Wilson Duda’s Drawings are Picture (Book) Perfect
Wilson Duda is learning to be a graphic illustrator for children’s books.
So far, so good.
So good in fact, that Duda’s logo will grace the T-shirts his fellow students from Kent State University’s Career and Community Studies program will wear as they march in the university’s annual Homecoming Parade.
Duda, of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, is a super senior in the non-degree program, which prepares students with intellectual and developmental disabilities for adult life through academic pursuits, peer socialization and career discovery and preparation.
Duda has taken almost every art instruction class available: drawing I and II, textiles, 2D and 3D composition, introduction and intermediate painting.
“When I was four years old the first thing I drew was Sponge Bob,” Duda said. “My parents taught me with television and books. I like to draw cartoons from TV and the internet.”
When Duda was given the opportunity to create a Career and Community Studies logo for this year’s Homecoming Parade, it took him all of 20 minutes to sketch an imaginative graphic: Kent State’s mascot Flash in blue and gold, grinning and floating high above big, round balloons and vivid autumn leaves resembling the large character balloons that float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Kent State’s Division of University Communications and Marketing gave the design its enthusiastic approval and praise.
Duda’s logo will be proudly displayed on T-shirts worn by his fellow Career and Community Studies classmates marching in this year’s Homecoming Parade, illustrating how the arts can level the playing field for students with special needs.
When Duda started in the program he was mentored for what was supposed to be a semester-long internship to learn graphic illustration. He will soon be finishing his fourth semester-long internship.
“I have not had too many people come up to me and say, ‘Hey, we got this guy who's really talented,’” said William Bintz, Ph.D., a literacy education professor in the School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies in the College of Education, Health and Human Services. “‘He’s an illustrator, but he doesn’t know much about picture books as an art form.’”
“I thought this would be the coolest thing in the world,” Bintz said.
Bintz first exposed Duda to the complexities of graphic illustration by recommending an award-winning book for Duda to re-illustrate from his own perspective.
Bintz then expanded Duda’s perspective with models and experiments with different designs and patterns, and the use of color and placement of illustrations. His classmates’ critiques are flattering and constructive and Duda soaks in all the feedback.
“He came to me one day and said, ‘I like those books you give me, but I want to create my own now. I'll choose one that I really like from my own collection and then I'll create a variation of my own and send it to you,’” Bintz said.
Duda said he watches videos on YouTube to keep himself focused on his illustrations.
His account at the online site, deviantart.com has more than 900,000 page views and thousands of followers who provide him encouragement and support. His social media galleries on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) are loaded with original cartoon creations, a digital testament to his hard work and ambition.