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Feature: Graphic Design Student Carly Smyth

Art student, Carly Smyth, continues to work her way into the graphic design industry after suffering severe Ulcerative Colitis.

Carly Smyth is one very talented artist. Pencil to paper and this girl has the skill to blow almost anyone away. Approximately 18 months ago Carly was stricken down with a terrible illness that nearly cost her not only her education, but also her life.

Her Education.

Carly Smyth is currently in her second year of a Diploma in Graphic Design at Chisholm Tafe. She is also enrolled to complete the Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design in 2012.

Her illness.

In February 2010, just after she had started her second year at Tafe, Carly was admitted to hospital with severe stomach pains. She was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.

Ulcerative Colitis is a disease in which your large intestine fights your immune system to the point that it kills off that part of your body. Studies suggest that between 16,000- 33,000 people in Australia are living with this disease at one time, and approximately 800 new cases are diagnosed each year. A very small number of Australians also die from this disease each year.* The causes are still unknown, however stress and certain foods are thought to trigger the symptoms.

There are many anti-inflammatory medications available for treatment of Ulcerative Colitis and the side affects vary depending on the severity of the case. In some cases they do not work.

They did not work for Carly.

After over two months in and out of hospital (mostly in) Carly was recommended by her doctor to get an ileostomy operation. Basically, she had her large intestine removed. This ‘cured’ her of Ulcerative Colitis.

Over all she was sick for almost seven months, and it still affects her life everyday.

Carly has grown to have a very positive outlook to her illness and the positive affect it has had on her artwork and overall drive.

“It made me hungrier for it. I did not want to quit after one year of study. It’s a massive passion of mine and I just want to be doing it. Its something that I never want to give up on it’s the love of my life,” she said.

Her Artwork.

Before Carly got sick she almost considered her talent a burden. She felt that people always expected her to produce a very high quality of work, and would get terrified before each project no matter how big or small.

Since her recovery she has learned to appreciate her gift, and knows she is very lucky to have the skills that she has.

“I am really happy about it, I know I’m really lucky to have it. I get really excited to do my work now; I’m really excited for my next project. Before I would freak out about it and I almost didn’t want to do it,” she said.

Carly’s work has also grown since her illness. She does not necessarily contribute that to being sick, but also to her growth as an artist. The mediums in which she uses for her work have also altered, although she still has one love.

“It was gray leads from the start”, she said.

Yet these days she does a lot work with fine liners and sketching. She has found a new love in line work. Carly also notes that although computer generated work can look more proficient; illustration is her passion and something that she aims to stick to.

“Although computer generated work can look more professional illustration is really dying out because younger kids are just seeing computers as the easier option,” she said.

Her Goals.

Carly’s ideal job is to work in the magazine industry.

“My ten year plan,” she jokes, then she shifts to a more serious tone, “pretty much, I want to work in magazines, ever since I was thirteen.”

Carly talks of her love of magazines, and her fear that they are dying out due to digital media.

“Print media is just dying because of the Internet, everything is digital. But there is nothing better than instead of searching Google just picking up a book and realizing that that in it self is design,” she said.

She also wants to promote and assist local, upcoming, independent and less known artists. She aims to use her passion to help promote others.

“For me magazines and illustrations are what I want to do and make the community aware of how many creative people there are out there. And show what people are capable of,” she said.

Carly knows exactly where she is going, and at the moment she is working on how to get there. Currently she is working on an exhibition with her Tafe and is hoping to network and show off her talent. She is also talking to her teachers daily and just keeping her eyes and ears open for any opportunities that arise.

“Getting into those places is a hard thing, you cant just go to these places and say hire me. They want a life long resume behind you before they left you in the place. It is a hard industry to get into. I really just have to the goal at the moment to finish school. Once I do that I will just talk to all my teachers and talk to their connections and just network myself. That industry is connections.” She said.

Her Inspiration.

Like most artists, Carly has her favorites that tend to inspire her.

“I have a few illustrators like Audrey Kawasaki and Bec Winnel. People like that who work with big companies like Hurley and that, because fashion is now moving more towards illustrators,” she said.

However Carly gains most of her inspiration from everyday life, everyday photographs, old photographs and everyday people.

“Its more about observation, you can see a person just walking down the street that is kind of weird but you really like it. Different things can inspire you. It can be anything really,” She said.

She also discusses her friends and family as inspiration. They especially inspired her throughout her illness.

“Of course my friends and family inspire me, they keep the ball rolling with me, keep me going,” she said.

The different forms of inspiration really shine through in Carly’s artwork.

What next?

Carly claims her biggest achievement so far is just having people admire her artwork.

Chisholm Tafe is holding an exhibition to show off the student’s artwork. With the work that Carly has produced it is easy to suggest that many people will not only be admiring her artwork, but also falling in love with it.

Opening night is August 2nd, 6pm at the Cardinia Cultural Centre, Lakeside Boulevard, Pakenham Victoria 3810. All are welcome

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