Q and A with Christina Moliterno
The narrative of the “starving artist” is defined principally by the trade-off facing creative individuals with regard to career choice: Either get a steady 9-to-5 job and become financially secure, or practice the arts exclusively and be offered mostly non-financial rewards for labor. Or, in strictly economic terms, in order for one to not starve, it is necessary to supply one’s labor only in such a way that it perfectly aligns with the market’s demands.
If the only local demand for my labor or products or services is down at the coal mine, for instance, and I choose to become a sculptor, I will have virtually sealed my financial fate, according to the starving-artist ethos.
Consider Christina Moliterno as one antithesis to this idea.
Though one semester shy of receiving multiple degrees in the arts from Lycoming College, there is sound evidence suggesting that Moliterno, a native of Great Meadows, N.J., will in fact accomplish both.
A digital communications major with a minor in commercial design at Lycoming College, Moliterno has excelled both in and outside of the classroom. Her illustrations have been featured at Alabaster Coffee Roaster & Tea Co. and she has been commissioned for professional graphic design services locally.
A self-described perfectionist, Moliterno is building a robust portfolio across various mediums while gaining practical experience in the business world. These and other factors suggest that Moliterno is an outlier to the starving artist narrative.
The Sun-Gazette recently was able to conduct an interview with Moliterno to delve deeper into the mind of this budding artist who’s already made a splash in the Williamsport art and commercial design scene.
ISAIAH BRITTON: You have already amassed an impressive portfolio of work representing various media. If you had to pick a favorite medium, which would you choose and why?
MOLITERNO: I am a complete perfectionist when it comes to creating things. It got to the point where it did more harm than good this past year in particular; I would throw out perfectly fine ideas because the pencil marks didn’t erase entirely. So I definitely became more partial to digital work than traditional mediums. It allows me to make mistakes without the need to scrap the whole thing and start from scratch. I actually complete drawings now. But I really like that it looks hand drawn, so I just download a bunch of brush presets for Photoshop that give it that look and it’s a win-win.
Another reason I prefer digital work is for that undo button. I’m so used to it that sometimes if I’m drawing on paper with pencil and I make a mistake my mind automatically goes to “hit undo” rather than “flip the pencil around and erase the mistake.” I’m glad mind reading isn’t an ability because then I’d never let anyone around me as I work.
My professor once told me one of her students didn’t think digital art was “real” art. I can assure you, while it provides easier ways around problems traditional art proposes, it is not in the least bit easier. Imagine you had a set of water colors and paint brushes to make a painting with. There are many combinations of color and brushes that will give you many different possibilities of how you can paint something. Multiply that by infinity – that is how many combinations of things you have to sift through in order to make one object. Now add any medium and all those possibilities to that. It is difficult to draw one thing because there is a daunting amount of ways to make it all at your disposal in one area.
IB: Many of your illustrations have a “cartoon-like” quality, and feature anthropomorphic animals – yet one would not neccessarily describe these illustrations as “cute.” There is a seriousness conveyed through them. To what do you owe this ability?
CM: It all stems back to the movies I watched as a kid. The Brave Little Toaster was one in particular that has stuck with me over the years: it is about a set of abandoned household appliances that embark on an adventure to find “the master” who used to use them and love them. Throughout their adventure they encounter all sorts of horrifying and sad events that parents would never allow their kids nowadays to be subjected to. There is a song that a bunch of cars in a junkyard sing about how worthless they are, as they are crushed and essentially killed. That’s rough stuff. But now I can go back as an adult and watch it and catch those metaphors and enjoy it for a different reason. I want to create lasting art like that. So I try to make things that both children and adults can enjoy and will last through generations.
IB: Your graphic design work has led to various companies commissioning you for logos. Is this type of work as rewarding as other types, or do you find the constraints of the project too much limiting your creativity?
CM: So far everything I’ve been commissioned to design has been an enjoyable project. I expect to have clients who will want something from me that is different from what I’m used to designing. I see those jobs as an opportunity to try out different styles of work, to create a product that combines both my unique skills and an employer’s ultimate goal. That being said, if I don’t particularly enjoy a project I’m working on, I can always take a break and work on my own things to remind myself why I enjoy this line of work.
IB: Have you shown any of your pieces recently, or will you be in the near future?
CM: I will be showing an animation I’ve been working on for a couple months now called “The Island Dwellers” for my senior project in April. April 3 is the Tom Woodruff Video Annual, where my animation will compete with other artists’ videos for the Tom Woodruff Grand Jury Prize. It is from 7 to 9 p.m. and is free and open to the public, so anyone who likes film and video should definitely make it. I also have my senior exhibition in the Lycoming college communications building which is April 11 from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
IB: How can the public access your growing portfolio of work?
CM: I have a website currently up at www.christinamoliterno.com. But I update my Facebook page more often and that link is www.facebook.com/hipepperdesigns.