Featured Student: Sydney Mills

artwork by Sydney Mills

 

It is pretty well known that here at Spiffy High, we have some very talented students. We even have those same students contribute to our news publication here at The Fanscotian. For the past few issues, junior Sydney Mills has shared her talents by drawing spectacular, vivid political cartoons for our newspaper.

 

What type of art do you do?
I draw. I’ve tried a bunch of other kinds of art (you know, collages, sculpting, photography), but they’ve never really stuck. The convenient thing about plain old drawing is that it’s pretty simple and cheap to get into, and I kind of like it for that.

 

What got you into art?
I got this book about dragons or something when I was younger, and the illustrations in it were absolutely mind-blowing for me. I copied a bunch of them, and was ridiculously proud of myself when I finished. From that point onward, I basically just drew a lot of dragons and monsters. At some point I switched over to humans, but I’m not sure when that was.

 

How long have you been drawing?
I drew really mindlessly starting from preschool onwards.  It was freshman year that I decided to draw every day, study, and learn stuff; and that’s the time that I consider real drawing. See, sometime during that year, I watched a video of an artist named Kim Jung Gi drawing from imagination on a large piece of paper attached to a wall.

In maybe 4 hours, this guy had turned the entire thing (literally about 15 feet by 7 feet) into a masterfully done rendering of an unimaginably complicated scene with flawless perspective, anatomy, composition, the whole nine yards.He had done no pre-sketch beforehand, and had used a brush pen the entire time (no erasing).It was surreal.

I later looked up some info about him and it turned out that he always had a thing for art when he was little, but he really started to improve when he drew for hours upon hours a day, every day, throughout high school. After high school, he drew even more- about 10-12 hours a day, from what I’ve read.He was someone who had decided to work hard at something that he loved without having pausing to worry about it consuming his life and his skills transcended everyone else’s in the process.That was impressive to me.
I keep him in the back of my mind when I draw.Maybe I’ll never be like him, but getting into the same kind of mentality that he has, even briefly, makes me feel a lot happier.

Do you like painting or any other types of art besides drawing?
I “paint” digitally with Photoshop. It’s technically not the same as normal painting, but the concepts are really similar (colors; values, which basically mean lights/darks in a picture; composition; the whole “chaos to control” process, which involves slapping a bunch of colors onto a canvas initially, and slowly turning it all into a cohesive painting as shapes appear).On days that I feel that normal sketching/drawing is too hard, I paint.On days that I feel that painting is too hard, I sketch.I don’t know if I’m supposed to do that.
I’ve never been quite interested in the other forms of art. Photography had me for a little bit in middle school, but I forgot about it pretty quickly.


You mentioned to me one time that you take classes in New York. Explain to me how that happened.
The classes are over, for now.The process was pretty straightforward- wake up at around 7 AM, go to Rahway station, ride to Penn Station, take the subway, walk to the Parson’s building, learn stuff and draw for 3 hours, and then the whole thing backwards. I remember liking the classes a lot- it was something about the simple presence of other people drawing that made me feel more motivated, and the projects that the teachers assigned.As it turns out, a lot of artists who are mostly self-taught seem to have issues with getting themselves to just draw, including myself for a little while.Those projects helped combat that.

Is there any illustrators that inspire you?
JC Leyendecker and Alphonse Mucha.  It’s not really the illustrators, specifically, that inspire me.  Ilya Repin and Ruan Jia, for instance, are two big non-illustrators that I absolutely adore.
There is another non-illustrator that I have to stick into the “inspiration” category, just because he is one of the reasons why I still draw as often as I do. His name’s Feng Zhu, and he’s a concept artist who posts videos on Youtube. He draws and studies for anywhere between 8 and 16 hours a day, so you’d think that he is extremely disciplined and has completely overcome procrastination and other petty desires.

I originally thought that he had, but the truth is that he never even felt the need to procrastinate.  Feng Zhu genuinely loves drawing so much that anything besides it is simply not as appealing.The way he describes his love for design and concept creation makes me feel better about the whole thing myself, and I frequently listen to his videos while drawing.  

Do you plan on drawing in the future? Perhaps as a career choice?
I plan on drawing in the future, but probably not as a career choice.Really, if I can retire at some point and spend the rest of my life drawing, I’ll be happy.

Have you submitted your work into any contests? Because you should.
Nope. But I’ll consider it!

McKella Sylvester is an Naruto-obsessed senior at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High school. She is an editor-in-chief of The Fanscotian and in her free time, McKella enjoys politics, fan fiction, and anime. McKella was also a 2016 Hugh N. Boyd Journalism Workshop participant.
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