By ML Ball
Photos: Courtesy of The Art Effect
Obviously, the judges at this year’s Scholastic Art Awards knew what they were doing. By bestowing one of only two Silver Art Portfolio Awards in the entire Hudson Valley region to James Hyland, they served notice that this prolific artist and powerful storyteller is one to watch.
Catching a glimpse of James, however, is no easy task. Whether painting sets as part of an internship with Denizen Theatre in New Paltz, producing short films for morning announcements at school, designing shirts with friends for their Sleep Later clothing line, creating a series of 12 illustrations of a futuristic sci-fi galaxy for his AP Studio class, or rehearsing for the school musical Newsies, all while finishing up his senior year at New Paltz High School, he’s a bit busy.
“I’ve always liked to draw things, tell stories,” James said recently. “In sixth grade, I used to tell my two little brothers bedtime stories. I had a nine-season series planned, all based on Marvel characters, and we got through three seasons before they got too big.”
Before that, James created and illustrated comic books for his classmates in the style of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. “In fourth and fifth grades, I’d spread out my series of comic books under the pavilion at school, and kids would come and read them during recess,” he said. “Then I did a series called Fishman and Troutboy, where all the characters were based on people in class. The kids really liked them because the stories were about them.”
Then just last summer, James discovered The Art Effect at the urging of Director Todd Poteet, enrolling in a three-week advanced portfolio intensive course. “That was the first Art Effect class I ever did,” said James, “and it was really cool.”
What impressed James the most, he said, was that the instructors would guide you without putting you down, but also tell you if your piece stunk and you should start over. “I think it’s really important to have people be up front about your art,” he stated, “because your family will tell you everything you do is amazing.”
Although James has already gotten into MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art), SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), what he wants to do next is take a gap year. “If I could have that extra year, I could go all in on all of my projects and see how far I can get, what I can do. I could focus on what I really want to do.”
Whatever that turns out to be, one thing is certain: it will be cinematic, clever, wildly imaginative and meticulously executed, just like the artist himself. Stay tuned.For more information on The Art Effect, visit FeelTheArtEffect.org. █