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Before and After SVA: Alex Graudins on Cartoon Allies, NYC as a Comics Hub and More

As a part of our series exploring what recent graduates are up to, we recently caught up with Alex Graudins (BFA 2015 Cartooning), who talked about her love for SVA’s Cartoon Allies, why New York City is great place for those making comics, a key piece of advice she took from Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar (BFA 2009 Animation) and more.

What have you been up to since graduation?

It’s hard to believe over a year has already gone by since I graduated! I’m currently a full-time freelancer and I’ve got a few jobs lined up. I contributed to the Dirty Diamonds Anthology: Issue no. 7: Imagination, and soon after was recommended by former teacher Nick Bertozzi to draw a chapter of Leslie Tolf’s educational graphic novel When the Rules Aren’t Right. I’m also working on creating short personal comics and debuted two new autobiographical minis (22 Until 22 and Nicknames) at SPX last fall.

Were you able to network through your SVA connections to help you get work?

I think it’s more accurate to say I took advantage of SVA’s resources, namely its NYC location, printing lab and the Cartoon Allies organization. Being in NYC made it more accessible to find comics-related events and conventions throughout the city, so I was continuing my studies even after class ended. I was also thrilled in my second year when I took Principles of Cartooning with Keith Mayerson because it gave me the opportunity to physically share my works with other artists at these events! Creating comics in class, printing them in the lab and selling them at conventions—or even just handing them out—gave me more of a reason to talk to people and practice talking about my own work. In fact, I have a job because I pushed myself to go to off-campus events with these comics!

As for Cartoon Allies, I could gush about the organization for hours, but I was an officer for over three years, so I’m biased (haha). I wouldn’t have met the upperclassmen that took me under their wing and continued to be supportive even after graduating. Whenever I think about my early years at SVA, I think of Cartoon Allies, and I’m so happy to know there’s students who will keep it running and help newcomers like me even after I’ve left.

What advice would you give to incoming students to get the best out of their SVA years?

There’s so much that I was taught that I want to pass down to the incoming classes, from Allison Strejlau’s Cartoon Allies visit emphasizing how important it is to find enjoyment in every project to Rebecca Sugar suggesting at an alumni panel that focusing your assignments on your weaker skills, such as perspective, gives you a chance to practice more and tackle your typical struggles.

The best thing I learned freshman year was to say “yes” to invitations more often and to take advantage of events happening on campus and around the city, even if I was nervous or didn’t have anyone to accompany me. Even if you’re just out for an hour, you never know, the experience could inspire your next project. I think Tom Woodruff even said at my SVA Open House something along the lines of, “You write based off your life experiences, but you’ll have no writing material if you don’t live your own life.”

To read more Before and After SVA interviews, click here.

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