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Graphic Novels Are the Medium for Illustrator’s Storytelling

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Kit Seaton began her career in theatrical production, studying costume design at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and preparing costumes for several theaters, but soon realized that she preferred a different type of storytelling. The new assistant professor of art illustrated her first children’s book, “Nine Dragons: a Contemporary Fable,” soon after.

The co-founder of Kit & Cat Comics, who previously taught sequential art at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, holds an M.F.A. in illustration from the Hartford Art School and a B.F.A. in illustration from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Colorado.

Seaton wrote and illustrated her most recent young adult graphic novel, “Afar,” which was published in March.

What inspired you to pursue a career in illustration?

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, and I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the arts from a very young age — in large part because I had family members who were artists and supported the arts, and they, in turn, encouraged me. I started pursuing a career in theatrical production design while I was in undergrad, but learned through that process that my wheelhouse was in visual arts and, specifically, visual narrative and storytelling. I found comics as a medium in which I could combine my myriad of interests.

What are your research interests?

In a broad sense, I’m interested in how adaptations of our cultural mythologies inform our storytelling, especially for young adults. Currently, I am working on illustrating a graphic novel based on a Scottish fairy tale that deals with the psychological growth in the main character and how that alters the story’s structure.

What do you hope students get from your instruction and experience?

My hope is to provide students with practical tools to create their work, as well as tackle some of the obstacles they may experience throughout their careers. I encourage experimentation with mixed media so that students can learn the benefits of confidence working with a variety of tools. I teach discipline as a tool for both setting limitations in one’s work and as a practice for accomplishing personal goals.   

What would you like the general public to know about the art of illustrating graphic novels?

Illustrating a graphic novel is a lengthy process, and like any large project, requires a balance of passion and practicality. Overcoming perfectionism and resistance is a daily obstacle, but if one can accept that the creative work will have flaws, then there is always the prospect of the finished book. The goal is always to finish the book, because then you’re free to begin something new.