North Texas Daily

Gogh-ing the distance

Gogh-ing the distance

Drawing and painting sophomore Natalia Sanchez works on a mixed media self-portrait at her apartment on Sept. 8. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

Gogh-ing the distance
September 10
17:19 2015

Morgan Sullivan | Staff Writer


At first glance, Natalia Sanchez might look like a stereotypical art student, with bubblegum-pink hair and eyeliner wings done to perfection.

But Sanchez, a drawing and painting sophomore, argues art majors have much more to worry about than their appearance.

In fact, she said sometimes their art prohibits them from looking picture-perfect.

“Last semester we were doing so many charcoal pieces that I would come home and I’d start sneezing and there was charcoal coming out,” Sanchez said.

She said it’s kind of like a second job, but without pay. Sanchez recalled countless hours of working on projects after class, iterating how physically demanding her major can be.

Sanchez said she had to stand for an entire two-hour drawing class during her freshman year.

She said the combination of Masonite boards and artwork in a portfolio, which art students are required to carry, can weigh over 20 pounds.

“Whenever I see freshmen walking around with their toolkits and their portfolios, I’m like, ‘I feel your pain,’” she said.

Even when they aren’t in class, Sanchez said, most art majors spend their time deliberating projects and additional pieces.

“It’s hard to put an exact hour amount, but it has definitely impacted my social life,” drawing and painting senior Betsey Gravatt said.

She said it’s often upsetting when people assume her major is easy because she knows firsthand about the aggressive program.

“I think that the art program here is really competitive, and that’s why I came here,” she said. “So it’s not easy at all.”

Gravatt said to get into the program, she had to apply and have her art reviewed at the end of her sophomore year.

After acceptance, students have a midpoint review after junior year and exit reviews senior year.

“I feel like I’ve noticed a difference from when I was a freshman until now,” Gravatt said. “I feel a lot more prepared for post-grad life.”

On days she has off, Gravatt works all day in her makeshift studio.

What was originally her living room is now a space where she can hang her own pieces or stuff she’s inspired by.

“I’m always working on three or four things at once,” she said.

She said she likes to work on abstract, non-objective pieces because of how an onlooker may react.

“It’s not specific to me,” she said. “People can look at it and see something totally different than I do.”

Devin Anderson spent $50-75 on art supplies every week his freshmen year. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

Betsey Gravatt’s art supplies and works of art sit on shelves in her makeshift studio.  Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

Students in the College of Visual Arts and Design, or CVAD, are more than just “traditional” art students. The college also encompasses the majors of photography, communication design, interior design and fashion design.

“We’re not all white girls with colored hair in American apparel,” sophomore communication design student Devon Anderson said.

Art students come in all shapes and sizes, he said.

“When they say, ‘Oh, you’re just an artist because you can’t do math,’ it really bugs me, because I was a straight-A student,” he said. “I graduated out of high school with a 3.98.”

Although he works with mostly computer software programs, he said he still feels stressed over a financially demanding major.

“My freshman year, I spent between $50 and $75 a week on art supplies,” he said. “It burnt a hole in my pocket.”

At the end of portfolio reviews every fall, the college makes drastic cuts. Only the best students remain in the program.

“Aside from all the schoolwork they assign you, just the review is a ton of pressure,” Anderson said.

The most intense review, he said, is after the fall semester of freshman year, when they cut down the number of students from around 200 to 80. The numbers are then cut by 50 percent each fall.

“I had a few nervous breakdowns the first semester,” Anderson said.

After sitting through a two-hour typography class where students picked apart one another’s work, Anderson said he often had to go home and make 70 iterations of his ten best designs, all due the next class meeting.

“Coming into college, you think, ‘Oh, this is going to be so much fun. I get to draw every day for a living. This is my dream,’” Anderson said. “And then you get there, and it’s so much hard work, and you didn’t anticipate it.”

No matter what art students want to do after they graduate, they all agreed on one thing – they do art because they love it.

“Honestly, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else,” Anderson said. “Art is my passion.”

Featured Image: Drawing and painting sophomore Natalia Sanchez works on a mixed media self-portrait at her apartment on Sept. 8. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

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