Elizabeth Tillemans, ACS Cobham class of 2014

"My art classes at ACS inspired and fostered a thoughtful, deeper relationship with art and encouraged me to build a life around art and creativity."

Former ACS Cobham Art student, Elizabeth Tillemans, class of 2014 reflects on her past at ACS and explains how her study pathway led to her current role as a Design Strategist.

I am often nostalgic for the art room at ACS at the top floor with the skylights and all the amazing field trips and museum visits we would take. My art classes at ACS inspired and fostered a thoughtful, deeper relationship with art and encouraged me to build a life around art and creativity. It opened the door to the expansiveness of the art world and showed me how much you can really do with a creative passion. My IB art books with their extensive reflections and critiques still sit on my shelf and remain an important grounding for who I am today.

After attending ACS Cobham between 2010 and 2014, Elizabeth went on to the School of Visual Arts, NY to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts. The first year at School Visual Arts (SVA) was a foundation course where students from all majors take a required set of classes covering art history, drawing, painting, sculpture, writing, and visual computing. I then focused on my major in Fine Arts and concentrated on oil painting. My work started off as landscape painting and evolved to incorporate a strong home motif. I was fixated on this idea that you are your own home and everything you could ever need is already within you. I continued to explore this idea through painting, sculpture, ceramics, claymation, public art, and even using my body to depict myself as the home captured in photography. I really appreciate the opportunity we had to explore our ideas freely at school.

I dedicated my first year after school to my practice and had my own studio space to continue my work. I used this time to focus on my painting and building relationships with other artists and young curators in the city. I held open studios in my space, had work in a few group shows, as well as independently sold my paintings. During this time, I also searched for a creative position to fit my strengths and interests. I landed in a role as a Design Strategist at an agency called Anomaly. My work consists of competitive analysis, extensive cultural, category and consumer based research through a design lens. I can then bring strategic ways forward to shape brand strategy and create a comprehensive design architecture that reinforces brand values and differentiation. This role is a new capability within the agency, that unites innovation and design. Having an artistic background helps ground me in my work.

Moon Gazers

My advice for young visual artists at ACS is to figure out what works for you, and not be so hard on yourself in the process. Don't get caught up on other people's idea of what choosing the visual arts as a pathway looks like. There are so many ways to apply a creative mind to both your own personal work and professional career. I didn't even know my role existed until last year. The agency that hired me didn't have a Design Strategist until I started there. But if you know yourself and follow what feels right, you can create the pathway you want for yourself. It might not be clear or certain, but you have to embrace it one step at a time.

As someone who loves to know what I'm doing, or that I'm being productive and heading in the right direction, I understand the stress of figuring it out as you go. But it is also so rewarding to allow yourself that freedom. I can't imagine having done it any other way. It's always, always worth pursuing the path you wanted. It can only lead you somewhere great. If you are an artist, you will be an artist, however that may look for you.