How did you become interested in the arts? How old were you when you began making art? How did you choose your particular major?
I’ve been interested in the arts since I was a kid. My earliest memory of creating art was actually in kindergarten. I had emigrated with my parents from the Philippines a year prior and was still struggling with the English language. I found comfort in drawings and pictures from storybooks, in visual language that can transcend even language barriers.
Choosing my major has been a particularly rough road with lots of detours. I spent a couple years in nursing school before I realized that I wasn’t truly fulfilled. Although art has been a lifelong passion, I’ve been dissuaded by so many well-meaning people from pursuing it as a career. As they say, passion alone cannot feed you. But couple that with hard work and an openness (to chance, to spontaneity, to people and places and ideas), and really, anything is possible.
What kind of career do you hope to have?
After discovering just how broad the illustrative field encompasses, I’m really quite open to different career types, although freelancing appeals to me the most. Authoring and illustrating books has been a lifelong dream, but any job that incorporates visual storytelling and connecting to an audience, whether that’s through concept art or even teaching, is something I’m passionate about. I want to create work that resonates with others, and I will pursue any career that allows me to do just that.
What is your favorite thing about UNC Charlotte, the College of Arts + Architecture, or the Department of Art & Art History?
My favorite thing about the Department of Art & Art History, of the College of Arts + Architecture, and of UNC Charlotte in general has been the people. I’ve been at different universities and colleges, but the diversity of UNC Charlotte has always amazed me. There is diversity of culture, beliefs, and ideas. Exposing oneself to all thoughts and avenues is one way to become a well-rounded artist, let alone a well-rounded person.
The faculty in the Department of Art & Art History in particular are an amazing group of people who have supported me since my first semester at UNC Charlotte. They are an endless well of knowledge, advice, and encouragement. As for the students, I’ve met some of the most hardworking and deeply compassionate people I know from the art department. These are people I stay up with at 3 am in the studio or computer labs, who give me honest critique about my work, whose pieces inspire and motivate me to get better, and who are — always, unfailingly — encouraging and supportive.
When you are not in class, studying, or working, what do you like to do for fun?
I like to go on mini adventures, whether it’s passing through a previously unexplored part of campus or going with family and friends to a new restaurant. I’m a firm believer that the best artists live multiple lives, most of which are not in a studio. The world is such a big place! My best work, I’ve discovered, has always been when I was inspired by something in the “outside world” (a song, a road, a person, an idea), and took it back with me when I returned to the studio.
See some of my work on my website: http://jguiller1.wix.com/uncc