MoCCA Fest 2019

Kutztown Grad is Featured Artist…

Kutztown University students will be selling their work at the 2019 MoCCA Fest in NYC. MoCCA stands for Museum of Cartoon and Comic Art. This will not be the first time KU illustrators have participated in the festival, but this year Kutztown has another reason to be proud. One of MoCCA 2019’s featured artists, Peter Hoey, is a KU grad.

MoCCA poster by Maria and Peter Hoey.

Peter and Maria Hoey are featured visual artists for the festival and designed the MoCCA poster above. Peter graduated from Kutztown University in 1982. Prof. Elaine Cunfer, his 1982 classmate recalls, “Peter’s work was strong and distinctive from the get go and he was a peer that I looked to for both inspiration and motivation.”

Maria and Peter Hoey. Photo from their reps, Rapp Art

The Hoey’s poster will appear on signage and official MOCCA merchandise.

Coin-Op #7 © Peter and Maria Hoey

For the past 20 years the Hoeys have been creating indy comics. The Seattle Review of Books called their work the “best comic series you’ve never heard of.” Top Shelf / IDW recently collected their best comics in hardcover for The Coin-Op Comics Anthology 1997-2017.

Cover art © Peter and Maria Hoey

Publisher’s Weekly gave The Coin-OP Anthology a rare starred review, calling it “Spectacular… each page is a feast for the eyes. This is a striking assemblage of two decades of challenging, entertaining, and crisply beautiful stories.”

The Hoeys are versatile artists, besides comics, they are known for their animated gifs, flip books, infographics. They are currently hard at work on their first full length graphic novel. Much more of their amazing work can be seen at their rep’s website, Rapp | Art.

The Hoeys are pioneers of animated gif illustration.

While Peter and Maria Hoey will be attending the MoCCA Fest as featured artists, current Kutztown University student will be at table 145C. The MoCCA Arts Festival takes place April 6 and 7th, 2019 from 11:00AM – 7:00PM Sat. and 11:00AM – 6:00PM Sun. at Metropolitan West, 639 W.46th Street, NYC. The cost of festival entry is $10 per day and includes exhibits and workshops. Directions here.

All artwork above © Peter & Maria Hoey.

Scatter Joy Illustration Show

The Tailor and his Daughter © Elham Ataelazar

Kutztown University has produced some amazing illustrators: Tom Hallman, Stephen Kroninger, Renee French, Kathi Ember, Kevin Cornell, Tom Warburton, Tom Whalen, Simeon Wilkins.   An exhibition at the Scatter Joy Center for the Arts will showcase artists likely to be added to that list.

Elham Ataeiazar, work pictured above, came from Iran to work on her MFA at Kutztown. ‘Ellie’ has already illustrated a number of quirky children’s books for a publisher in Lebanon. Her artwork will be on display along with nearly 40 other KU undergraduate work at the Scatter Joy Center for the Arts in Horsham, PA.

“The Kutztown Univerity Communication Design Illustration Showcase” opening is Friday Sept. 23,  5:00 to 8:00pm. The public is invited and the show will hang through Oct.19, 2016.


Scatter Joy is the brainchild of Kathy Davis. Kathy Davis is the well-known artist who started a greeting card business in a corner of her bedroom and found fame and fortune. She also employs a crew of talented illustrators, designers, and letterers. In 2011 we wrote about grad Ashley McDevitt working at the studio. Ashley, who drew the announcement above, isn’t the only KU grad working for Kathy Davis. According to Prof. Elaine Cunfer, who has been instrumental in arranging this exhibition, 4 other grads are at the studio.


Summer © Kristen Tully

Prof Cunfer collected and organized work for students who chose to participate in the exhibition. Undergrad work includes projects done by sophomore through senior year. Kristen Tully  (work above) drew the zine ‘Moon and Wolf Girl’ which was the bestselling KU zine at Moccafest in 2015. You can see more of her images here.

Darkside © Adam Liesenring, done in illustrator

2016 grad Adam Liesenring’s work often evokes science fiction. More of Adam’s work can be seen here.

Art by Meredith Shriner, digital painting over scanned pencil.

Meredith Shriner is still on campus. Her junior-level work, above, will be in the Scatter Joy exhibition. More of her work can be seen here.

Kutztown University is proud of its association with Kathy Davis Studio and hopes the relationship will grow in the years ahead. By the way, the studio is looking for a watercolor artist and a hand-lettering artist! Check the careers tab on the Kathy Davis website.



Sometimes, a zine of things I do, by Jonathan Stutzman with art by Heather Fox.

Zines by Kutztown students will form the beginning of a new Zine Collection at Kutztown University’s Rohrbach Library. Other academic institutions have famous Zine Libraries including Barnard College and Hampshire College. Kutztown is starting small.


A zine, rhymes with seen, is a small book or pamphlet. Merriam Webster defines a zine as “often homemade or online publication usually devoted to specialized and often unconventional subject matter, such as a feminist zine.” The works above by Kate Chambers and Deanna Black offer insights on body image and are great examples.

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Jesse Warner, student and co-founder of Brain Bug, proposed the idea to librarian Bruce Jensen. Bruce responded with enthusiasm telling Jesse,” Your idea of a zine library in Rohrbach is brilliant!  KU’s a perfect place for one, with so many knowledgeable zine-loving faculty and supertalented zinemakers hereabouts.”

Zines by Rachel Behm and Alexis Manduke

Zines are harder to catalog than the typical book. Some have odd dimensions and many have no pages numbers. The Rohrbach librarians will have there work cut out for them. Hopefully by the fall, KU zinesters will find their work in the library.

Fantasy and SF zines by Kristen DeMelfy and Carly Zehring

If you are a student or faculty and have an idea for a zine, you need not be in a special class. Just do it! The library’s new ‘maker space’, now called STEAMworks has printers and the rare extra-long staplers needed for binding a simple zine. STEAMworks is located in room RL 18. Maybe we can have a zine workshop in the fall.

Zines do not have to be serious. Spoiler Alert: Next image is the final death scene from a very funny zine, SnailMan by Kate Desiderio!


As my zinester son, Daniel McCloskey always says, ” Zines are a great calling card for an artist. Zines have a life of their own.” Very often the original reader will think of a friend who likes a particular sort of story and pass it on. And so on.

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Urban Nomad from

At least one former KU student has become something of a zine star. Alisa Harris studied here before transferring to SVA in NYC to major in traditional animation. Her Urban Nomad is a step up from a zine, but we will have issue #1 from 2008 at Rohrbach. It tells of her journey from Pennsylvania to New York. Urban Nomad is a simple autobiographical tale that might inspire other young artists to head to the big city. It is available at select bookstores like Bluestocking in NYC. Alisa’s website has more info about the project.

photo: Bruce Jensen

Are you a Kutztown grad who made a zine? If you would like to donate a copy to be lovingly housed in the new zine library, get in touch with Bruce Jensen at Rohrbach Library.

1st MFA’s at Kutztown U

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pattern © 2016 Emma P. Brooks

Emma Brooks and Al Bronokowski made history as the first MFA’s in Communication Design. This MFA is the first terminal degree offered at Kutztown University. I, myself, was once in a first MFA class at another college, so I know it takes a leap of faith to embark on something so new. Emma and Al are to be congratulated. They learned a lot and produced fascinating work.


Emma’s thesis project was called ‘Kindred Memories’ a collection of illustrated pattern designs based on her family history. The imagery on dinnerware and curtains above, for example, are based on her great-grandfather Martin Schicker, an outdoorsman who collected luna moths.


Emma said her education was transformative. She completed her thesis under the able direction of Prof. Denise Bosler. “I came here to get an MFA so I could teach. I realized designing is what I want to do!”said Emma. “Maybe I will teach someday in the future, but  now I really want to design patterns.” More of Emma’s work can be seen here.

Emma Brooks explaining her thesis for Kutztown faculty and Dean Mowder.

Al’s final project was not so illustrative, but no less impressive. He did an interactive project with Prof. Josh Miller. Al said his breakthrough came when Prof. Josh Miller told him, “Interactive design doesn’t have to be just web design, it can be so much more.”


Al created an immersive multi-sensory experience based on Arcadia National Park. The experience included multiple projectors, natures sounds, and even scents meant to evoke the features of this particular park. It reminded me of the Holodeck on Star Trek.

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Screenshot from

Al explains it on his website: ” I constructed an interactive table that uses an infrared camera and reacTIVision software to track fiducial symbols on the bottom of objects. The table also includes servos and multicolored LEDs that are controlled by an Arduino and react to the fiducial symbols. The interface projects information about the park onto three walls and the table top.” He  wrote the program that controls the entire project in Processing. I must admit that is all Greek to me, but the end result was remarkable.

More of Al’s work including video of his thesis project can be found here.

The Kutztown University MFA in Communication Design Program is still looking for a few good students to begin classes next fall. More info can be found here.


Maddy’s Dream Job: Lego Star Wars

LEGOLAND, Billund, Denmark  photo credit: Bobby Hidy via Wikipedia

Like a lot of young Americans, Kutztown’s Madison O’Neil grew up loving Star Wars and Lego. Now he is headed to Denmark to design Lego Star Wars characters.

Design by Maddy O’Neal, done for fun, before he got the job!

I last wrote about Maddy in 2013 when as a new BFA grad he took an odd career detour to become a ranch hand. Maddy’s new official job title: Character & Graphics Designer, LEGO STAR WARS.  

Madison O’Niel was a ranch hand at Vista Verde in Colorado.

He starts work on February 22, 2016 at Lego, Billund, Denmark. He doesn’t even have a place to live. He and girlfriend, Megan Blair, also a talented KU design grad, found a Bed & Breakfast a short bus ride from Lego HQ.


There are already 2 KU Communication Design grads working at Lego, Austin Carlson and Lauren King. Maddy interned at Crayola and met Lauren there, before she, herself, took off for Denmark. Lauren alerted Maddy to this job opening.

It all happened fast. For the past few years he’s been a designer at the quirky online store Think Geek. He flew to Denmark for the first time over Thanksgiving.  Maddy explains,”I prepped an online portfolio, had a skype interview, was flown to Billund, Denmark for a series of interviews and design workshops, and got the job a week or two later. ” He told my illustration class he was one of a dozen candidates flown in from all over the world for the interview.


His interview in November included hands-on tests. He and the others were given a table full of Legos and told to create specific scenes and characters on the spot. Maddy says it was fun, stressful, but fun!


Maddy was ready. In fact, he had packed his suitcase with these tiny characters from cult movies and TV shows including Game of Thrones, Firefly, and, of course, Star Wars. Note all Maddy’s creations in this post are totally unofficial and not available in stores. He custom prints stickers and fabricates props to adorn off-the-shelf Lego people. All rights are retained by the original creators.


See more of Maddy’s imaginative creations including Beast Boy from Teen Titans and Sherlock Holmes here. As he says at “I loooove LEGOs! As a hobby I enjoy creating LEGO minifigures of my favorite characters from pop culture. With custom decals and paint applications I can give these little guys big personalities.”

Lessons from Maddy: Network, Build a great portfolio web page, and Looooove what you do!


Note: My new book, The Real Poop on Pigeons is available for pre-order on Amazon, at the discount price of $8.88.  The first review was good, and it is a selection of the Junior Library Guild. I am exhibiting  artwork from the book at Kutztown U in April and at The Hoboken Historical Museum in June. More details to come soon.pigeons.jpg



Kutztown Welcomes Jersey Students

pa-sign.jpgKutztown University gets a lot of students from New Jersey.

Why so many? We are in Eastern PA, less than an hour west of the Delaware River. I grew up in New Jersey and must admit I always resented this sign: Welcome to Pennsylvania: America Starts Here. I suppose it wasn’t meant as an insult.

The other day at our faculty meeting we were discussing Kutztown’s cost vs. a NJ state school. They pay far, far more taxes in NJ, so it should be cheaper there, right ? Communication Design Chair Prof. Todd McFeely insisted Kutztown U is a comparative bargain. I decided to crunch the numbers. BTW, Communication Design here consists of graphic design, ad design, interactive design, and illustration concentrations.

Another odd billboard on the way from New Jersey.

Universities market themselves by quoting tuition by semester. Instate tuition at Montclair State in NJ is $5886.15 per semester, plus mandatory fees of $1629.90, plus miscellaneous fees like a $225 first year fee, studio and lab fees of up to $260 per class. I add tuition and fees, include the first year fee, but not lab fees to get a yearly cost of $15,257.10. Here is Montclair State’s website, if you want to check my figures.

Illustrator Jerry Pinkney visiting Kutztown U CD class.

Lets compare that to out-of-state tuition at Kutztown University of PA. Tuition and mandatory fees per year: $20,114.50. Turns out we have a first year fee of $238 (who knew?) which I included. That is nearly $5,000 more. However, as my chairperson rightly points out, Kutztown offers a generous tuition reduction program to “above average” students.

I’ll paste the details here: “New first-year students must have a high school GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, and a minimum SAT score of 1,000 (combined math and critical reading) or an ACT composite score of 21. Students receive a 40% reduction of the out-of-state tuition.”  Truth is, 1000 SAT’s are not that rare. I’ll crunch these numbers- 40% of annual out-of-state tuition = $7,060.  $20,114.50 minus $7,060 means a a cost of $13054.5 for that NJ student with modestly impressive credentials.

Main St. Kutztown, PA, watercolor ©2015 Jamie Basile, KU grad

Bottom Line: Kutztown can be $2,000 less than Montclair State. My chair was right, as long as you have the grades, we are the better deal. The full out-of-state tuition reduction plan can be seen here.

Kutztown University has been attracting fewer students in recent years. Largely, this is due to the demographics of Eastern PA. Our Communication Design program is first-rate and very competitive, yet even our application numbers are down this year. We have extended the application deadline for our program until Feb 26.

art student FRY
“Weston Sharadin, art student & Highland bull” © Sierra Fry, KU

We hope to get a few more good applicants. If you can’t find the info you need on this page , get in touch with the CD Dept, 610-683-4530, or contact me, Kevin McCloskey: Note: I used my beloved New Jersey as an example, but any out-of-state applicant gets this deal.

Is Kutztown the right school for you? That’s for you to decide. I wrote about picking an art college in 2011. I advise prospective students not go into debt for a degree in the arts, even the applied arts, like communication design. See Picking an Art School and Picking an Art School Part 2.


Heads Up: Colored Pencil Project

Beastie Boy Lemur © by Andrew Cygnan
Beastie Boy ‘Mike D’ Lemur © by Andrew Cygan

Merlin © Kylie O'Connor
Merlin © Kylie O’Connor

Scratchboard illustrations from my sophomore classes gained nearly 200 views on day one. So here’s a gallery of their colored pencil projects.

 Big Bad Wolf © by Austin
Big Bad Wolf © by Austin Haas

Animal Head on Human Body

I have been using this assignment for years, getting imaginative combinations. Back in the day, students found three different photos: a head, body and background.

Tiger Dude © Taylor Van Kouten
Tiger Dude © Taylor Van Kooten. Colored pencil with white paint for stars.

Lately I’ve seen students actually google the words “animal head on human body” on their phones. I think of this as a crowd-sourced substitute for individual creativity. Some use Photoshop’s lasso tool to put an existing head on a body, then use the Artograph projectors to copy their Photoshop collage. Still, I must admit, I am getting good work.

“Weston Sharadin, art student & Highland bull” © Sierra Fry

Sierra Fry’s art student bull is brilliant. His last name is Sharadin, which is the name of the art building here. Note the museum sticker on his sketchbook is from MooMA, not MOMA.

“Kip the Space Dog,” © Kaylyn Gustafson

Kayliyn Gustafson based her image on her dog, Kip. I beefed up the contrast as I scanned this image to make her pencil marks in outer space less apparent. It looks stunning with this slight adjustment. I am all about using the computer to make drawings pop. Of course, you can’t do much unless the underlying drawing is excellent, like this portrait of Kip.

Slugger © Samantha Fusco
Slugger © Samantha Fusco

Samantha Fusco’s slugger looks like a Kutztown U baseball card. I told the students there is a university that has a slug for a mascot. Some found that info hard to believe. We leave you with an ambitious image below. It is tough to draw a motorcycle, let alone one ridden by a bulldog.

I suggest students use ordinary marker layout bond. Some prefer smooth bristol board. Recommended pencils brands are Prismacolor or Derwent. One tip with colored pencils is using a bit of isopropyl rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab to blend colors. If used everywhere the alcohol can make the colors mushy, but in moderation it’s a special effect worth trying.

Bulldog motorcyclist © Christian Debuque
Bulldog motorcyclist © Christian Debuque

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