Student illustrators share and create new work on campus


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Mary Racette, Associate Editor

A passion for illustration is shared within the Student Interest Group for Illustrators (SIGIL) on Grand Valley State University’s campus. This organization has provided a community for people of all different backgrounds to unite in expressing themselves through art. 

Assistant Director of Illustration and Foundations Guin Thompson has been one of the faculty advisors for SIGIL since the group was formed in 2014. The organization was created to meet the campus’ needs of having a group centered around illustration. 

“We wanted to have more opportunities for students to exhibit their work and connect with the industry,” Thompson said.

Students who are a part of SIGIL are offered opportunities to show their work in a gallery. They are known to show their work in the Calder Arts Center student gallery and around Downtown Grand Rapids. This gives students a chance to create work that they may potentially include in a portfolio. 

While most people in SIGIL are art students, the events are open to the whole GVSU community. Students from various different art disciplines are involved in the group. Disciplines such as graphic design, film and video, printmaking, painting and photography. 

Students new to the illustration program or curious about the career path of illustration can benefit from this club through the various skill-building experiences.  

SIGIL holds workshops and invites guest speakers to events. These opportunities help broaden students’ skill sets in illustration and art. 

“It is a great way for people to learn about what the major actually is and what illustrators do,” Thompson said. “It helps us connect with other areas that sort of intersect with illustration like animation and film and video.”

GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Thompson also said she has grown as an illustrator during her time as SIGIL’s advisor. As she looks for opportunities to grow her students’ careers, she is reminded to not neglect her own. 

“Being an educator is very demanding of your time but keeping active in my own work is an important part of being a good example and staying current, not just for myself but for them too,” Thompson said. 

In addition to skill-building, SIGIL doubles as a social club where student artists can connect and make friends with one another. They often gather for movie nights and other events students express interest in. 

Having a network of friends who illustrate is beneficial to the students because it provides a safe space to share works in progress. SIGIL holds critique and work nights for students to exchange feedback. While classes do critiques, the less formal environment might make it easier for students to open up.

SIGIL tries to hold an event for members or the GVSU community every Thursday from 8-10 p.m. in room 1510 at the Calder Art Center. Recently, SIGIL held a life drawing night where the community was invited to express themselves in illustration. 

They have an upcoming Halloween show where students can submit carnival-themed work. 2D, 3D, video and animation pieces are accepted. The deadline to enter is October 22 by 5 p.m. Anyone is welcome to submit their work to the Halloween show.