Congrats on your thesis/show! I'm a freshman illustrator at RCAD, (well, now that the year is over, rising sophomore) do you have any advice for going through the Ringling Illustration program?
ellegabAsked by ellegab

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!

Just found some extra prints from Megacon.  Hold on, BMO!  Message me if you want one.

My entry in the 2014 Meanchile Comic - see the entire issue here!

This is probably the most personal piece I’ve ever done.  I was dealing with the loss of both of my grandmas within a very short period of time and I found those themes of grief and loss showing up in the story I was telling.  Having people tell me how hard this little two-pager hit them has been overwhelming and humbling.  I hope you enjoy this story.  Rover out! <3

This is from a collaborative children’s book my school is putting together called “The Traveling Sock.”  Here’s my page featuring some laundry pirates on the hunt for the mysterious sock.  All the pages are looking great!

FREELOADERS is another series from my senior thesis.  It’s all about those lazy bums mooching off symbiotic relationships.  Also, I obviously like drawing goofy animals.

Another set from my senior thesis.  Sometimes you need to get away.  Far away.  BAD NEIGHBORS is my ultimate fantasy in solitude. 

charlottemao.com

Hey Megacon dudes! I’ll be at the Ringling College of Art and Design table drawing mad commissions n’ selling those Adventure Time buttons. Come say hello! Booth 824!