Category Archives: Interviews

Meet “Student of the Month” and your new Jr Rep, Arta Ajeti!

Illustration by Ryan Florez
Illustration by Ryan Florez

Ryan: The big question everyone should have an answer to: Why are you an illustrator? What inspired you or made you decide that this was a lifestyle you’re most interested in?

Arta: Well I’ve always drawn from a young age. I think maybe it’s to do with my name because I have art in my name, haha. Yeah, from a young age I was always like I’m going to be an artist. Initially I was going to go into Fine Arts, but then realized it wasn’t really me.

Ryan: Who’s your favorite illustrator and why?

Arta: This is a tough one… I really like Moonassi. I got really into his work; his use of negative and positive space, and I think that sort of shows in my work actually. He’s my favorite at the moment, but I have quite a few random inspirations that I find. There’s one guy, Owen Gent, who paints really beautifully and I really want to paint like him, so I’m gonna try next semester to do more work kind of in his style.

Ryan: What do you always have with you (despite the essentials: phone, wallet, etc.) that you can’t leave home without?

Arta: I have a fish eye camera that I take. I don’t really take photos with it often, but when I really want to use it I do and I make a point of taking it with me. I’m getting back into photography, because I was really into it when I was sixteen, but it sort of fizzled out. I make a point of doing it now.

Ryan: Weirdest thing you’ve ever drawn or put into your sketchbook?

Arta: Haha, let me think about this… I use to have a scrapbook that I put random things in. I should do that again actually, because that was fun. I just have random nights out and stick things in there, like tickets and memorabilia.

Ryan: It’s 3am in the morning, you know you’re gonna have to pull an all-nighter to get your project done for critique that day and you just had your seventh cup of coffee; in your delirious state of exhaustion you hallucinate the ghosts of Illustration past, present, and future. Who would these ghosts be and what would they say to you?

Arta: Quentin Blake would take me back to when I was a kid reading Roald Dahl, and first realising I wanted to be an artist. He would remind me of a time where making art was a care-free experience. Our very own 3D teacher Glenn LaVertu would probably be the ghost of the present, because Glenn. He would say ‘why are you using the wrong glue?’. The ghost of illustration future would be the finished assignment, telling me I can complete it in time. At that point I would notice I was hallucinating and probably make a note to call a psychiatrist the next day.

Ryan: Which do you relate more to and why? Edvard Munch’s The Scream or Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory?

Arta: Oh definitely the latter, haha. I mean I love surrealism and Dalí is my man. I don’t know I’m less expressionistic; I like the surreal and weird. His (Dalí) mind is always fascinating to me.



In 2014, Anya Ulinich abandons the world of prose with her new graphic novel, “Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel,” in which she deploys her competence as both a writer and an illustrator. This book is based on “Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel,” by Bernard Malamund, which narrates the story of a man who consults a marriage broker in search for a wife. In Anya Ulinich’s version, the magic barrel is a world of online dating, portrayed as a chaotic and intricate world many of us are familiar with. Anya was classically trained in art, but switched to writing upon her arrival in the States, as she stated having “no place to paint.” However, after her first book “Petropolis,” Anya found herself stuck, she felt like she was “impersonating a novelist.” After the rejection of her second book from her publisher, her agent asked her, “What else do you have,” and Anya showed her an assortment of doodles, sketches, diary-like pages; that was all she had. This was the beginning of a great and entirely new project. Even though Ulinich graduated from the University of California with an MFA in painting and had previously written a novel (non-graphic), she maintains having known very little about comic books prior to this project. Nonetheless, this book brings Ulinich’s work to a whole other level of notability, creating a new visual and written language all of her own.

Essentially the book tells the story of a woman, Lena, (also the narrator), who much like Anya herself, is a late 30s divorced mother and novelist from Moscow, teaching and living in Brooklyn with her two daughters. It recounts Lena’s attempts to mend her views of love and sex, through social media platforms such as OKCupid, but there is much more complexity to the plot that Ulinich had in mind. The work appears as a sort of revealing, sequence of journals, which uncover and examine the main characters, and thus indirectly the author’s life and psyche from within. Through subtle details, we come to learn much about the reality of Ulinich’s life and upbringing.

“Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel” successfully and deeply captivates its viewers as we are both told and shown a story simultaneously. Her drawing style is rather ostentatious, thrilling, powerful, and witty, yet it is somehow always dark, or cloudy or night-time. Moreover, Anya’s drawing technique of combining quick sketches and more finalized illustrations into a style which is naturalistic, impressionistic and at times, cartoony, parallel the protagonist’s constant efforts to make sense of the diverse pieces of her life.

In her book, Anya Ulinich does not attempt to hide anything. We follow the protagonists’s most mundane actions and watch her in all her imperfect and tremendous humanity, resulting in a stronger bond and connection between character and reader. Anya Ulinich is both witty and serious, kind and straightforward, ruffled and unapologetic. The pages mostly dominated with words take a bit of getting used to, yet the experience is truly rewarding. I personally believe that books such as this one, gorgeously created, cleverly recounted and fancifully illustrated are such masterpieces and treasures.

-Noe Paparella

Zachary Zezima illustrates the cover of American Illustration 31

The cover and end pages of American Illustration 31 was done by Parsons Illustration alum Zachary Zezima (2009). You can see more images on his blog. It was designed by Paul Sahre and Erik Carter. See it in book form here. Come celebrate its publication at the AI-AP Party on Friday, Nov. 9.

Zachary Zezima, American Illustration 31

Nicholas Gannon interviewed on Seven Impossible Things

The children’s book and illustration blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast recently posted an in-depth write-up on Parsons Illustration Alum Nicholas Gannon.  The article includes an interview with Nicholas and an animated video introducing the star of his online newspaper the Doldrums’ Press.

Seven Impossible Things also has a monthly Up-And-Coming Illustrator post, which has previously featured current Parsons Illustration students Monica Ramos and Rachel Levit.

Parsons Illustration Alum Julie Pinzur’s Mokuyobi Threads

Parsons Illustration Alum Julie Pinzur (Class of ’11) was recently featured on the blog of fashion design website BurdaStyle. The article includes an in-depth interview with Julie about her company, Mokuyobi Threads, and photos of her designs and her work space.

Julie Pinzur standing in front of her non-thesis works at the 2011 Illustration Senior Show.

Julie’s blog.

Sophia Chang (’10) Making Posters for Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations

Parsons Illustration Alum Sophia Chang (’10) is collaborating with Anthony Bourdain and No Reservations to create a series of limited edition — and signed — posters promoting the new season of the show.

Sophia previously made a poster for No Reservations’ Boston episode (above), but now she’ll be making an original poster for each episode this season.  Five autographed posters will be given away each week, and you can enter the sweepstakes here.

Watch an interview with Sophia, where she talks about her creative process.

Student Showcase: Rachel Levit

Parsons Illustration Senior Rachel Levit (’12) is this month’s featured Up-and-Coming Illustrator on the book/art blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  The article includes an interview with Rachel and a great selection of her work.

You can see more of Rachel’s work here: