Students get creative during School of Illustration’s bi-annual Costume Carnival, inspired by “The Addams Family”
By Caroline Andrade
A living room featuring a fireplace in the center, a bold red vintage couch on one side and a table covered in a black webbed-pattern tablecloth on the other seems perfectly normal at first glance. Almost. But a second look reveals a wooden box placed on top of the table with a hand popping out as if it’s waving at someone and a skeleton stands tall at the other end of the room. This spooky scene was inspired by “The Addams Family” which was the theme of this year’s Costume Carnival held at Academy of Art University’s School of Illustration (ILL) last month.
The venue was filled with much enthusiasm from Academy students, alumni, and instructors who poured into Bradley Hall at 540 Powell on the morning of Oct. 19 to participate in the six-hour drawing marathon. As the event unfolded, models portraying characters from “The Addams Family” gracefully lined up on stage, each in their own element to welcome all those who had joined them that morning.
“We work very hard on giving a cohesive theme every time we do it. This year, it’s ‘The Addams Family’ because it happens close to Halloween. We usually do some dark-tinged theme for the fall session and springtime is more festive,” said ILL Director Chuck Pyle. “We get around 10 models, costumes, sets, and props, that way students have a chance to draw more than just a standard clothed-figure model, but you get to have a storytime and [can] draw more than just the people.”
ILL Model Coordinator Veronique Bohne explained she usually starts by picking a theme as soon as she gets the date two months ahead of the carnival. “I cast different models according to the theme. … I work with the cast thinking [about] what they’re going to wear and I try to use what we already have in the costume room.”
For the carnival, she asked the models to work together and communicate with each other and come up with short stories “for the audience to draw, paint, and photograph.”
Bohne shared that there were nine models representing “The Addams Family” characters at the carnival, including Gomez and Morticia, Wednesday, Grandma, Lurch, Uncle Fester, a black widow named Debbie Jelinsky, and a couple known as Mr. Tully Alford and Mrs. Margaret Alford who arrive as guests. Bohne also took part in the carnival’s story as an invented character, “Pubert’s godmother,” and held a doll wrapped in a black swaddle for three poses, one on each set.
ILL student Daria Nonkin was one of the first students to arrive at Bradley Hall and claimed a drawing spot right in front of the main stage. “I love drawing the costumes they have here, [and] the different characters they have,” she said, adding, “I’ve seen ‘The Addams Family,’ some of the show [and] most of the movies, and I have specifically been drawn to Morticia and her character design.”
During the event, Nonkin uses both pencils and pens “just because [there are] no mistakes and you are more focused on the figure and the motion of it first, so you don’t worry about the details.”
Drawing on his iPad using the Procreate app was ILL student Hao Zheng, whose focus is in traditional illustration, which captured his sketches of models Connie Foster and Jessica Chan dressed as Grandma Addams and Wednesday Addams, as they stood holding a hand saw pointed at each other.
“It’s pretty fun,” said Zheng. “This has a lot more brushes and then you don’t need to suffer from [using] charcoal or pen.”
Tucked to the right of the hall was a set that featured a graveyard among trees, with an empty wooden bench placed on one side and complete with tombstones that read R.I.P. on the other. There, stood models Brian Gabel and Millie Marcelin dressed as The Alfords, with Marcelin taking a deep sigh and Gabel holding a briefcase while projecting aggression, painting quite the picture of the couple that isn’t a fan of the Addams’.
“[B]ecause I’m an artist I kind of like to compose myself and model in a way to help everyone else, said Marcelin, also an ILL student. “I try and be as expressive as possible, and I try to hold my poses as long as possible just so that everyone gets the best out of a situation.”