The opinion section of The Montclarion is home to some of Montclair State University’s strongest voices — and artists.
Meet the many faces and creative hands at work behind the illustrations used in the paper each week, a product of Montclair State’s animation/illustration program, where each student has their own unique creative process, inspirations and outside hobbies.
Polly Londis (Senior, Joined Fall 2019, @cartoonishly on Instagram)
Having created a handful of illustrations for The Montclarion, Londis continues her artistic efforts outside of the school newspaper through her YouTube channel, @Cartoonishly, where she has several animated videos that range from song lyrics to animated versions of “The X-Files” or video games like “Hitman.” She is also focused on her animation thesis, which is centered around two cats having a dance battle.
Her free time is usually spent working out. For Londis, exercise sparks her creativity. The shows she watches, such as “Arcane,” also affect her art, as does what she plays on Xbox. In fact, Londis can easily earn five stars on any “Just Dance” song challenge that is thrown at her.
With how inspired she is by what she watches and plays, it follows that her future goals are to work in 3D on games or as an artist for Cartoon Network.
Ian Long (Senior, Joined Spring 2020, @drawnlong on Instagram)
Before Long became Production Editor of The Montclarion for the 2021-2022 school year, they were first an illustrator for the paper. Since then, they have created several illustrations, each taking anywhere from two to 10 hours to finish.
Long’s personal work is a combination of traits from their favorite artists, such as illustrators on Instagram like @hannahpahl, @nikiusagi and @zebrakadebra, all melded together to create their own, unique style. They also look at vintage decor, textiles and fashion for inspiration.
Their senior thesis project, which is a collection of 12 illustrations based on a theme, is focused on lifestyle editorial work.
In the future, Long hopes to get into creative hobbies like jewelry and rug making and become an editorial illustrator, in addition to volunteering with a local animal shelter. In their free time, Long is either reading, walking, playing “Animal Crossing” or thrifting.
Kelly Weckstein (Senior, Joined Fall 2021, @bunnibrainart on Instagram)
Heavily inspired by various types of fashion, fantasy media and animated films by Studio Ghibli, Weckstein lives and breathes art each and every day.
After graduating in the fall of the next school year, she plans to make a lifelong career out of it, in particular, working with 2D and 3D animation, character designs/concepts or visual story development. She hopes to create her own 2D animated series or graphic novel, possibly even starting a business where she would design clothing and accessories.
When she isn’t practicing drawing or focused on other forms of art like writing stories and poetry, Weckstein can be found running as a part of Montclair State’s cross country and indoor/outdoor track team.
Antonio Rizzo (Senior, Joined Fall 2021, @ant.makes.art on Instagram)
Though he only just joined The Montclarion, Rizzo has already created two illustrations for the paper.
Whether he’s painting or creating digital work for the paper or just for personal enjoyment, Rizzo feels his art is a way for him to capture moments in life. He immediately jumps into the creation process after feeling inspired by something he encounters in his day-to-day life. This consists mainly of the people he’s around, like his friends.
“I like to capture the things I do with them or just the memories we share so that they can last a little longer for me,” Rizzo said.
Currently, he is working on illustrations for one of his best friend’s books, as well as his senior thesis project. Otherwise, he’s usually catching up on the latest entertainment, whether it’s a deep, emotionally mature film or a children’s movie.
Anaïs St. Amant (Sophomore, Joined Fall 2021, website: https://www.anaisstamant.com/)
For St. Amant, an illustration can take anywhere between three to four hours, as her creative process consists of first doing research, followed by doodling with a pencil to determine the subject and composition, before bringing the idea to the computer on programs like FireAlpaca and Photoshop. Choosing the right color is a challenging but very important decision for St. Amant, which is why she isn’t afraid to experiment when needed.
She is inspired by observing how the world works and by artists like Maruti Bitamin and Posuka Demizu, who create unique pieces motivated by ordinary ideas.
She aspires to do freelance work for clients in book publishing one day, more specifically with children’s books and comics. In the meantime, she’s currently writing an independent webcomic she hopes to launch later this year.
Some fun facts about St. Amant are that she collects small plushies, sews and takes care of two Shih Tzus, Ruby and Rocco.
Maria Rashidah Manongdo (Junior, Joined Fall 2021, @rashidahdraws on Instagram)
Drawing has been Manongdo’s whole life, which is why she is always working to build up her portfolio and eventually hopes to be a concept artist for films or games. She often finds herself daydreaming or playing games such as “League of Legends,” “Valorant” and “Dungeons and Dragons,” which have been the inspiration behind some of her favorite pieces of art.
When it comes to illustrating for The Montclarion, she feels the talented writers are the ones that help her stretch her skills as she works to accommodate their ideas.
Otherwise, she simply follows whatever her hands want her to draw. She has also been working on starting up her own sticker and print store on Etsy.
Not only does she love drawing and art itself, but she also adores hermit crabs, including her own pets Cove and Vito.
Sophia Caparros (Junior, Joined Fall 2021, @sopca.art on Instagram)
While Caparros is an illustrator who primarily enjoys working digitally, she has also picked up on other arts and crafts, including embroidery, felting and punch needling, as well as hobbies like yoga and cooking.
Her art style draws inspiration from zoology, mythology, history and philosophy. It is also greatly impacted by cartoons she watched when she was younger, such as “Chowder” and its interesting character designs and moving textures. This also correlates to her motivation to try out funkier color palettes and bright colors in her work.
Caparros aims to be a children’s book author or graphic novelist. After that, she would hope to work as a high school art teacher, as this is where she initially fell in love with art.
Caparros feels as long as you enjoy drawing, you’re already an artist under any conditions.
“If you love making things and put all of your effort into it, you’re an artist,” Caparros said. “And all the other artists in the world are probably happy to see what you make.”
Ruthy Villa (Sophomore, Joined Fall 2021, @revagaize on Instagram)
Villa, who draws and paints both digitally and traditionally, is currently expanding her portfolio and is focusing on experimenting with background illustration and character design. What inspires her art the most is her Afro-Latina cultural background and deep interest in fantasy and mythology.
In the future, she would like to design book covers, illustrate children’s books and create her own graphic novels. She would also want to venture into the animation industry, as well as create concept art and storyboards.
Villa is working on launching her own small business, which consists of a handmade tote bag shop that features most of her artwork. The shop is centered around her Christian faith and spreads the message of modesty, as Villa is always exploring different fashion styles.
Zack Spangler (Junior, Joined Fall 2021, @calamity_zack on Twitter)
Spangler mostly paints digitally, but he also enjoys 3D modeling and animating. When working on his projects, the process begins by first jotting his idea down in a notebook. Later, he puts on music (relevant to his idea if possible) and sketches until he creates something he likes. Then, he can build off of it.
His art is mainly inspired by his favorite comic book artists, Mike Mignola and Frank Miller, and Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time,” as it’s a show with a simple premise that unfolds into a grand narrative as you watch. He is working hard to grow his Twitter art account and create enough pieces to be able to participate in artist alleys this year.
Spangler advises those interested in art to focus on improving their skills as opposed to weighing their progress against others.
“If your drawings are better now than they were a week ago, you’re on the right track,” Spangler said. “Don’t compare your own creative journey to your neighbor’s.”
Maxwell Best (Sophomore, Joined Spring 2022, @maxwell.best on Instagram)
A recent member to join the illustration team after moving from Florida, Best is excited to meet new people and spend time doing what he loves. His art is typically inspired by what he visualizes as he reads or watches something, leading him to want to be an illustrator for Marvel or a video game company in the future.
As an illustrator, he finds art blocks can be annoying but is also constantly learning new things he can improve.
Aside from drawing, he is usually cooking, hiking or hanging out with his girlfriend and friends.