How the School of Visual Art Shaped Isabel Ricaurte’s Creative Process
Isabel Ricaurte, an illustrator currently living in New York, has felt the highs and lows of art as a profession. The Ecuadorian-born artist came to New York to pursue her dreams and hone her craft. She has encountered challenges, sought guidance from inspirational mentors, and learned to embrace things that would push her creative boundaries. It was one particular artwork, “The Girl and the Box,” that had a profound impact on her creative process and mindset moving forward.
The School of Visual Arts, or SVA, presented a challenging learning experience for Isabel. Not only was she required to showcase her talent, she also had to be a problem solver. How could she take an abstract thought and convey that through art? How can she interpret her daily musings into a visual representation of a story? Isabel found these assignments difficult but thrilling. She was extending her reach in as yet unexplored artistic ways. Of these assignments, it was “The Girl and the Box” that resonated with Isabel the most.
Leading up to this, Isabel had previously done a piece called “How behavior an unhealthy person is like”.
In this piece, Isabel created a triptych, which is art containing three panels or pieces that tell a narrative. The expectation was to tell a story in three images. Isabel chose the darker subject of mental health, depicting a caged young woman, then that young woman popping pills, and finally, the young woman lying in a hospital bed. Even in this piece, Isabel felt there were still elements her artistic eye needed to grasp and develop further.
The SVA’s teachers are all noteworthy working artists. Marcos Chin, one of her favorite mentors, inspired and taught Isabel. Chin, himself an award-winning illustrator, encouraged students to write their musings daily. “Write down the first thing that pops into your head.” This daily writing felt like art therapy for Isabel. And it was from these writings that “The Girl and the Box” was born.
Taking one of her writings, Isabel drew a girl with a box in her chest from which papers are flying out. It was her own visual poem. There was a seismic shift in the way Isabel approached her subjects. This piece forced her to rethink her thinking process, and the very act of creating this piece further developed her drawing skills. Chin praised the piece as one of her best, noting the marked difference in her before and after.
By reaching beyond her comfort zone, Isabel discovered that she could imbue passion into any piece, even if that passion weren’t hers. Not every assignment given by teachers at SVA was loved by Isabel. She came to understand that she didn’t need to love everything asked of her personally, yet she could still fill that piece with emotion, setting her up for a career in illustration. The time she spent at the SVA gave her the confidence to develop her own personal art style, a blend of anime – a passion of hers – and Western influences with a bit of magic and fantasy. Isabel was able to focus her trajectory on a career she does have a passion for – illustration.