If a boy can experience one moment when his creative gift connects with an endeavor that both inspires and enlivens him- an endeavor that opens up to him the richness of life, of that adventurous journey we are all on together-than you have given him something enchanting-something he will remember for the rest of his life.
Peter Searby, Riverside Director
Some boys in the Riverside Tutorial gravitate toward the outdoor projects, others to building things with their hands, but for Journeymen Cash York and Gabe Chou, Riverside kindled a passion for art and provided them both with the inspiration and outlet to grow their talent.
These boys have not only had the satisfaction of finding their creative gift but also being able to share it by creating art that has appeared on Riverside materials. Cash designed the 2022 Folk Fest logo and the artwork for Riverside’s productions of Over the Hills and Far Away and The Sound of Music. And, Gabe is the artist behind the amazing 2023 Folk Fest Poster.
“One of the greatest fruits of the Riverside Tutorial is for a Journeyman to develop his gifts, and create something beautiful or meaningful of his own initiative that inspires others,” Searby said.
Cash, now a freshman at the Chesterton Academy of the Holy Family, and Gabe, who is homeschooling high school, both agree with this sentiment and took a few moments to share how Riverside has helped them along their creative journey.
When and how did you know you loved art?
Cash: Ever since I can remember, I loved creating things. Mainly just little marker drawings on paper, clay monsters, and stuff like that. But I never really dove too deep into my artistic abilities, and when I started Riverside that all changed. Riverside made me realize what I was actually capable of. It made me think things and create things that I never thought I could do. It really brought out my passion for art and has continued to affect my perspective.
Gabe: Long before I could express stories through writing (or really speaking, for that matter) I’d draw them out on paper for my parents. So I suppose there’s not really a specific moment I discovered the love of drawing. The main moment I can recall realizing that I seriously wanted and needed to keep drawing (I was maybe six) was when my dad drew a LEGO mech on the back of a receipt that blew my mind.
What was your favorite project in the Riverside Tutorial and why?
Cash: That’s a tough question because there were so many that I loved. If I had to choose one I would either say the Legend Box project or our hero quest games. The main reason I loved these so much is they allowed you to completely create your own fantasy world and characters. The only limit was your imagination, and I loved that. For the Legend Box, you would get to create a character in some themed fantasy world and you would write first-person journal entries from the perspective of that character. Sometimes you would even draw little sketches in the journal, at least I certainly did. Pretty much any opportunity I had to incorporate drawing in the projects I did for (the Riverside) Tutorial, I would always take advantage of it.
Gabe: Legend Box was one of my favorites. I’ve always loved storytelling and world-building, so it was perfect. I have some great memories from working on my stories, mostly the encouragement and excitement of getting to share my work with the tutors and other apprentices. It’s been incredibly gratifying to be able to look back on past Legend Box journals. It can also be hilarious – for example, I copied 70% of the content in my stories from other stories, (which I would actually recommend for growing as an artist) but looking at one quote I used, I’m pretty sure I got it from a tattoo I saw on someone’s back.
How did Riverside help you develop/foster your artistic ability?
Cash: This kinda ties in with the previous questions, because it was those projects that really brought my artistic life to light. If I hadn’t had those to foster me in this little art world, where would I be right now? I really owe it to my tutors for introducing it to me the way they did.
Gabe: Having the tutors there to give me artistic tips and advice was always helpful, but aside from that the main fostering of my creativity was having a really encouraging environment to share my art with. There’s definitely something to be said for creating art for your own sake, but my favorite part is sharing it with others.
Have you taken classes outside of Riverside? How long and what type?
Cash: Up until I graduated from Riverside, I never really officially had any art lessons or classes. But now that I’m a freshman at Chesterton Academy, I take an art class every week. It’s a two-period class completely revolving around the elements of art and the technique. The first period we go over art history, and the second period is where we actually pull out the pencil and paper. That’s the part I look forward to most.
Gabe: Not really. I’ve done a few classes here and there, but I don’t think they really did anything to influence my skill.
What is your favorite medium and why?
Cash: My favorite medium is pen and ink. I usually use alcohol-based art markers because of their blending capabilities. They give a very smooth purposeful texture.
Gabe: The pencil, for a couple of reasons. One of which is I love how such a simple tool can evoke such dimensions on paper, both physically and emotionally. Another reason (is) that I’m really not brave enough (at least in preliminaries) to use something without an eraser. I’ve found brush pens offer some of the versatility of a pencil while utilizing that really satisfying permanent aspect of ink. Different digital apps are great in their own ways as well, especially for large-scale projects. The safety net of the ‘undo’ button and the ability to switch tools and color so quickly is really helpful timewise. The main drawback I find is that there’s something that gets lost there. I’m not quite sure what, but I feel as though I can really evoke a soul into a character on paper that I can’t on a screen. That said, the mediums of paper and the screen coexist quite nicely. For example, the Folk Fest bird is touched up digitally to get cleaner edges, tweak color composition, and to add the abstract lines.
What is your creative process?
Cash: Usually when I start a project something sparks my interest, like a movie or a song or something. I have this image in my brain and I want to bring it to life and express what the image is to other people. So when I have it in my brain, I sit down at my desk, pencil in hand, and I draw about three rough drafts before I start on my nice paper. I draw it out lightly with pencil, and depending on what I feel like, I usually go over it with pen and then finish coloring it with the markers. Sometimes I even have to redo that process. I know my art will never be perfect, but I want it to depict exactly what I want to get across to the viewer. And if that is successful, then my art has served its purpose.
Gabe: I usually start with finding music or audio to play while I draw. The next step would be to gather visual inspiration. That’s not usually models, since part of the fun of drawing for me is the ability to make an idea in my head become visually alive. So my references tend to be unrelated to the subject, but with a style I’d like to carry over. From there I wish I could say it’s a blur of color as creativity pours from within me, but it’s usually the realization that I’m going to do a couple of flop drawings till I get it right. There’s this awesome chart (that) one of my favorite artists John Hendrix created that perfectly describes the actual process of any long project. Basically, the first part is climbing up the ladder of excitement and inspiration. Then looking down and immediately falling off the top. The hard bit is to keep going from there.
Your art was often featured on Riverside materials, what was your favorite and why?
Cash: My favorite piece I did for Riverside was probably the playbill cover for the Sound of Music production they put on in the summer of 2022. It has been my favorite so far because it is the piece that I felt most comfortable with the material I was using, so the end result was pretty much exactly what I wanted.
What was your inspiration for the Folk Fest bird?
Gabe: I’d been mulling around a couple of different ideas in my head when I came across an astonishing book cover done by Dave McKean. Like most art, it’s really silly to try to describe it verbally, so if you’re interested just look up Gormenghast Society by Dave McKean. Some of his styles really captivated me, so I pulled from the birds he drew along with photos of an actual bird I was basing the drawing loosely on. I had the past Folk Fest posters for inspiration too.