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An interview with Kaelin O’Hare

Interview with Norwich University of the Arts student Kaelin O’Hare, from California currently enrolled on the BA (Hons) Illustration course.

How did you discover your passion for the visual arts?

As a child, I was fortunate to be surrounded by adults who would read books to me. My mother in particular has always been a collector of illustrated books and would encourage me to look at the book’s illustrations carefully. In this way, my interest in visual storytelling began very young, and ever since I have continued gathering and practising skills in image-making for the purpose of storytelling.

What’s your favourite part about creating illustrations?

Illustration allows for communication that might otherwise be difficult with words alone. It is an exciting process to create an image, especially when you feel you are making a connection between the viewer and the story being told.

What’s the hardest part for you about the process?

For me, the difficulty in creating lives in finding confidence to create at all. Beginning an image always reminds me of my struggle with decision-making. The more I create, and the more I try, I do find that I gain confidence and momentum, but the initial steps are slow and filled with self-doubt.

Why did you choose to study at Norwich University of the Arts?

The choice to attend NUA was based on its focused learning structure; it allows me to focus wholly on illustration and its context in the world. In addition, the prospect of living in Norwich appealed to me as a chance to experience a new place and different culture than the one I knew in the States.

What has been your favourite aspect of your University experience?

Since coming to NUA, I have found that I love how the teaching structure supports a broad exchange of ideas between my peers and teachers – and across different courses. As we are taught through workshops and lectures rather than classes, it is an environment that encourages self-initiation as well as collaboration. And as a result, I have built creative connections with peers and focused my own practice.

How do you think this program will help in what you want to do next?

We are exposed to different visiting practitioners and tutors who give us a glimpse of what is possible within our discipline. Our dedicated tutors are practising artists themselves, each with different backgrounds and experiences, and they are always available to answer questions concerning our future after university. Therefore, it is the support of the people within the school who make me feel encouraged to pursue the next steps in my career.

Where do you imagine yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years I hope I will be progressing in my illustration career and making art that encourages participation, collaboration, and community in whatever context I am in.

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