The Sequential Arts Workshop (SAW), a school created to help burgeoning graphic novelists in Gainesville, kicked off their fifth year-long program on August 22.
Tom Hart, who had been teaching comics at New York City’s School of Visual Arts since 2001, decided the prices for art school were too high and the curriculum should be more informal. So, he moved back to Gainesville with his wife, Leela Corman, where he had lived in the early 90s. He said it seemed like the perfect place to nurture and add to an already creative community.
“Me and my wife had always thought about coming back,” said Hart. “We got tired of New York, and for a while you never think it’s gonna happen. And then it happens.”
Hart located the space that would become the school’s facility in 2011 and opened it up for informal classes in January 2012, with the first full class launching in August 2012.
“I wanted to create the school that I never went to,” he said. “I think it would’ve been the perfect school for me when I was 20 years old, or 22 or 24.”
The Sequential Arts Workshop’s Single-Year Core Program, beginning August 2016 and running until April 2017, offers four required classes: Storytelling Studio with executive director Tom Hart, Traditional Drawing with Justine Mara Anderson, Comics History with John Ronan, and a mixed class including figure drawing, dramatic storytelling, mask work, graphic novel reading and guest lectures.
Optional classes include Cartooning with Kurt Wolfgang, Gouache Painting/Journalism studio with Jess Ruliffson and Illustration/Non-Fiction Comics with Leela Corman.
The price for the four classes in the single-year program is $3,375. Each additional optional class is $350 each. Access to the studio throughout the day and a lot of printing supplies are included in student tuition.
Some of Hart’s past students include Sally Cantirino from the 2012-2013 class, who has since signed a publishing contract and is producing commercial work. She is currently working out of Gainesville, according to her website. Her art can be bought at inkanddestroy.storenvy.com.
Eric Taylor produces short stories and has placed in online contests like Comics Workbook. Some of his work can be found at southsprings.tumblr.com.
Anna Mack is a tattoo artist who works at Death or Glory in Gainesville.
Hart said another reason he was frustrated with the price of art schools in the United States is that it’s admittedly complicated and hard to make a living as an artist these days. At SAW, it’s his priority to give people the tools to make artwork as they need and get them in touch with their creative forces.
“We just want to make good artists,” he said. “And I think we’re doing that.”
By Kristina Orrego