Swarthmore is filled with people from many different places and backgrounds, which means a plethora of stories can be told. One artist who is telling these stories is Liya Harris-Harrell ̕ 21. They are a prospective art and chemistry double major who has been drawing for most of their life. So far in their time at Swarthmore they have had their work featured in two art shows. Harris-Harrell has a unique, fun style that makes their work a pleasure to view and a great fit for this series. Not only that, but their style also allows for examination of the different emotions art can elicit.
“I would describe my art as, like, a really bubbly vibe. I think this is really captured by how I like to capture color in what I do, art wise,” Harris-Harrell explained. “I always try to use bright colors because I’ve been told that by others that my art makes them feel happy and I think that the colors are like a huge reason behind why I like to use bright colors.” Harris-Harrell does this with the pastels and light-hearted characters that fill their designs.
Harris-Harrell’s work comes from a mixture of inspiration from other artists along with their own unique take on art. They are passionate about designing and creating diverse characters and representative of the people in their life. Along with people around them, Gabriel Picolo, Laura Brouwers, and Jen Bartel are artists from whom Harris-Harrell draws inspiration.
“Being an artist to me means to be able to make art that you enjoy,” Harris-Harrell discussed. “I think that art should encompass what the artist finds inspiration in. Sometimes the art we make has a message, and sometimes it doesn’t, and that is okay.”
“I’ve always been interested in, like cartoons, as a kid, but I’ve gone in and out of drawing. I just got back into art at the end of senior year of high school when I got really into comic books,” Harris-Harrell explained.
They explained that their interest in art and potentially majoring in it became more serious last year. For Harris-Harrell art is a way to destress. Even though their interest in majoring in art is rather recent, their interest in art has been there for years.
“I think my first drawing was, like, My Little Pony fan art, because I was really into it in seventh grade,” Harris-Harrell reflected when thinking back to their earlier artworks. “It’s really embarrassing looking back at old art work that I did back in 2013, but I still have most of it, and I find myself going back when I have art block and redrawing it.”
For some artists it can be difficult to reflect on their past works, but for Harris-Harrell it shows them how they have progressed over time and gives them a sense of pride.
“My advice would be to focus on what you like to do, and not worry about if others will like it.”