working my way through a couple of class syllabi on my own.

How has the summer been so far? Is it better after having a -50º winter?

The summer's been rainier and more overcast than I'd like, but I'm really happy whenever it's warm and sunny.  I used to dislike humid heat, but I'm so sun-starved now after the winter that I'll happily sweat as long as the sky's clear.

Have you made any more art this summer? Do you have a favorite piece? 

I've been working on some illustrations and comic short stories.  I sketch when I can. No favorites so far, but I've really enjoyed doing diary-type comics and figuring out how to use the comic medium in a more self-expressive way.

Diary entry Harry Gao
Artwork By Gao

I noticed on your Instagram you participated in Cake Chicago. How was that?

CAKE was lovely!  Going to the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo for the first time a couple of years ago was a huge inspiration, so going back there as an exhibitor was really satisfying.  I sold comics and made friends and soaked in a lot of energy; it was a nice milestone and a huge confidence boost. Folks interested in comics oughta give it a go.  

Artwork by Harry Gao
Artwork by Gao

Are you ready for classes to start up in the fall? Are you excited about any class in particular? 

School starting up again will be nice; the structure helps me be productive.  But honestly, right now I'm just enjoying the sunshine.  

Finally, I got the chance to interview incoming sophomore Anna Schmidt who has been traveling all over Europe this summer. 

I noticed through your Instagram that you have been traveling to quite a lot of places this summer. Where all did you go?

I went back home for the first month, but since then I have been traveling in the UK to visit family and travel with friends.

How does the weather back home and in Europe compare to this humid Minneapolis weather?

The weather was very mild in Seattle, but the heatwave in Britain almost makes me wish for a Minnesota winter. Almost.

Have you made any artwork this summer inspired by your travels? 

I have sadly not been making as much art as I had hoped to this summer, but I made a few pieces digitally that I had fun experimenting with the line art style. They were just fanart pieces, as I generally don't make during the school year, but I am pleased with the result. I have had a lot of time though to think about art, and have generated a lot of ideas for more ambitious future pieces I'd like to take on, so at the very least I would say I haven't been idle.

Anna Schmidt Work
Sketch by Schmidt while at the Scottish National Museum 

Are you ready for summer to end and classes to start? Are there any classes that you are looking forward to starting this fall?

I am actually very excited for next fall. I am looking forward to my first oil painting class as well as the Islamic Art class. I am also excited to be acting as a peer mentor for a group of incoming students!

Overall it sounds like the students at MCAD have been having tons of fun between exploring the area, traveling the world, and experimenting with new projects and ideas. No matter what it seems the summer has lead to new inspirations that have made all the students very eager to return to classes. And I know that MCAD can't wait to see them bring that creativity and energy back into the classroom.