Submitted by students, these are previous internship experiences told first-hand.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Paul Wackers, Painter


My name is Taylor Smith-Hams, and I’m a Sophomore Painting and Humanistic Studies major. Over the summer of 2013, I worked as a studio assistant for painter Paul Wackers. I contacted several artists in January and February of this year, people whose work I had both long admired and recently discovered. I sent out emails with my resume and cover letter, and Paul was the most interested of the artists I contacted. After several email exchanges and few phone interviews, Paul invited me to work for him in his Brooklyn studio from June through August.


In the studio, I completed various daily tasks including washing brushes, preparing panels, assisting with painting, purchasing supplies, documenting work, and packing and shipping work. As the summer progressed, Paul increased my responsibilities, eventually giving me broader painting assignments with which I had more freedom. I am most proud of these small projects, as they demonstrate the trust and respect I developed with the artist and expanded my painting abilities.

Interning with Paul was a valuable experience that exposed me to the realities and challenges of life as a working artist. I gained useful skills, particularly in regard to art handling, and picked up several new painting tricks and techniques. I also had the privilege of meeting several of Paul’s artist friends who were kind enough to talk with me about their respective work and careers. My time in Brooklyn gave me a realistic picture of a fine art career and solidified my goal of combining art with the other fields I am interested in, particularly politics and public service, to build a rounded, diverse professional life.   

Random House Children’s Books

My name is Sarah Jacoby and I am an Illustration and Printmaking major. Random House Children’s Books is the world’s largest English language children’s trade bookpublisher. Schwartz & Wade is a smaller children’s book imprint at Random House. I was not familiar with Schwartz & Wade until Rachael Cole, Art Director, came to speak to the Illustration Practice Program in the fall of 2012. As an illustrator who is interested in creating picture books, I was just becoming familiar with imprints that I respected at that time. Schwartz & Wade was very high on my list. I made an effort to introduce myself to Rachael the day she spoke at Mica and applied for an internship that winter. After an in person interview at their home office in New York, I was hired.

During the summer I worked closely with Stephanie Pitts, the editorial assistant at Schwartz &
Wade. My general duties were the following:
• Read and report on submissions
• Read unsolicited manuscripts
• Scan and package original art from illustrators
• Attend all relevant department/division meetings
• Maintain our social media presence on Facebook and Flickr
• Administrative, editorial, and design duties as assigned

I particularly enjoyed being in direct contact with authors and illustrators like Sophie Blackall,
Stephanie Graegin, Chris Raschka, Red Nose Studio and many others. I was able to contact
them, handle their art and give general feedback. This experience truly gave me the sense of
what it’s like to create a book with a major publishing industry from the very beginning. It also enabled me to understand the nature of art direction at a children’s book imprint. This experience not only helped me to understand how this industry works, but the nature of working and living in New York itself. I recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in both art direction and the publishing industry.

Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET)


My name is Robert Soto and I am an Illustration major. At the start of the spring semester of 2013 I was hunting for an internship with a scientific institution. I was determined to get experience working with scientists of any kind to produce illustrations that would tell me if I had what it takes to make Paleo reconstructions for a living. After a few weeks of emailing various parks and institutions with no luck I spoke to a professor of mine who had told us that he started out doing nature illustrations for a Marine research lab here in Maryland. I asked if could point me in the right direction for an internship or make an introduction and within a few days I had a meeting with Dr. Al Place atIMET and was given the opportunity to be the first scientific illustration intern they have had. I was hired before I even walked through the door, Al had a lot of respect for my professor work and knew the advantages to having a scientific illustrator on the team.

The Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) is a joint University of Maryland institute that draws form the scientific community in Maryland. The scientists at IMET conduct marine and environmental research tocreate technologies designed protect and restore coastal marine systems and their watersheds as well as sustainable use of their resources and improvement of human health. The projects I was involved in had to do with assessing the health of a specific ecosystem as well as marine biomedicine.

I was very proud to be able to produce an illustration diagraming the digestive system of an Atlantic Menhaden, which did not exist previously. I was given the chance to go on a sample collection trip with a team out into the Chesapeake Bay to observe how they collect specimens and data. Because the internship was designed by myself, it was up to me to find the projects that could benefit from a professional illustration. I was given opportunities and resources but it was up to me to make something of my time there and benefit from being around working biologists.

This internship with IMET was more beneficial to my career then I ever imagined. I was not only given the chance to produce illustrations that were used in papers and presentations but made contacts in scientific and artistic circles. It was exactly the kind of hands on experience I was looking for. I grew as an artist and developed a discipline for research and the study of specimens living and dead. Being an intern at IMET has confirmed my eagerness to work in the Scientific Illustration industry, tested my resolve and work ethic and rewarded my efforts with the foundation of a real career. This internship gave me confidence and showed me a successful, professional version of myself.

Chad Tyler



My name is Reese Siedlecki  and I am  Drawing major. Initially I approached one of my drawing teachers, Lauren Boilini, about possibly being a studio assistant for her this summer. She was unsure at the time if she was going to be going abroad or not this summer for a residency in Europe, and when it was confirmed that she was accepted to the residency she told me about one of her studio mates at School 33 Art Center in Federal Hill, Chad Tyler. Lauren gave me his contact information and told me he would possibly need an assistant this summer for some of his projects. I sent him an e-mail inquiring if he did need one, and then sent him my resume and a portfolio highlighting sculptural work I’ve done since that was the nature of the art I would be helping him with. He promptly replied and accepted me as his intern, I met with him during spring semester to see his studio space, meet him in person, and to figure out a basic outline of when I would be working with him over the summer.
                  Chad Tyler is an exhibit designer for the National Aquarium but I helped him work on his own personal projects. Our initial main project wound up being set aside and we had to change our plans due to large projects Chad had to complete for his job in addition to Chad’s work being accepted into shows. So the two main projects I worked on were the Animal Kingdom: Untitled series and the Animal Kingdom: The General State of Things piece. For the General State of Things piece I was responsible for recasting and replacing all of the plastic animals used in the piece. For the Untitled series I plaster casted several sets of the animal molds to be used in the final compositions.  After finishing the plastic animals my focus shifted to completing the plaster casts. Chad and I constructed a wooden template to use so we could create different sized pieces for the Untitled series. Once I had casted enough plaster animals I was given the freedom to create final compositions of my own for the Untitled series. After casting the compositions into their plaster base I then shifted my responsibilities to cleaning and finishing the pieces I made so they would be ready for mounting. 
Working with Chad I learned so many new skills and techniques that I’m excited to bring back into my own art practice. I feel more confident now working with drills and saws and other materials I would have been apprehensive working with such as plastic resin. One of the biggest take-aways I have from this experience is overcoming the fear of asking for help from others. Chad was a fantastic teacher, he was very patient with me and was always there and ready to help me should I need it but never hovering over me. In fact Chad gave me a lot of freedom and really wanted to hear my input and suggestions for the projects we worked on. This experience has given me a view into one of many paths of an artist, as Chad manages to work in a full-time creative position while simultaneously working on freelance projects as well as his own independent art. In terms of helping me clarify my own career goals, it hasn’t necessarily narrowed down anything but rather it’s given me more options to choose from.

Anthony’s Park Mobile Arts and Recycle Center


My name is Amanda Almarshoud and I’m a Sophomore General Fine Arts Major with a prospective Minor in Art History and a Concentration in Sustainability and Social Practice. My 2013 summer internship was unexpectedly spent at the Anthony’s Park Mobile Arts and Recycle Center. While staying in Baltimore for a majority of the summer, I naturally took my extra time in the city to explore interesting areas. I stumbled upon Anthony’s Park Mobile Arts and Recycle Center in Highlandtown, right next to one of my favorite Indian/ Nepalese grocery stores. I walked into the center, talked to two women chatting about the neighborhood over drinks, and ended up spending the next half hour sitting and talking with them. One of the women, Nancy, was the owner of the center and said she was going to be selling merchandise ad running a workshop at a huge block sale called Blockenstein the next morning. I asked if she needed help selling items and whatnot, and she was delighted to have me help her. After that, I continued to come into the center to see what new events were happening, and what I could help with. I found Anthony Park to be in an extremely diverse community that worked with a variety of artistic ventures. I became her intern shortly after volunteering for her for some time.
When I first walked into the center, Nancy explained her new vision for the space. I was very excited to help her accomplish her goals. Nancy and I hosted workshops for the children in the neighborhood most of the time. When workshops weren’t being held, we would sell merchandise and organize supplies to make room for all the events she wanted to be held at the center. A large component of working at Anthony’s Park was immersing myself in the community and really getting to know the people that lived and worked in the area. I found being a part of this community was the most rewarding experience of my internship. Anthony’s Park serves as an encouraging, safe, and artistic environment for children, and adults as well. Having had the chance to contribute to the positivity in the community through art workshops and good conversation, I feel quite grateful.
Towards the end of my internship, Nancy and I conducted many off-site workshops for children in many different locations. I’ve never worked with children, so being able to facilitate their art-making process, happened to be an artistic experience for me too. Children are so open to new ideas. I realized this through watching them respond to my suggestions, reactions, and silliness. Also, I learned the steps taken to formulate, prep, setup, and conduct a workshop in classroom and festival settings. Learning how to create a fun experience for children in a variety of locations helped me understand what can be done in certain spaces and what can’t. This internship put me in a position to think about how others would experience making art. Now, I plan to use more emphatic elements in my artwork. I will also use my knowledge of offsite workshops in my public installation work. Though I don’t want to conduct children’s workshops in the future, I’d love to make installation that call for public interactions in interesting and alarming locations.

Yiull Damaso, Artist



My name is Tess Wypkema and I am a sophomore Sculpture major. A year ago I established contact on Facebook with Yiull Damaso after hearing about him from a friend. I asked him to look at my work and he responded and gave me a positive review. I decided that since I was going back to South Africa for Summer 2013, that I would send him a message and ask if he would let me intern for him and he thought that it would be a fantastic idea.

Yiull Damaso is an independent artist in South Africa. He primarily paints in oil and mixed rust medium. He owns a gallery space which also functions as his studio. His work is often political and he is well known in South Africa for painting portraits of Nelson Mandela. His controversial painting the “Night Watch” made headlines worldwide.  He has recently started curating and hosting shows for up and coming artists at his Gallery. Since Yiull runs his gallery single handedly, he was my direct supervisor and I spent most of my time with him – both of us working together.

Putting together Loyiso Mkezi’s solo show and opening night was the biggest part of this internship and what I am most proud of. Loyiso Mkezi is an up and coming artist from Cape Town and this show was his opportunity to be introduced to the Joburg art market. I was involved with compiling a mailing list, coming up with marketing strategies to attract the press and public, rearranging and preparing the Gallery, talking to sponsors and curating the show. Yiull involved me in all the meetings, discussions and decision making. Overall the show was a success and Loyiso managed to sell a good number of paintings. I was also involved in the everyday managing of the Gallery, assisting customers and updating the system.  A lot of time was spent curating Yiull’s work at different locations. I also designed posters for the “Release Nelson Mandela Campaign” and also went on a tour of Soweto (the area where Mandela grew up.)

The biggest take away from this experience was the connections I made and all the people that I was able to meet through Yiull. I had so many fascinating and helpful conversations with Yiull and all the wonderful people who were involved in his Studio. I learned more about how the art scene in South Africa functions, useful tips about pricing my work, more about South African politics and what works when setting up a Solo Show and opening night. Yiull Damaso is quite a character and this was a delightful experience that I will never forget. My only regret is that I didn’t have more time spend there and that I didn’t have time to try out his rust technique.

I think that this clarified that it can be tough being an Artist in South Africa, but that it is possible to do well. It confirmed that the South African art world is small and I think if I have a choice I’d rather work overseas where it seems like there are more possibilities for an artist.


Flix FX


   My name is Connie Chong and I am an Interdisciplinary Sculpture major. I had a wonderful experience during my internship with a small properties company (prop shop) in Hollywood. I learned a great many things, one of the most important was to remember that there is a hierarchy, the bigger lesson was that when there are several managers and or bosses the hierarchy is often complicated, but no matter how complicated it is up to you the employee to get it straight. There is also a lesson of trust, not only in others which is what I had learned in my previous experience at the Lyric Opera House, but in you. You have to push, and trust yourself that you can get the job done.
            Here is why:
If you don’t get the job done:
-       Bosses will obviously be extremely unsatisfied
-       The client of the job in which you were working for will be extremely unsatisfied
-       You will be harder on yourself than anyone else
With that being said there are exceptions. Luckily my employer Marc Pollack is very realistic with the time allotted for making props and sets. If there is a slight set back it is okay as long as the job is done in a reasonable time frame. By working on productions such as Disney’s Frozen, Walking with Dinosaurs, Turbo, etc. you realize all these jobs are fairly fast paced and you have to learn to exceed expectations. You also learn to work with a variety of people of multiple age groups and discipline.

I think the part that I enjoyed most was working with various people with various skills and just having to get to know them was a honor. I also thank Mr.Pollack and Mr.Newman for having me under their wing and cannot wait to get back to work with them when I come back home.  

Illume Candles




My name is Lydia Bickal and I am a Junior graphic design major at MICA. This summer I interned at Illume Candles in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I found out about this opportunity through a friend of the family that happens to be the president of Illume. She gave my name to the creative manager, April Mueller and after speaking with her and showing her a sampling of my work, I was hired as a paid intern for the summer. I was the first intern they’ve ever had, but after me they plan to have many more. Illume Candles creates fragranced candles and beauty products for their own brand as well as many outside clients. They create packaging for companies like Target, Anthropologie, Kohl’s, Sephora, Bed Bath & Beyond and many more. Not only does Illume create the beautiful outside of the candle, but they fill and fragrance the candles in-house as well. You can follow the product from ideation to execution all at Illume’s headquarters. My supervisor, April Mueller, was the creative manager for a team of four designers. She critiqued their work before it got sent out to the clients or produced. She was in charge of delegating and dividing tasks within the creative team. Addie, Cheryl, Taisha and Heidi made up the in-house creative team that I worked directly with. Whoever needed the most help with an upcoming project got my attention and April gave me more long term projects that I completed throughout my internship.

My responsibilities included the execution of mock-ups for clients to view and approve, the
creation of collection layouts, bottom labels and product photography, and working with Taisha to
create all of the marketing pieces for the summer. Clients gave us specific deadlines for when they
wanted to view the products we were proposing, so I helped the creative team create full plan-ograms,printed mocked up spreads as well as 3-D displays of each product and fragrance we wereproposing. Another large part of my job was working with the Marketing Director Jenny Peters to create catalogs, press kits, email blasts and Google advertisements. Taisha supervised my projects
as a part of the creative team and helped give me feedback on what I should fix or change.

The thing that I am most proud of from my internship is the catalog a created for our Eternal
Nomad collection of beauty products. The idea was to create a digital catalog for potential buyers
so they would want to start selling our line in their stores that is only currently being sold at
Sephora. I was given all the content but was told to make it clean, bright and fun. What I ended
up creating got a lot of praise within the company and I am very proud to say that I was a big
contributor.

The most important thing I learned at Illume is how to work within a team and that you can’t
design for yourself because it’s always about the client. This was definitely an adjustment coming
from art school where I could create what I wanted, but after my internship I realize that as a
working graphic designer I will have to adapt my design perspective to fit what sells. Also, working within a large team of people including product developers, buyers and managers, it is extremely important to communicate effectively. Illume was great about the transferring of ideas, so it was a great skill for me to acquire.

After my internship, my career goals have become more clear. I now know that I want to work
within the print realm of graphic design rather than digital or web media. I’m not 100% sure if I’d
want to do packaging specifically, but I did enjoy my time working with print and pattern design
so I would consider it. Illume gave me an insight into graphic design from the perspective of a
small in-house design team and I feel like someday I could see myself there or somewhere similar. I
greatly appreciate all that I learned at Illume this summer!

Cometti Collections

My name is Christina Kwiek and I am a Junior Graphic Design major with a focus in fiber and textiles. Throughout the duration of the summer of 2013, I was the graphic design intern for a vintage clothing and jewelry boutique in Syracuse, NY, called
Cometti Collections. Originally based in Florida, the owners of the boutique relocated to Upstate New York to open a new location in the heart of downtown Syracuse. In general
I found the internship search for places near the Syracuse area to be somewhat challenging on larger platforms, and I actually was able to get in contact with the owners of the business through Craigslist. I responded to the ad for a fashion–savvy graphic
design intern with my resume and a link to my portfolio site, and was hired for the position after a Skype and phone interview with one of the owners, Clare Cometti.

Cometti Collections is co-owned and operated by sisters Clare and Maria Cometti, who strive to create a boutique that brings young women a sense of unique personal style through authentic vintage clothing. The collection they present is not only representative of modern fashions, but also reworks vintage garments to provide women with a modern spin on classic trends while preventing quality fabrics from becoming textile waste. Clare was my direct supervisor, and is responsible for the visual and design aspect of the boutique, while Maria works mainly in the financial and buying side of the business.

As the graphic design intern for Cometti Collections, I was able to assist in producing a leave-behind item for buying trips, various promotional flyers for events and pop-up shops, invitations for a viewing party of the collection and a final series of infographics expressing the trends of each decade represented in the vintage collection. I was also able to assist with a photoshoot for the upcoming lookbook and website redesign, as well as gather a database of vintage images to be used in the future. However, I would have to say that I am most proud of the final series of infographics for each vintage decade, because it was a project where I could use my interest in editorial deign and fashion photography, while also making something that could relay the
signatures of the boutique to any young women looking to shop there.

Landing an internship with a local vintage clothing boutique, I was initially worried that my personal design interests and aesthetic would not align to those of the people I was working for. However, I am thrilled to say that I was wrong, and instead gained so much valuable experience in working for clients in the fashion industry and collaborating with others in a work setting. I have gained the ability to voice my own opinions and ideas better when working with a team, as well as understand how to take other ideas into consideration and compromise in order to design what best exemplifies the identity of the business. This experience has definitely solidified the fact that I would like to further a graphic design career in the field of fashion, and proved that working for a small business such as Cometti Collections can sometimes have the most rewarding outcome.