Sunday, September 15

UCLA alumna rediscovers love for creating visual art

Art history alumna Bethany Rennard has produced a variety of artworks, including a tote bag with blue and red figures that symbolize the emotions of happiness and sadness, which she believes are important to a healthy lifestyle. (Esmeralda Lopez/Daily Bruin)

Art history alumna Bethany Rennard has produced a variety of artworks, including a tote bag with blue and red figures that symbolize the emotions of happiness and sadness, which she believes are important to a healthy lifestyle. (Esmeralda Lopez/Daily Bruin)

Wings are typically made of feathers, but for Bethany Rennard’s high school senior showcase, she fashioned them entirely out of string.

Rennard, a UCLA art history alumna, produces both digital and physical art through illustration and graphic design. After a relatively dormant period following her high school years, Rennard revitalized her interest in making art, taking her first design class during her last year at UCLA. She is now pursuing a career in art after graduation.

“I think when I started to trust myself and my decisions and my voice, that was when I was able to make stuff that I was proud of,” Rennard said.

[Related: First-year draws her own path through the field of graphic design]

Rennard first became serious about art after studying visual arts at the higher level in her high school’s International Baccalaureate program. Swapping traditional classrooms for art studios, she and her classmates attended workshops where they learned skills such as pen and ink techniques and worked on independent projects, like her wings piece.


However, after high school, Rennard began making less art and started focusing more on her classes. She said she felt she had given up on art.

In college, she worked toward becoming a museum curator by pursuing a degree in art history. Though Rennard is still considering curating art, she slowly realized that she would rather be making art instead of displaying it, she said.

In the summer of 2016, she studied abroad in Paris and was inspired by European styles and designs. Her trip fully renewed her passion for the arts, and she was excited to return to UCLA and start creating art again, she said.

“In Europe, I saw the graphic styles there, and the print designs were really distinctive and different from the American stuff that I’ve seen – and that was really exciting to me,” Rennard said. “I just came back with … a lot of energy to get started and invest in that this year.”

Rennard begins her creative process by sketching an idea or jotting down written notes in her journal. Once she finishes a sketch, she scans it onto her computer and uses the sketch as a digital template to edit on software from the Adobe Creative Suite.

Sometimes, Rennard takes the process a step further and actualizes her designs into physical manifestations. One of her favorite pieces she made this year is a hand-sewn tote bag. She created its pattern, scanned it onto her computer and printed it on to the tote bag’s fabric. The blue and red figures include both a happy person and sad person to embody emotions that Rennard feels are important in a healthy lifestyle.

“It was really cool to have it go from something physical to something digital and then reprint it out and have it be something physical again, and be able to hold the fabric in my hand,” Rennard said.

In the latter half of her college career, Rennard became actively involved in the arts community, joining clubs such as Student Committee for the Arts and making pieces for UCLA Radio and The Paper Mixtape magazine.

For the first issue of The Paper Mixtape that Rennard worked on, she created a mixed media collage with reflective mirrors made of aluminum foil for a thought piece on self-image and the effects of internet culture on mental health.

Sophia Arriola-Gibson, a fourth-year Design | Media Arts student who has worked with Rennard on two issues of The Paper Mixtape, said that Rennard has a distinct style. Rennard’s work is easily identified by her line work and her use of bright colors and patterns, which she incorporated into two-dimensional computer-generated baseball cards.

Rennard took her first design class winter quarter with Design | Media Arts lecturer Julieta Gil. For their first exercise, students were assigned to create a poster based off an artist’s use of color. Rennard referenced Tauba Auerbach, a modern American artist, in her poster, which she based on the shape of a palindrome.

“She’ll kind of explore alternatives and really dig deep into her idea before she commits to something,” Gil said.

Rennard said UCLA has not only been able to provide resources to further her skills and knowledge, but also to foster collaborations and establish professional connections within the arts community.

“I think the community here if you’re willing to invest in it – the arts community I’m talking about – I think it can give back a lot to you, because there’s just so many resources and connections here, there’s a lot of opportunity,” Rennard said.

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