Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in Illustration, to develop the kind of images I want to create and stories I want to tell. In my experience, the best way to creatively grow is when working within an artistic, academic community. I have always found critiques from other students helpful, and being in graduate school is no exception. My university, California State University, Fullerton, is a close-knit community of expert professors and passionate students that collaborate and challenge one another.

I am focusing on conceptually unified illustration work, even if created using varied mediums, and for different markets (editorial, comics, children's literature, educational, etc.). While I've always been interested in the relationship between humans and animals, my interest in botanical illustration over the past few years has pushed me towards particular ideas unifying my interests. The concepts that I want to explore deal with observing/navigating the world alone, real life sadness versus fantasy happiness, and seeing life through a certain lens when you're from one place but then relocate to another. These ideas all have to do with identity, and exploring varied sides of the same thing. People reading children's books and comics need to have stories they can relate to, and those are what I want to write and draw.

In addition, having been a teaching artist for years, I love being an educator. Working towards my Master's was something I wanted to do also so that I could eventually teach at the college level. I have been incredibly inspired by my professors, and throughout my program I am aiming to become a graduate teaching assistant, to work towards my goals of being a professor in the Visual Arts.

To conclude, I am a visual and verbal storyteller, and educator. I love making work that moves people; I love teaching others, and I hope to teach at the college level in the future. I am very fortunate to be doing my MFA at CSUF, working towards my goals.

Donna from California
California State University, Fullerton