Yellow, illustration by senior Amanda Mitchell
Yellow, illustration by senior Amanda Mitchell

For many students at MCAD, senior year begins in just a few short weeks.

The thought of our last year of undergraduate education at MCAD evokes a lot of feelings, a lot of reflection, and many questions—both from ourselves and from our friends and family members regarding our senior projects and our futures. I got to chat with senior illustration major Amanda Mitchell about her senior project, post-college plans, and how Montana and Minneapolis have influenced her artwork. 

Amanda Mitchell, illustration major, senior


Hey Amanda! What is the most important thing about being an artist to you?

First of all, to make the best work I can, and to make it meaningful—even if it’s meaningful to just a few people. It’s also important to me as an artist to have a career I enjoy doing everyday, where even though it may be difficult at times, it rarely seems like work I don’t want to be doing.

From what I’ve seen, your works seems to focus on nature, magical or whimsical elements, and animals. Could you talk about your inspirations and why these recurring themes are important?

I grew up in a Montana, which is really rural. As a child, I spent most of my time outdoors. Here in Minneapolis, you don’t see lots of nature unless you travel outside of the city, so it’s important for me to bring that into my work. I also enjoy the idea of creating characters and places that wouldn’t actually exist in today’s world, and I believe that finding magic in everyday things is important and fun to do. Making illustrations that only reflect things exactly as the eye sees them limits the imagination, and I always try to imagine a world that is a little bit better than the one we live in.

Red, Amanda Mitchell


Is there something about MCAD’s campus, Minneapolis, or Minnesota that inspires you?

I really find the city to be inspiring in general. I love the idea of being a small part of something so big. I also love the houses in Whittier neighborhood around the MCAD campus. I like to try to imagine the people who live in them and why they chose to decorate their spaces like they do. The city at night is my favorite because it reminds me of the stars at home, they’re harder to see here in Minneapolis with all the light.

Are there any new skills or mediums that you want to learn about in your last year?

I’d actually like to learn to sculpt with clay. I’ve taken sculpture classes in high school, but that was a while ago for me. I’d like to learn how to take a character I’ve created and make it into something 3D. I think the feeling of building something like that with your hands would be very satisfying. I have very little experience in materials and process though, so that’s something I might challenge myself to learn this year.

“I love living in this city; I love the views and the people and the noise.”

Ghost, Amanda Mitchell


Nice! Have you taken any 3D classes at MCAD yet? Is there a particular type of 3D art you’re more interested in (e.g., plastic/3D printing, wood, metal, clay, etc.)?

The only 3D class I’ve taken is 3D Foundations. I really enjoyed wood sculpture and bronze casting. I loved the bronze casting best, the process is really fun to learn. I’ve done bronze before in high school (without actually getting the finished casts done), and sculpting with wax is really relaxing. I am most interested in clay sculpture because you really don’t need any heavy tools to do it. You also don’t usually need a lot of space to work in, unless you’re making something really big.  

Would you like to share what you’re thinking of doing for your senior project?

I’ve been bouncing around the idea of doing a book, because I’ve always wanted to do one. Last year, though, I did some interior space pieces that I really loved, and so I’m toying with the idea of illustrating a collection of different people and the spaces they occupy.

Potrait, Amanda Mitchell


Fast forward ten years in the future, what would you like to be doing for work, and where would you be living?

In ten years, I’d like to be doing freelance illustration work from home. I haven’t had enough experience really to narrow it down to just one type, and I honestly think that some variety in the type of work breaks things up nicely. I used to want to be the type of person who created their own products (prints, stickers, things like that), but I tend to procrastinate with no specific deadline so I don’t think that would be the best for me. I’m hoping to make Minneapolis or someplace nearby my permanent home. I love living in this city; I love the views and the people and the noise.  

Cozy, Amanda Mitchell