Walnut Hill School for the Arts

Catching Up with Kippy Sage '18

This past spring, 10 students at Ringling College of Art + Deisgn, including our own Kippy Sage, had the opportunity to work with the Smithsonian American Art Museum to create comics for the Drawn to Art: Ten Tales of Inspiring Women Artists series. Kippy illustrated a comic about Maria Oakey Dewing titled "A Garden-Thirsty Soul." We caught up with Kippy to chat about this exciting project, in addition to her college experience and her artistic life.


Why did you choose to attend Ringling College of Art + Design after graduating from Walnut Hill, and what has your college experience been like so far?

I researched and toured several different art schools, but Ringling caught my attention because of their motto: “Shattering the myth of the starving artist.” I appreciated the school’s focus on commercial art, and teaching students skills that we can use to pursue successful careers in the art world. I enjoy both the creative and the business side of art, and Ringling’s community places great value on both. The professors are incredibly skilled, with lots of experience in the industry.

Ringling holds its students to high standards, so my college experience has been defined by hard work with rewarding results. I spend most of my time focusing on schoolwork or working on personal illustration projects. In my free time, I like to go out and draw Sarasota’s scenery, hang out with friends at the beach, and go rollerskating!


Tell us about your recent collaboration with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Drawn to Art, and the comic you created as part of this project.

Something cool about Ringling is that they invite outside clients to hire students for projects. Last spring, the Smithsonian American Art Museum reached out to the school to hire artists for their Drawn to Art: Ten Tales of Inspiring Women Artists comic series. I was among 10 students hired for the project. The series celebrates 10 women artists, some of whom did not receive the recognition they deserved in their time. I chose to illustrate for Maria Oakey Dewing, a 19th-century floral painter and maverick of the aesthetic movement. 

From rough sketches to final polished illustrations, we corresponded directly with Smithsonian representatives and our professors to exchange ideas and receive feedback. It was a great experience, during which I learned about working with a big client. I’m glad I had this opportunity to get real-world experience with guidance from my professors along the way. 

I've always been interested in Victorian-era fashion as well as botanical art, so this comic was a lot of fun to create. I used a transition from full color, to sepia, and back to color to represent the presence of painting in Maria’s life. My favorite part of the process was illustrating all the colorful garden scenes. I am so proud of the work we have all accomplished with this series.


How has your artistic style changed or evolved since you started college?

I entered Ringling with a great artistic foundation thanks to Walnut Hill. I’d already had lots of experience with figure drawing and oil painting, for example. During my freshman year of college, I was working in a somewhat painterly style for my illustrations, but I wasn’t entirely sure what direction I wanted to take my art in. Over time, and with the advice and critique from my professors, I began moving away from that rendered style and embracing more stylized linework instead. 

My professors introduced me to illustration career paths I hadn’t considered before, and that has influenced my work. Now I am developing a style and portfolio that will help me pursue my artistic specialties (book illustration, print and pattern design, fashion illustration, apparel design, character design, etc.). 


Do you have any advice for our current seniors who are starting to make their post-Walnut Hill plans?

This advice is specifically for Visual Art majors: remember to keep practicing the basics! No matter what point you are at in your artistic journey, things like anatomy, color theory, and value will keep coming up over and over again. Art schools like Ringling are looking for a strong technical foundation when it comes to portfolios. 

Check out Kippy’s work at her Instagram and her website.

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