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Welcome to arts, ink., where our student artists and writers are given a forum to illuminate the Michigan student experience through art. If you’re a U-M student interested in becoming a weekly contributor, there may be a position available to get paid for your work. We review applications and hire new bloggers twice a year, in September and January. Read more about Blogging Opportunities here!
Email us at arts@umich.edu with questions.

If you want a nice snapshot of some of our favorite posts from last year, check out the “Summer 2022 Reading List” tag!

Industrious Illustrating #20 – Childrens’ Book

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This week I’m continuing off of last week’s post by showing what the end result of my sketching and exploration process for this ARTDES 270 childrens’ book project looks like. I edited together 3.5″ x 3.5″ square illustrations and added text digitally to create a cover and four spreads.

If you saw last week’s post about the material explorations I did ahead of making the finished illustrations, you might recognize that I took cues from the thicker paints (gouache and digital) I experimented with to try using saturated application of watercolor in a similar way. I ended up pretty satisfied with the results, so I’m glad I took the time to play around with other mediums first.



The end result will become a physical board book made out of chipboard, but I haven’t made the prototype yet because I’ve been too busy with schoolwork and holiday break travel to assemble it. I may post the finished physical book in another column if anyone is interested in seeing it, however.

Once I return from my trip abroad, I’ll do my best to find some time to make sketches of what I saw and integrate them into future illustrative projects!

Fable Friday: Chang’e

Chang’e is often described as fairy goddess in Chinese mythology, said to pull clouds across the moon at night. While her story has many variations, from fleeing to the moon to escape an angry king for a husband, or drinking a potion that lightened her body until she floated into space. This story has been retold many times depending on the writer, especially in more modern times. Chang’e is also a focus of China’s mid-autumn festival, where moon-cakes are popularly shared by lovers. 

OTM #18: Immersion

We’ve made it to break! Hope you’re all doing well and resting up this week. I’ve been super into the new Pokémon game as of late; I’ve rushed to finish all of my work so that I can do nothing but play all of break. I find solace in living a modestly hermit-esque lifestyle on occasion; it’s definitely not something I like to be proud of, but I have to admit that it feels good to do nothing but play video games all day sometimes. It’s good to allot time for that sort of thing, I think, allowing some true you-time and immersing yourself in something pointless. Whether it’s binging Dance Moms, playing Pokémon, taking a walk or a run, or finding new music, I think that indulging in art (of whatever form and quality) is a great way to recharge. I already was inspired to draw and create because of Pokémon; I was inspired in a way that a child would be. I’m getting urges to design hundreds of Pokémon, to make paper dolls, and various other sorts of childlike crafting urges. I love to keep in touch with that side of myself, the endless creator I was at eight years old, and that’s why I’ve been loving Pokémon so much lately. It reminds me how fun art is. I hope you’re all able to get immersed, inspired, and rested this break! Thanks for reading as always.

The Indian Artist, Revamped: Forced Creativity and the Confinement of Abstract

Good afternoon all, I hope that you are all well! Today I wanted to share my most recent Studio 3D sculpture assignment. I struggled a lot with this one, as I have found that I have struggled quite a bit with this class thus far. The whisper of forced creativity and the underlining requirement of abstract has made it quite difficult for me to create pieces that I am proud of. I have learned a lot about myself as an artist and have honestly just realized that I have a hard time with being spontaneously creative, especially when forced into the confines of abstract art.

It is interesting to think of abstract art as confining. Many people would probably consider it quite the opposite as much of anything can qualify. However, as a conceptual artist in love with hyperrealism, it is very difficult for me to create without any inhibitions. I constantly crave creation (wow that’s an alliteration if I’ve ever seen one) that has a backbone, a thread that is traceable to something very conceptual or recognizable. When asked to create merely with the basic principles of art (lines, forms, planes etc.) without adhering to any rules, I have a lot of trouble. It is very frustrating and leaves me creating something that I “secretly” attribute to a concept in my mind but force to fit within the label of abstract.

I did the same thing with my most recent piece assigned in ARTDES 120: Studio 3D. We were instructed to create a piece using various planes to create a beautiful sculpture at least 20 inches in size. When playing around with planes, the first thing that I thought of was a flower, an objectively conceptual symbol. I was then forced to create a piece that was not so “scientific” but rather something more “classical” in thought. Being so used to creating with a firm idea in mind, my mind jumped to a skull. However, I forced myself to pursue a piece that was almost “shapeless”, something that has form and takes up space, but a work that does not need to resemble anything else.

I inhabited my inner child, making random shapes, and putting them together. I ended up with a piece that flowed upwards in a tower formation with intersecting planes. You better believe I still integrated a flower! Ultimately, I enjoy the piece; however, the only part of it that I will actually save is the flower. I hope that I am continued to be challenged in this way. The experience of being forced to lower my inhibitions and break out of my own created box, in my opinion, has made me a better artist.

Please let me know if there is anything more that you all would like to see from me. If any questions or thoughts arise, please comment or reach out to me via my socials!


Until next week,



Instagram: @riya_aggarwal.art

Portfolio:   https://riyarts.weebly.com/