Visual art students deserve our attention


Isaac Trusty

Cartoonist Isaac Trusty illustrates Jack Arends Hall, School of Art and Design in five different styles, showing the many dimensions there are to art students and their work.

By Lucy Atkinson, Assistant Opinion Editor

Stepping into NIU’s School of Art and Design building for the first time feels a bit like stepping into a miniature wonderland.

Paintings and sketches of all colors adorn the walls; and curious statues, spectacular displays or sculpted characters are hidden in nearly every corner.

Each turn seems to reveal some imaginative surprise, transforming a short walk into a profoundly unique journey. 

NIU’s art students, the students who bring this wonderland to life, are spread out across a colorful variety of majors: from painting and drawing to sculpture.

Many more are education majors, working towards a career sharing their artistic passions with others.

Beckett Pamplin is a sophomore art student at NIU and has been making art since their early childhood. By age 12 he was spending 10-12 hours a day watching YouTube videos to sharpen his skills and making sketches as an outlet for his passion for anime.

“I can point you to some really great shows. Like ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’ is visually just stunning, and I wanted to be able to make that. I wanted to be able to make things that gave people the feelings I got when I was watching those,” Pamplin said.

Today, Pamplin takes art courses working towards an illustration major, including printmaking where their class is currently etching patterns into copper plates to create artistic prints. 

“I think, other than hopefully owning like 1000 dogs, I would really like to do some kind of storytelling with my artwork (after graduation),” Pamplin said. “I’ve always had a fascination with comics … I love illustration. Doing concept design for video games would be fantastic.”

Pamplin’s story however, is perhaps most special for the outlook he shares: A view of an artistic world not limited by unnecessary definitions for what makes an “artist” and fostered by love, the real wonderland.  

At heart, Pamplin believes that anyone can be an artist and that art can be found in every profession. 

“I think being an artist is more of an attitude than a skill set. You know, it’s the creativity you bring to every problem … It’s this sort of this passion for doing things and, you know, wanting to do it right and just loving what you do that makes a lot of things art,” Pamplin said. “I think you can be a scientist and be an artist. I know you can code like an artist … You can absolutely do that with this kind of artistic mindset of having this vision, and going for it, and the kind of reckless passionate abandon that gets you in trouble.”

With that, the truth is confirmed. 

Regardless of your major or whatever you consider your artistic skill to be, the exhibits of NIU’s art department are far more than worthy of your attention. They are celebrative of your own joys, adorations, quirky loves and deepest passions.   

The School of Art and Design leaves its visitors particularly cognizant of the beauty our species can foster. So yes, drop by for a day; you’ll not regret exploring this rabbit-hole.