Kalamazoo Valley student Alexis Reed is such a talented illustrator that one of her drawings has been selected to represent the college’s Center for New Media. Her octopus drawing, called Let Me Help You, will be used in promotional materials. So far it has been displayed on the college website and on a bookmark and a DVD. To create the piece, Reed mixed her graphite drawing of an octopus with a photo of a hand gripping a pencil. “I used Photoshop to combine them like puzzle pieces,” Reed explained.
Having her work selected to promote the CNM reinforced her confidence. “It got me out there and got me to realize that I am a true artist and I can succeed.”
Reed came to Kalamazoo Valley after graduating from Paw Paw High School in 2010. An art teacher there encouraged her to continue to develop her artistic ability, but she had planned to study psychology. After a change of heart she is pursuing an art degree instead. “I decided to go into art and art education because it’s a dying field and I want to keep it going,” Reed said. “Kids need to be able to express themselves. When I grew up I was drawing all the time. It was a way that I could express myself. I could use it to get my anger, sadness or even happiness out.”
Reed’s first class at the CNM was a watercolor class. “Just coming in here and seeing how beautiful the architecture is and how inspiring it is made the environment so much better,” she said. “Being in a classroom with natural lighting from big, beautiful windows and painting with an awesome instructor just made this the right fit for me.”
Reed loves the challenge involved in illustration. “I’ve always enjoyed drawing and composition as well as concept development,” she said. “I really like solving a problem. That’s basically what art is for me – a problem I can solve in lots of different ways.” As a portfolio student, she and her classmates have created projects for outside customers. She is part of a team that’s creating a website for a dachshund breeder. She has enjoyed the challenge of meeting deadlines and creating designs that must meet the client’s approval. “It’s given us a real look at what it’s going to be like in the workforce,” Reed said. “We’ll know the program right out of college.”
In addition to her studies at the CNM, Reed is an intern at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum where she creates art projects to complement the Hands-On events for children. “It’s been a wonderful experience and a really big challenge,” Reed said. “I really enjoy my job.” Reed said all of her interactions at Kalamazoo Valley have been positive. “The instructors know the business and what it’s going to take for us to be successful,” she said. Reed has high praise for instructor Aubrey Hardaway because of her talent as well as her caring attitude. “She’s just fun and she wants to know how you’re doing and how you’re feeling about the work that you’re doing,” Reed said.
Hardaway said she’s impressed with Reed’s ability. “Alexis is a stellar artist, invoking imagination and fantastical storytelling. Her technical skills are very strong and she is able to apply them to create pieces of art that leave a lasting impression,” Hardaway said. “I'm honored to know such an amazing student and artist.”
Reed is certain that she’ll be prepared for success as a professional illustrator. “I’m getting the same skills as I would at a four year college,” she said. “What I love most about Kalamazoo Valley is that everyone wants to see students succeed in life.”