Mariana Cruz Ramirez has been passionate about art and drawing since she was a child and could hold a pencil.
Her love of art, films and video games developed even more as she relied on them during a tough period growing up.
“Animated films and videogames became a big part of my life because they served as a coping mechanism that helped me get through a tough depression as a teenager,” she said. “I want my animations and art to inspire other people the way it inspired me, and I hope to one day help other people get through tough times in their lives through entertainment and my artwork.”
Ramirez wanted to attend College of DuPage because she knew it had great professors, affordable tuition and quality instruction in her field. As a result, COD provided excellent opportunities to present her artwork.
For example, her skills were noted by Lisa Higgins, her professor for Greek Mythology, because of an assignment that consisted of illustrating covers for new editions of Homer’s “The Odyssey” and “The Iliad.”
“All of my ideas came directly from the books,” she said. “I read through them and picked pieces of the passages that I felt were interesting or important to the stories. For example, in my illustration for ‘The Iliad,’ I made Achilles’ shield the main focusing point of the illustration because it was forged by Hephaestus, the god of fire, and it greatly helped Achilles in the Trojan War. It was also described in immense detail in the book, about five pages long, which made it easier for me to visualize what it may have looked like.
“In ‘The Odyssey,’ the main part of the book is Odysseus’ long journey home after the Trojan War and all the hardships he faces along the way with various obstacles, monsters/creatures and destinations. I chose to illustrate all of those parts of the journey using my own interpretations of the details described in the book, as well as inspiration from ancient Greek art and artists such as Yoshitaka Amano.”
Based upon this work, Ramirez was invited to present at the Honors Council of the Illinois Region Spring Student Symposium. She then applied and was accepted to present at the National Collegiate Honors Council conference this fall.
“Both of these opportunities will help me advance in my professional career as an animator because they have provided me with experience in public speaking, writing and being able to visually tell a story through artwork,” she said.
After completing her associate’s degree, Ramirez would like to transfer to a four-year school and complete a bachelor’s degree in animation. She hopes other students put in the work because the rewards will happen.
“My advice to students at COD is to always try your hardest to complete your best possible work, especially work relating to the field you are interested in,” she said.