Hey, thank you so much! I would say use your sophomore year to experiment with your artwork as much as humanly possible. Go out and see as much of Sarasota (and Venice and Tampa and St. Pete!) as you can. There are so many beautiful places for inspiration around here that are easy to miss the further you get into the curriculum and start spending more and more time in these smelly labs (where I am right now haha). If you do this during sophomore year and figure out what you actually really like to do and where you want to go when you graduate, you’ll be able to effectively use your junior year to build a voice and a portfolio for yourself. One of the great things about the illustration program here is that the teachers really let you dictate the direction of your work. If you could tell from the show, the diversity and expanse of styles in the dept is much greater than the other majors. It’s awesome but it means it’s up to you to decide whether you want to gear yourself towards children’s books or digital sculpting or visual development or whatever it is you like, and you can’t know what you like to do until you do it so explore! You would not believe how many students get to second semester junior year and still don’t have a portfolio that is solid in any one area. It makes it tough to market yourself to recruiters. Obviously you should keep experimenting on the side and in electives but my advice is to, starting junior year, use your main illustration class to build a consistent voice for yourself. But for next year when you come back, just enjoy media class and get to know the professors and the older students in the major. The illustration dept is amazing and there are so many incredibly supportive people to help along the way. My last piece of advice is also don’t be surprised if you end up doing something waaay different than you envisioned when you applied to the school, and that’s ok! Maybe you were dead set on doing visual development for Disney but then - holy shit, you do an amazing horror illustration and all of a sudden that’s what you’re best at. Don’t force any pre-conceived ideas of what illustration is, just do what you feel comfortable doing and play to your strengths. Hope this wall of text is helpful! Feel free to email me any time if you’d like to talk about Ringling anymore. Good luck!