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Photography Challenge at The Learning Studio: Graphic Recording

I had been wanting to experiment with various mediums including paper type and markers (I found out Sharpie paint markers are not as brilliant as I'd hoped). And, I was itching to do an illustration for myself, to market my skills and have differentiating photos on social media. But then I thought about how flat my photos of the recordings can be sometimes. I wanted fresh eyes on how to approach photographing the work. A-ha! I know where to find emerging photographers!

Nick's classroom at Ypsilanti Community High School is also known as The Learning Studio, an experimental commercial photography studio where students in grades 9-12 learn technical and conceptual photography skills. Being in its first year, Nick and the students have made some impressive progress (including two of his students, Davinique Powell and Jenae Gonzalez, winning Best Photo at the recent Potential Art Exhibit at the teen center, Neutral Zone!)  

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I introduced the following challenge to the students over two days: to create a cohesive marketing photo campaign of 3-5 images of the following graphic recording using any method of lighting and including any props or people they chose. The only other criteria being judged was teamwork. The latter proved to be more challenging for larger classes, understandably, but I was utterly impressed by the initiative and knowledge of many students in each and every class. The winning class receives full credit for the photos on social media, mention in an upcoming lifestyle blog I'm being interviewed for and choice of a pizza or donut party, which is, of course, where I heard the "yeaaaahhh"s and excitement.

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Detroit graphic recorder Yen Azzaro

All the classes had phenomenal ideas and some had more innovative concepts, but in terms of sound photography and extraordinary teamwork skills...

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I'm psyched to announce the winning class is 3rd hour (B)!!! They not only brainstormed before jumping into the work, they collectively came up with the most variety of images and made sure everyone was involved in some aspect of the process. Congratulations, Ana, Abbie, Britney, Britthani, Gabe, Jonatan, Lynda, Marcus, Owen, and Rochelle!

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Graphic Recording in areas of Arts, Culture and Education

I've long worked with corporate entities to offer graphic recording that could be revisited for marketing and internal use but now educational organizations are finding ways to fund what I do too. 

I recently had the privilege of working with Wayne-Westland Community Schools to capture their State of the District. Their Superintendent, Dr. Shelley Holt, spoke passionately and candidly about the struggles the district faces. And she is one of the most personable people I've ever met! (You'll see what I mean below.) I was really touched by her candor and have great faith in the plans she offered to break through some of the barriers the district faces. I was also thoroughly impressed with the presentation of the band and color guard, certainly indicative of the talent of the students and staff. 

 Because Wayne-Westland Community Schools has a script logo, I got to take a hand at doing some ink drawing. This method was used on the main graphic recording, which I did earlier in the day. I didn't want drippy ink on the wall!

Because Wayne-Westland Community Schools has a script logo, I got to take a hand at doing some ink drawing. This method was used on the main graphic recording, which I did earlier in the day. I didn't want drippy ink on the wall!

 Photo courtesy Wayne-Westland Community Schools

Photo courtesy Wayne-Westland Community Schools

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 The Superintendents ADORABLE daughter was a quick learner and became my graphic recording apprentice :) 

The Superintendents ADORABLE daughter was a quick learner and became my graphic recording apprentice :) 

 Image courtesy Wayne-Westland Community Schools

Image courtesy Wayne-Westland Community Schools

I finally got around to taking some photos of the In the Neighborhood drawings, part of Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and Eastern Michigan University's Engage @ EMU Office's effort to define what arts and culture looks like in Washtenaw County. This is an example of an illustration done in graphic recording style that focuses on lots of text content. It was a blast to host a gathering with artists and students and then gather and distill the content of all the gatherings.

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Last month I learned about an incredible effort by Kelly Mickel, principal of Erickson Elementary School and other community partners including Washtenaw County Sheriffs Office, Washtenaw County Juvenile Detention Center, Cultivate Coffee and Tap House, Girls Scouts, and Mosaic Church. The Village Project seeks to break the school-to-prison pipeline in the Ypsilanti district. Many of our students have had exposure with incarcerated family members or visited family or friends in detention centers, returning with the idea that they didn't seem so bad. To compare their current life situation and find detention centers a better alternative sounded heartbreaking to me but it's a reality of perception our youth face. 

Efforts are being made right now to lift up students through a 3-pronged effort of mentorship, skills training and life experience. A "signing day" will match up "coaches" with students with special attention given to matching up adults and student based on interests and personalities. There are still lots of details to work out but through the leadership and resources each of the community members bring, I believe this will be a successful program to change the sentiment and trajectory of many of our most at-risk youth. More to come! 

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If you have interest in learning how graphic recording can benefit your educational event, I'd love to chat with you. I'm happy to travel within southeast Michigan and elsewhere. Contact me at yenazzaro(@)gmail.com

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Recap: First Fridays Ypsi with Jessica Krcmarik

This past Friday we opened Feast: A Visual Spread, a collection of illustrations from Detroit artist Jessica Krcmarik. We got to show off her new series of everyday objects and delicious foods. Titles include What He Likes (which was sold that evening) and What Kids Like. Cute, eh? We were also lucky enough to have her live drawing the entire night as people watched in awe of her handiwork. 

 Our artist info sheet and price list. To receive one of your own,  please email us.

Our artist info sheet and price list. To receive one of your own, please email us.

 Moments before opening, the studio flooded with light.

Moments before opening, the studio flooded with light.

 We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful evening. 

We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful evening. 

 Delicious cookies from Terry Bakery

Delicious cookies from Terry Bakery

 Jessica got right to work on a still life set up as people looked on curiously. 

Jessica got right to work on a still life set up as people looked on curiously. 

If you're interested in acquiring one of Jessica's illustrated gems, feel free to give us a call at 734-929-2498 or email us to see photos. Stay tuned for details on our June artist, Megan Williamson, before we take our summer break from art openings. 

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