Graduating student pursues dream in illustration

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Angel Ulloa

Senior art major Leah Tellez shows off a book she designed herself.

Julia Hettiger, Staff Reporter

For many students, college is a form of creative expression. These students take classes that inspire them to work outside the lines by working on projects that take their artistic ambitions to the next level.

Leah Tellez, an art major who is graduating on Dec. 12, has built an artistic livelihood throughout her educational career at UTEP. Majoring in graphic design and minoring in drawing has allowed her to explore her artistic abilities in a brand-new way.

“I like doing illustrations that are fun and quaint,” Tellez said. “My drawings are inspired by memories, and I focus a lot on what we remember and how we remember it.”

Although she is pursuing what she loves, Tellez said there are many challenges she has had to overcome both as an artist and as a student.

“I think the hardest part of being an art major, no matter what the discipline is, is to constantly be aware that what you’re doing is not fresh,” Tellez said. “In order to succeed, you need to reinvent yourself.”

To really let her personality shine through her work, Tellez said she has to put in a lot of effort to reach a level of artistic skill that allows her to follow her ambitions.

“You need to put in a lot of hard work to get where you can even think about creating yourself as an artist,” Tellez said. “Sometimes, it’s hard going from the technical to conceptual.”

Like many aspiring artists, Tellez’s love for art came to her at very young age and has flourished throughout her life.

“I have enjoyed art ever since I can remember,” Tellez said. “I was always drawing, ever since I was a kid.”

Tellez remained very involved in the art scene at UTEP through her job and volunteer work that has connected her with other artists.

“I work at the UTEP art department, which is right next door to the Rubin Center,” Tellez said. “I have volunteered at the Rubin Center whenever they have events and art shows, and I got really great exposure there.”

Art has been a big part of Tellez’s life and has impacted her in many ways, including in aspects she was not expecting.

“I would say the biggest way art has helped me is that it helped me develop critical thinking skills,” Tellez said. “When I’m working on my art, I need to look at things from an analytical point of view, and in a way it has also helped me develop my communication skills through my art.”

Once she graduates, Tellez hopes to continue her passion for drawing and graphic design in her career at a design studio here on the borderland.

“After graduation, I hope to stay here in El Paso working for a design studio here,” Tellez said. “Later on, I want to get my master of fine arts in graphic design, but in graduate school, I want to focus more on illustration.”

Julia Hettiger may be reached at [email protected]