Veronika Hammond is a junior illustration major at Montclair State University. She designed the cover and interior artwork for the book “Outgrowing: Stories From the LGBTQ+ Community,” through the Writing Wrongs literary journalism program. Hammond spoke with The Montclarion staff writer Zoe Nolz to talk more about her artwork.
Q: How did you get into making art?
A: You [generally] start drawing when you’re really young, so you just kind of [learn to] draw all the time; because in kindergarten, you don’t really know about math and stuff so [instead] they just give you crayons. So, you just start drawing when you’re very small.
I guess I got more serious about it toward the end of middle school [since] I was reading a lot of comics. This is embarrassing, but I’m a huge My Chemical Romance fan, so I was reading all the comics and I tried to draw the different art in the comic books. So just [from] trying to mimic different styles, I learned how things work and how anatomy works, and I took a bunch of art classes in high school from the very beginning because I wanted to get better at it; and it turned out to be not [so] bad. So yeah, [it] just kind of went from there.
Q: You said you are an illustration major. Would you say that type of art is your specialty, or are there other types of art that you like to make too?
A: I probably do regular drawing [and] illustration the most, just because I think it’s really accessible and [because] you can just do it whenever. But I like all kinds of art. I do video editing, I do animation, I do sculpture and painting. For class last year, we had to do performance art, which I’ve never done before and I might not do it again, but it was really fun and interesting. So I do illustration the most but I like to try new stuff.
Q: Can you tell us about the book that you designed the cover and interior artwork for and about what the process was like?
A: The book is called “Outgrowing: Stories From the LGBTQ+ Community.” I actually found out about the whole internship-volunteer thing because I’m in the Honors Program and they send out emails every so often that are like, “Hey you should apply to this.” So I applied to it.
I applied to be a print designer, and I didn’t have the skills to be a print designer at the time, but I just thought it sounded interesting because it [included] three days [that] you get to stay in a hotel, you get food, you get to meet cool people, and talk to people and just make this really cool book. So I figured I’d apply, even though I was not qualified, and I got in. Then I showed up and they wanted us to do things like [Adobe] InDesign and Illustrator. I know a little bit of that, but I didn’t know the ins and outs of print design, so they [were] like “You can just draw stuff and go crazy with illustrating.” So I just kind of did that.
And then I stayed up, all of us [actually] stayed up until 3 a.m. each day to finish the work for the next day so that we could actually have the book done. But it was really fun and crazy and a lot of work, and we got to talk to the people who [were] volunteering and people who were just kind of part of the whole volunteer process. It was really interesting and I learned a lot from them. The whole organization is called Writing Wrongs and it’s all led by Dawn Heinbach, and she’s super cool [and] super smart.
Q: How has your experience at Montclair State helped you with your career as an artist?
A: I really like Montclair [State] because there are a whole bunch of people from everywhere who are interested in everything. I’m more into art because of comic books and things like that, [whereas] a lot of my friends are into fine arts, like making abstract stuff. But I also talk to kids who got into art because they like anime. I don’t watch anime, but it’s neat that people got into art because of [anime] or cartoons. I get to see all these different reasons that people got into art and how we all kind of ended up in the same place. So I’ve definitely been learning about different types of art and different introductions to art.
Q: Where can people get copies of the book?
Q: From who, what or where do you usually get artistic inspiration from?
A: I get a lot of inspiration from history. I guess I like to look into niche historical things or just other art movements. I’m half Russian so I learned a lot about Russian culture. Portraits of Russian royalty or famous people from Russian history like [Alexander] Pushkin is very fun.
I guess I [also] do a lot of nature type paintings. The front cover of the book is a pansy, which is kind of a play on the LGBTQ+ community [with] flowers. There’s that insult where they called gay people a pansy, so it’s a play on that, but making it look really pretty and nice. I get a lot of inspiration [from] nature. I like going on hikes and I’ll take pictures of pretty flowers and plants and try to draw them when I get home. I [also] do a lot of portraiture. I think people have a lot of nice faces, [and] I try to draw their faces sometimes. And yeah, I like looking at things and looking at the past and trying to recreate it.
Q: Where do you see yourself 10 years after you graduate?
A: I’m trying to get into art therapy. I’m studying psychology as a minor because I think it’s really cool, but I think I’d like to do art therapy and get a master’s in it. That way it’s combining art, which I’m really passionate about, and also helping people. I really like people, so I think that’d be fun, and combining these things that I care a lot about.