Student Interviews

April 13, 2021

Rachel Hurt (she/her)

Q. Tell me what inspired you to start creating. Does it come from a family member, peer, famous artist? 

When I was in second grade, I used writing as an escape from reality: to bring magical worlds born in my imagination to life. I was constantly writing under the desk when my teachers weren’t looking, simply because of how much it excited me. 

Q. What do you do when you get an art block?

When I get a writer’s block, I like to pretend that I’m interviewing the characters of my story, letting them tell me who they are, and what makes their heartbeats dance. By letting my characters tell me how the story unfolds, rather than trying to force it, my writing usually becomes a whole lot more interesting. I love using this tactic before I decide to write, but other times I will just write and write nonsense until I eventually strike the gold hidden beneath it all. 

Q. Tell me where your favorite place is and what time you generally make your best art.

Hawaii and my bedroom - early morning or late at night.  

Q. Is your art meticulous or all over the place?

I find that my writing is all over the place: when I’m really inspired or excited, I tend to jump around and write sentences out of order, and whenever an idea strikes, whether it be at 2pm or 2 am, I feel drawn to quickly write it down!

Q. Tell me where your favorite place is and what time you generally make your best art.

Hawaii and my bedroom - early morning or late at night.  

Q. Is your art meticulous or all over the place?

I find that my writing is all over the place: when I’m really inspired or excited, I tend to jump around and write sentences out of order, and whenever an idea strikes, whether it be at 2pm or 2 am, I feel drawn to quickly write it down!

Q. Can you explain your style of art in 100 words or less?

I love writing that connects to each of its readers in a unique and personal way, so I try to be honest in my writing. I really enjoy writing whimsical and creative stories or poems that can almost reach through the pages and allow their readers to feel the true magic words are capable of creating. I tend to gravitate towards incorporating inspirational stories or embedded lessons and morals within my work, because I feel every piece of art and literature alike have a deeper meaning wandering beneath the surface.

Q. Is art your primary passion or does another hobby overrule it?

Honestly, sometimes writing can be scary to me - because of both external and internal pressures. I usually find myself avoiding tasks when I feel like I’m writing for other people, rather than myself, so though my love and passion for writing burns strong, I don’t always tend to its flames. I also spend lots of my time playing tennis!

Q. Do you see yourself pursuing art in college?

One of my dreams is to change the world for the better through my writing - especially in regards to helping people realize their worth - so yes! I definitely see myself pursuing writing in college! 

Q. Do you feel your art is a useful skill or just a fun hobby?

One of the reasons I love writing so much is because it can transport feelings that can pull raw beauty and emotion out of the soul’s of those who read it. I think the power a writer has is unmatched: to be able to yield the power that enables individuals to see the world in different hues, to make people see through the eyes of a single beholder - the eyes of the writer themselves is truly a gift. People thousands of miles away can be touched in ways they wouldn’t dare to explore on their own. A writer is essentially a shapeshifter, luring thoughts previously lost and lurking within readers’ souls, and hearts, out into the open to be toyed with. To me, writing is a powerful divinity of a gift, that, if properly captivated, has the potential to change the ways of the world.

Q. Tell me about your favorite artist.

Currently, my favorite author is Glennon Doyle. I feel connected to her as I read her work, and empowered through her writing. She shares personal stories, and  expresses ideas of female empowerment, self-love, and inner-beauty in such an inspiring and fun-to-read way - truly a breath of fresh air that’s extremely light and easy to take in.

Q. Tell me about the piece you're most proud of? Why?

The work I am most proud of would be my book, the ‘Guardians of the Forest’. It has yet to be published but I have sold over a thousand copies as limited editions, and am so excited for what’s to come: hopefully publishing! This story was written into existence through the expression of matters extremely close to my heart - inner beauty and self-love. 

**Spoiler alert!** The main character of this tale is a hornless unicorn named Auberon, who wishes very badly to receive his horn as a solution to all of his problems. He’ll finally be the most beautiful, “truest” version of himself, and will fit in with the other unicorns, at long last. He embarks on a journey with the help of a bluebird, Willow, and encounters many influential characters - including the Ugly Duckling - who help him see his true value. He does in fact get his horn, but only when he learns to truly love and accept himself for who he is without one. 

We all have our horns - burning, longing desires within us that stem from numerous matters like comparison, or loneliness, for example. At first, I just wrote this story for fun and entertainment, but now my ultimate goal with my book is to spread its messages to young, impressionable children - hopefully affecting them subconsciously at a minimum, and allowing them to see the value of the true beauty and worth that lies within everyone.

Rachel is featured in our 2021- 2022 issue Through the Looking Glass and is also a former editor!

February 6, 2021

Samantha Charboneau-Mudd (she/her)

Q. Do the genres you read correlate with the ones that you write?

Mostly not. My most recent books, who really don’t relate to my writing, are books like “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” and “The Last Days of the Romanovs.” However, I’ve been reading “Alice in Wonderland” for my book club, which could be described as one of the books that actually influenced my style of writing. I really enjoy the whimsical yet dark aspects of the story.

Q. Did you read poetry as a child? If so, who did you read and how did they influence you?

I actually didn’t read much poetry when I was younger. But like every kid, I had read my fair share of Shel Silverstein, and I’d like to do something similar to his work some day. Getting into poetry was kind of sudden for me, and it started when someone randomly asked me to join the Slam Poetry club after school. 

Q. What is your writing process?

I actually almost never write outside of slam poetry club, I’ve probably only written two poems outside of it. They’re always in slam poetry club because I’ve never actually been moved to write, never, but I have 15 minutes I’m given to write so I might as well. When it actually comes to the writing itself, I write just random words that pop into my head at the beginning. Once one of them catches my head, it’s like, oh yeah, I’ll write that.

Q. If you had an unlimited amount of time, would you want to write a full scale novel? If not, what kind of writing would you create?

I would say no because I’m actually terrified of writing. But I would love to learn how to write a movie screenplay, because I aspire to become a director. One of the big things that always shoots down directors is a bad screenplay, so I would love to not rely on other people for a good one. A movie I take inspiration from is Jawbreaker, kind of a dark satire kind of film. I love Jawbreaker, but I really want to do animated movies. If I ever get rich, I’m starting my own animation music studio. I like the idea of making something similar to Tim Burton but I think as a person he’s just weird and kind of sexist. Another thing I dislike is none of his stories are about being an outsider and trying to accept yourself; it’s about being an outsider and trying to get into the insider group, and that’s kind of strange to me.

Q. If you could pick anywhere in the world to write, where would it be and why?

Definitely a rented house where I can move around a lot. It doesn’t have to be on the floor, but I’d personally prefer it because I live in a second story right now where I’m constantly scared of walking and disturbing my downstairs neighbors. 

Q. Would that location change if it were to create art?

For art, I’d really love to do an artist residency in as many countries as possible. I feel like I have a strong preference for those specifically who have a strong folk culture, as it’s something that inspires me in my work. 

 that my writing is all over the place: when I’m really inspired or excited, I tend to jump around and write sentences out of order, and whenever an idea strikes, whether it be at 2pm or 2 am, I feel drawn to quickly write it down!

Q. Which artists have you looked up to? Do they influence your art style?

Frida Kahlo is a big one. A lot of people are inspired by her and do portraits of her. However, even though they’re creating Kahlo, I think the most valuable way to recognize her is to do your own self portrait. I think it’s a way to pay homage to Frida because she wanted to explore her space in her own world, such as when she made Self Portrait with Cropped Hair after divorcing Diego Rivera. Diego had always loved her beautiful long glossy black hair and so in that portrait, she showed herself with it all chopped off in a men’s suit, with hair just lying everywhere to say “I am apart from you and I am okay with that.”

r group, and that’s kind of strange to me.

Q. Which art medium is your favorite?

Definitely colored pencil. Almost everything I do is in colored pencil, but I’ve just started learning how to paint because I’d like to finish pieces a lot faster. I remember a couple years ago I was volunteering at the library for hours every day, so I would come up to the ladies that worked there and say “Hey, you have a pet right?” to try and get commissions to save up for various summer camps. A ton of people refused me, but once someone finally said yes I felt a lot of pressure to make it perfect. With colored pencils, I feel like I have so much control where every stroke of fur can be drawn perfectly. I felt a lot more confident working in that medium. After I finished my first commission, more and more people began asking and I realized how much I enjoyed working in colored pencil even more.

Q. What is your favorite piece of art you’ve made so far?

So I made these dolls, and they were supposed to be a collaboration with another artist on Instagram who’s a lot more well known than me. They make dolls too, and I had suggested that they make a snowflake doll for Christmas but they had wanted me to do it, so we ended up just making some together. The headdresses on the dolls came about after seeing the concept art for Elsa from frozen who had this giant snowflake headdress that I loved. Personally, I think it’s a lot better than what was used in the final movie, which to me was quite boring. But after I started making them and showing them to people, people would tell me how Russian they looked. It turns out I had actually made a kokoshnik, which is a traditional Russian headdress. I also took inspiration from the Dutch but overall they had turned out much more Russian than I had expected.

Samantha is featured in our 2020 - 2021 issue Junk Drawer!

2021 - 2022

Grayce Richardson

Q. Tell me how you start creating. Is there anything that tends to spark your creativity?

My creativity is usually sparked by a problem or something cool I see, like if I can't find a specific dress I want I will draw it or if I see a super cool concept I'll draw whatever it makes me think of. Oh or music, music makes my creativity flow like crazy.

Q. How do you set up your space in order to work?

I don't. I mean I guess I get everything and move it to where I want to work if I'm in the art room but I'm a pretty messy artist so everything is usually everywhere already.

Q. Tell me what or who inspired you to start creating in the first place. Does it come from a family member, peer, famous artist? 

Honestly it just kind of happened, i didn't live near any kids when I was little so it was a thug i could do alone that i really enjoyed 

Q. What do you do when you get an art block?

I just keep trying to draw or create things. They always suck but you gotta figure the block goes away at some point 

Q. Tell me where your favorite place to create is and why this place is special to you.

the AP art room at the school, which is weird because its at school which by definition sucks, but for some reason its the one place in the world I feel the safest and most like myself. 

Q. Do you have a certain time of day where you do your best work?

Not really, I mean the best moments come and go at random times when the mood and feeling is right.

Q. Is your art meticulously planned or chaotically formed? Do you think this sets you apart from other artists?

I usually start with a baseline plan/vision I clearly want to create but then I will let the piece form itself one i get started, as long as i get my vision clearly onto the piece it doesn't matter how I get there.

Q. Can you explain your style in 100 words or less?

I suppose my style is a chaotic form of renaissance art. I really like the fine details and soft lines and colors from that time period but my personality tend to be chaotic, bright, colorful, and generally weird which I feel shows through in my art 

Q. Is art your primary passion or does another hobby overrule it? If so, explain what that is. If not, tell us about a hobby that comes under art, but is still close to your heart.

Art will always be my number one, just anything creative in general, but the next best thing for me is activity, specifically water skiing, snow skiing, and volleyball. I used to play volleyball which became stressful and took its toll so now I play it occasionally as a hobby and I've been water/snow skiing since I was like 5 and it's a big part of my life and my family.

Q. Do you see yourself pursuing art after high school?

yep, i'm an art major all the way. I firmly believe that anyone can pursue their passion and make a good living as long as they figure out how to apply their passion in a good way. I'm specifically going to pursue design because it helps the community and is a growing field.

Q. Do you feel your art is a useful skill or just a fun hobby?

I think it can be both, when used correctly art can be a powerful tool that can do a lot of damage, such as propaganda or campaigns, it can also just be something fun you do on the side just making things that are for you and make you happy.

Q. Tell me about your favorite artist.

I don't really pick favorites hut an artist that I really look up to is Lenardo Di Venci, his application and integration of both art and math helped him produce some amazing inventions that furthered his understanding of the world and spread his views and information to the public. 

Q. Tell me about the piece you're most proud of. Why?

The is this piece I am currently working on and have been for a while, it's still unfinished and I have a very love hate relationship with it, but the concept is really cool and everyone really likes it and says I should enter it into competitions and stuff, I plan on redoing it someday but for my current skills it's really cool. The concept is seeing all the important parts of history, from cells to the future, placing them side by side and seeing the differences through time, its a 3D piece so it looks like a portal that is spreading out space and time for you to see.

Grayce is featured in our 2021 - 2022 issue Through the Looking Glass!

2021 - 2022

Sofia Calavitta

Q. Do you plan out your writing before starting, or do you jump all in? How does this affect your work?


I never plan my writing, it's very emotion-driven and I just pick up my phone or my notebook whenever I feel a phrase or a feeling hit me.

Q. Do you stick to a certain genre, style, or format? Explain.

Nope! Most of my poetry is very free-form, though I like experimenting with sonnets and rhyme occasionally. I find a lack of structure easier to work with.

Q. Is there a certain writer who inspires you? How have they influenced or impacted your work?

For poets, I love Mary Oliver and Rumi; their descriptions of nature and emotion really inspire me to expand on my own emotional vocabulary. I have many, many authors I love and am obsessed with, and just a few include Kathleen Glasgow, Jandy Nelson, and David Arnold.

Q. What is your favorite book and why?


I don’t know, honestly, I read so much that books all bleed together, but I really enjoyed The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali. I loved the time skips and the vivid descriptions of how relationships feel and change over time.

Q. Do you have a particular space you write in? If so, what does it look like?

Nope, not really. I write anywhere, I've written while driving, during tournaments, in testing centers, holiday dinners, anywhere you can think of, really.

Q. Are you an avid reader? Explain why or why not.

Yes, oh my god. I love reading—it’s always been a form of escape for me and has really inspired my love for words and language. I read everything from nonfiction to fantasy, essay anthologies to picture books, anything that sparks my fancy.

Q. Are you more private with your work, or do you show it to others frequently?

I run the Slam Poetry Club at Westlake (although since we don’t have a teacher sponsor anymore it’s more of a gathering of friends who happen to be poets) and share fairly regularly with friends. I have some poems where it takes me longer to work up the nerve to slam (read out loud) and others that I itch to slam as soon as I finish writing. Honestly, it depends on the subject matter.

Q. Is there a quote you live by, or that sticks with you?

Nope. If anything, the quote “we are nothing if not absurd” helps me to not pull my punches on how weird and deep I write my poetry.

Q. Do you love writing about a certain subject, or do you write about a variety of topics?

I write about emotions, and so emotion can manifest itself in actions, in events, and even in objects. I would say I write about a variety of topics with a similar underlying theme; the human condition.

Q. Do you have an editing process? If so, explain.

I barely edit, if I’m honest. The most I’ll usually do is change words that have been auto-capitalized back to how I intended them, but occasionally I will feel the need to expand or exchange word phrases in a work. 

Q. Tell us about your favorite work, and why.

Hmm. I am currently working on writing a lot of fantasy poetry based on this world I’ve been building since quarantine. Those pieces are probably my favorite, due to their ability to pull the reader into the mythology I have created and the emotions of the creatures I have made. I feel proud when reading and writing those poems since I normally focus on my immediate feelings instead of storylines and characters.

Q. Do you have any writing pet peeves? If so, explain. 

Well, this is kind of odd, but I hate that it’s difficult to write on my phone while lying down. My arms always feel all squished but I don’t want to get up even though I know I can write more comfortably!

Q. What is your greatest writing accomplishment? Explain.

This July I was one of 60 to be accepted into a writing camp called Fir Acres, (out of over 5000 applicants), and I was granted the opportunity to expand not only my poetry skills but my short story and narrative skills as well. I was taught classes by writers such as Alexia Arthurs, S.Yarberry, Mary Szybist, Mark Mayer, and Ashley Colley. It was definitely one of the most incredible learning experiences of my life, though on zoom due to COVID, and much of the assistance I received I will not forget anytime soon!

Sofia is featured in our 2021- 2022 issue Through the Looking Glass!