Assembling an Artist

Spotlight Date: 
September 25, 2015
Sophia Hullinger
Digital Media senior Sophia Hullinger has been making art like crazy. Her digital collages can take up to 20 hours to complete, with over 70 layers in Photoshop, and she isn’t slowing down. 
“I've always had an interest in art and photography that turned more serious in 7th and 8th grade, but I didn't have much confidence because I hadn't had any formal art training. Once I got into Dreyfoos, I quickly learned the principles and techniques … Now I see no end in sight.” 
Sophia heard about Dreyfoos from her best friend, who was auditioning for theatre. “We both got in, and now I thank her every opportunity that I get … Dreyfoos has given me the opportunity to focus on art and grow not just as an artist, but also a person.  I've found that all the effort that I've put in has come back to me tenfold, in the relationships that I've built, things I've been able to achieve, and the opportunities to share my artwork.”
Throughout her years at Dreyfoos, Sophia has been inspired by those around her. “I think that being constantly exposed here to all different kinds of artists and their work has most influenced my art. Juries and critiques let me see how other people think and approach their work, which has influenced my work as a result.  When I was a Freshman and Sophomore, I admired the Juniors' and Seniors' work immensely, and that pushed me to work hard to try and be as good as they were.”
Sophia also cites her experiences through the student ambassador program People 2 People as inspiration for her work. The past two summers she has gone on three week long trips to Europe and Australia. “We spent most of our time meeting the people there and experiencing how they live …  Even though the program wasn't specifically for art, it definitely impacted my artwork in terms of a global consciousness.”
As for her own approach to her digital collages, Sophie starts with a concept and plans out the composition in her sketchbook. “I'll go through photos that I've taken and fragments of imagery that I've found in magazines, looking for materials to construct what I have in my head.  The 20+ images that I've chosen go onto a Photoshop document, and I move, cut, blend, and add details until I end up with something that I feel conveys what I'm trying to say.”
When not creating her art, Sophia spends her time enjoying another love of hers – music, or trying to to learn as much as possible about literature, philosophy, politics, and world news. She hopes to continue her education in art, either at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) or the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). 
“I'm really interested in the social impact of art, so programs like MICA's BFA in Humanities and SAIC's Visual Communications Design, programs that have an emphasis on all of the liberal arts, are what I would love to be in.  I want to eventually make artwork and create campaigns for non-profit organizations to get their message out there in a way that inspires people to act, or just to make them think about an issue.”
Whatever she pursues, Sophia believes that Dreyfoos has impacted her immensely. “The biggest thing that Dreyfoos has taught me is to think critically and have my own original voice, which I feel can be applied to anything I go into. Dreyfoos to me is a rare place where whatever your goals are, or whatever problems you have, people will be there to help you.  It's truly going to break my heart to leave this oasis of love and support.”