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Art & Life with Gretel Cummings

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gretel Cummings.

Gretel, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Art has always been a part of my life. As a child, I spent countless hours watching my mother and grandfather paint beautiful landscapes of my home, Puerto Rico. Living on an island, it was easy to draw inspiration from the natural beauty and rich culture surrounding me. Now that I live in the states, I stay true to my Caribbean roots by using bright, bold, and lively colors.

I earned my bachelor’s degree in La Escuela de Artes Plásticas in Old San Juan. To this day, my time spent there is one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. The school is beautiful, with classes taking place in rustic stone buildings on a cliff near the sea, and the classes pushed me to grow as both a person and an artist. While there, my main dilemma was deciding whether to pursue a graphic design degree or an animation degree. I was equally curious about both paths, but was really seeking a fusion of the two: I wanted to design, but I also wanted to make those designs move! I decided to major in graphic design, and minor in animation.

After graduation, while working as a graphic designer for an advertising agency, I was able to work closely with a motion designer. I was creating illustrations for projects, and he would animate them. I found myself visiting his office more often in every project, asking him a million questions about After Effects. With his guidance and motivation, I realized how much I wanted to have the skills to bring my designs to life. So, after researching a few universities, I applied for a Master’s Degree at The Savannah College of Art and Design and was accepted by the Motion Media Design department.

Moving from Puerto Rico, away from my family, friends, culture, language and the crystal-clear Caribbean waters to pursue a masters (where I would seemingly need a billion loans to achieve) was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. The first few quarters of grad school where the toughest! Everyone at the university was insanely good, and I felt like I was way out of my league. It gave me a lot of stress, homesickness, and anxiety. I almost gave up a bunch of times, but my hunger to keep learning was always stronger. So I stayed and repeatedly reminded myself that I was there to learn.

The Motion Media Design department at SCAD runs a career event called CoMotion, arranged by the department’s student club, MOME LOVE. For CoMotion, MOME LOVE invites companies from all over to come for a two-day event where the company representatives do portfolio reviews, socialize with students and the other professionals, judge the student showcase, and participate as guest speakers on professional panels and discussions. At my first CoMotion, I volunteered to help with the event. During my second year, I was an officer of the MOME LOVE club. By my last year at SCAD, I was Co-President of the club. I learned a ton from being part of the club and helping plan and run the event, and it even got me some great exposure. Thanks to the awesome feedback from portfolio reviews, I landed my internships, first in Michigan and later in Los Angeles, where I reside now.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
During my time at SCAD, we had this joke that the motion design students were the indecisive creatives because in motion design you get to do a little bit of everything. We can go from designing in any medium to animating in after effects, to traditional frame-by-frame animation. We also learn basic 3D, stop-motion, video editing, and even a bit of sound design. By the end, most find their calling and choose what to focus on. Motion designers get a taste of everything which is part of what made me fall in love with this industry.

In my case, I’m still experimenting with all that knowledge gained at school, trying to figure out ways to utilize and combine it to create interesting things. I mostly like illustrating and exploring different styles within illustration. I feel like my work will always remain an experimental thought process. It’s how I process various situations in life. The way I deal with my mental health. Sometimes I illustrate, other times I doodle little cel-animated things. At times, I’ve also done some fun projection mapping stuff.

I’ve been trying to absorb as much as I can to continue growing as an artist and a designer. My goal is to be able to build my knowledge and skills over time, so I can use them to resolve projects.

What I hope people take away from my experience and work is that it’s never too late to find where your passion truly lies. Collaborate as much as you can, learn from your colleagues. And don’t be afraid to fail, because in the end it’s just another way of learning and growing creatively.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
Get involved in your industry, making friends and connections. Look at other creatives as an opportunity to learn rather than competition. Collaborate with others as much as you can, it’s an awesome way to learn new skills and to contribute to the creative community.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
If you’d like to follow my work and see my progress as I continue learning and polishing my skills, you can look me up on my sites below.


Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Illustrations by Gretel Cummings

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