Below are Washingtonville High School alumni who have made their love of art into a career.
Angela currently works in the Apparel industry, and has held various roles including being CAD Designer (designing prints/patterns), and being a Designer (creating trend reports, digital design sketches, and model photo shoots showcasing key designs). For the past 4 years, she has been working at Macy’s as a Technical Designer creating anything from wovens menswear to ready to wear knits for womens. In the past, she has also worked in off-broadway theatre as a costume designer. Angela’s day-to-day job entails answering emails, and meeting with other teams for the brand (product, tech, design), to working on assigned projects. She states, “everyday is something different but it’s not just being creative all the time, there’s the business side as well.” Angela studied at FIT and afterwards got an internship at a boutique sportswear brand in NYC. She gained skills of how to put together a trend report, to communicate to overseas vendors, and to design digital prints and sketches. Angela mentioned that one of the most important things she has learned in her
career is to never stop learning. She suggests to learn many aspects of your industry to make you more versatile for future jobs, help you to see the big picture of the process, and to help you problem solve better.
"Research, research, research! This is a big choice to make, look at job postings in the career that you want to pursue and see if that’s what you really want to do. Also, look up reviews from your top companies you’d like to work for to try to get an inside view of the day to day culture. The best thing is to try to get an internship anywhere in the industry. Not only does it get your foot in the door, but you can also see first hand if that’s something you’d like to pursue as a career." - Angela Borst
Tara currently works as a wedding photographer running her own photography business, Tara Kearsing Photography, full time! Tara’s day consists of emails, phone calls, editing, planning/prepping for a shoot, photographing clients, & social media. Tara also mentioned that although these things aren’t everyday tasks, she also needs to keep her website and other online listings up to date, optimize them for search engines, apply for permits, keep track of expenses/mileage, continue my education, research & purchase appropriate equipment, networking, marketing & client meetings. There is a lot of my job, as a business owner, that actually has nothing to do with photography. Tara says, “it’s really, really important as a wedding photographer to be extremely organized and knowledgeable. You need to make sure your clients can trust you, not only to take a good picture but to be on top of all the details of their wedding day.”
"You’re artists! Approach your career creatively! Don’t let “failure” stop you from trying. And I put failure in quotes because it’s all how you look at it. You know that all art isn’t for everyone so don’t let that one person who doesn’t vibe with your work affect what you’re doing. Be yourself with whatever you do because people are drawn to authentic personalities. For the longest time I thought I couldn’t be a wedding photographer because I don’t have an extremely outgoing and bubbly personality, but then I realized I don’t have to be a specific way to do what I wanted to do. There are all types of people out there and there’s bound to be some that like what you’re doing. Surround yourself with people that you admire. Listen to motivational podcasts." - Tara Kearsing
Matt is currently the owner and executive producer of Surrender Pictures. At Surrender Pictures where he is currently producing a handful of branded content projects for brands like J.P. Morgan Chase, Pepsi, Saks 5th Ave, TEFAF and more. They are also producing a few longer form documentary projects. The day to day of his job is always changing and he sees different parts of the production process, depending on where him and his team are at with a project. He stated, “Some days we are coming up with creative concepts for a client, other days we are planning an upcoming production, some days I am on set making sure we are capturing what need, and other days I am working with my post-production team to craft the final film.” Matt commented that not all days are action packed and there are times when he must focus on budgeting for a new project, or sourcing licensing for music. No matter the day, he is always creatively challenged and relies
on his artistic approach to problem solving, which makes him love what he does. In high school, Matt did an independent study, which gave him the freedom and responsibility to make his own films, and helped him to get into Emerson College, where he graduated with a major in Visual Media Arts in Film Production and a minor in Entrepreneurship. “Those two degrees laid the groundwork for starting my own company, but the
independent study I did in high school really gave me the courage to pursue film making as a career,” Kramer stated.
"In a world of uncertainties, doubt, and lack of support for the things we love to do, remember that you are the only person who ultimately decides what you get to spend your life doing day-in and day-out. Work hard, stay focused, practice gratitude, and be patient. Everything takes time, and if you work hard, keep your goals in mind, and are pleasant to be around, you will succeed." - Matt Kramer
UX/UI Product Designer
Ciara is currently a UX/UI Product Designer working for a NYC based Cyber Security start up company, Elpha Secure, as their Product Designer. Her day to day job entails understanding, from a psychological standpoint, how users’ minds are wired to interact with technology and digital platforms and what a user needs and wants are to accomplish a task. From a design perspective Ciara creates mood boards, style tiles, and designs digital components such as web pages, and buttons and anything a user needs to interact with to accomplish a task digitally. Ciara started out studying film production in college (thanks to the mentorship of Mr. Leonard) before segwaying into visual design and fashion merchandising. She earned her Associate of Arts in Visual Design & Communications from FDIM and her Bachelor of Business Administration in Fashion Merchandising LIM College. While at LIM College, Ciara had internships with PVH Corporation, and Movado Group Inc.
She started working in eCommerce doing content management/content creation for Movado Group Inc. where she assisted with content build-out, utilizing front-end web development and product management for the design of their eCommerce website. She then worked for Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits on a website doing over $1 billion in revenue. She was also tasked with content creation and video editing. This lead Ciara to her next venture which was a 6 month certification program in User Experience/User Interface design.
"Keep learning. No matter what aspect of art you work in, although it’s fun and creative, there are essential foundational aspects to learn and understand to make you a better artist. Having a strong foundation in psychology and business will allow you to work in an arts field where you can do what you love and make money!" - Ciara Liggieri
Visual Design Director
Jaclyn currently works as a Visual Design Director at a game studio that makes the popular mobile puzzle game, Two Dots! She leads a team of UX/UI designers and together they create interface designs for new game features, and graphics for new game mechanics. The game is very playful and whimsical, so they are constantly creating new game mechanics including cute Egg Dots, Honey, Zappers Tiles, and other fun references. They use a range of software, from Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, to Figma, to Unity for implementation. Jaclyn says, “It’s really great to use a bunch of tools and collaborate with other artists on something as complex as a game!” Jaclyn also always strives to make fun personal work, to explore new
mediums and take a break from work assignments. “I love making animated GIFs, and this has led to commissions and freelance projects I do on the side.” I got my Bachelor of Design from the Penn State Graphic Design program. I interned each summer of college in a variety of design environments -- I worked at a local magazine, a non-profit branding agency, and a creative agency, B-Reel, where I started working full-time after graduation. At B-Reel I learned a lot about branding, designing for web and apps, and working with other disciplines (motion designers, copywriters, editors, directors). After B-Reel, I freelanced, and then I wound up at Two Dots, where I work now, in the Visual Design department.
"Every time you practice, you get better. It can seem frustrating if you don’t feel your final pieces come out exactly the way you wanted, but it truly is the practice of making that helps your next piece improve. Also, always embrace new tools and mediums. Being open-minded to learning new techniques and technologies can open a lot of doors for you later on as the visual arts field evolves!" - Jaclyn McKay
Currently, Emma is the co-owner of Em & Kenzie Studios. She stated, “it’s very hard to run your own business as you do take on many roles. I shoot anything from styled shoots to engagements to weddings to maternity sessions. I also cull and edit all of the sessions myself and you have to be your own social media marketer (until you can afford one).” Emma feels she is constantly learning all the new trends, like creating TikToks and IG Reels and she tries to be informative and interactive on her social media platforms. She has also consistently submits her styled shoots to magazines. “You have to do a lot of self promotion which feels hard and embarrassing, but at the end of the day- it’s so worth it,” Emma advised. Emma wasn’t able to attend college after high school, however, she worked under an award winning wedding photographer for 4 years. During that time she learned a lot about how to shoot and edit and she states, “I was able to use equipment that I would never have been able to afford on my own.” Emma feels that experience has been her best teacher, with the combination of seeking out YouTube tutorials. “I think with a career in the arts, you don’t necessarily need to go to college,” she stated.
"Have confidence. You can’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Working in the arts you’re always going to catch a lot of criticism. I’ve been dissuaded and talked down to, but one of my favorite quotes is “don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from.” That helped me to not take things to heart. I started realizing I was talking to people who always played it safe, but that is not what owning your own business and getting published in magazines is about. I have met so many great artists and colleagues because I put my work out there." - Emma O'neal
William became interested in photography in 2006 when he was 15. William first got interested in photography because of his Aunt Jolanda. He mentioned, “I remember she was taking digital photos of bees. When I saw the photo, it was different from how I imagined it would’ve looked and it made me realize that
nobody else will see those bees the same way that she did.” Like his aunt, William wants to show the world what he sees through photography. William’s primary passion is photographing abandoned buildings which he has been doing for nearly 10 years now. He says he likes to find beauty in things that people don’t usually find beauty in and he has a love for history so he is able to combine those interests when photographing abandoned buildings. William says, “these deteriorating buildings won’t be here forever so by documenting them, it’s kind of like I’m preserving them through my art.” After graduating from Washingtonville High School in 2008, William attended Rockland Community College to study photography. William currently works his “day job” but on his days off, he focuses on his passion of photography. William has been featured in several magazines & on top of that, his photography has allowed him to travel all over the United States, meet many new people, and further educate himself in the field.
"I know it’s cliché but follow your dreams. As an artist, the world will tell you to get a real job or find a real passion. Don’t listen to them, do what your heart says." - William Powell
Natural Science & Children’s Illustrator
Stephanie currently works as a freelance Natural Science and Children’s Illustrator, where her work focuses on wildlife conservation and education. As an artist, she has made it her mission to help make education more accessible to young audiences. This has led Stephanie to work with organizations such as The Endangered Species Coalition, John Heinz Wildlife Refuge and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, teaching natural science drawing workshops, judging art competitions, and creating chalk art for events. Stephanie is also a published children’s book illustrator of, All Dogs Don’t Bite (2021), written by Marie Hernandez, and is currently working on her second book, Cob and the Kingdom (2022), written by Leigh Ann Hughes. While at WHS, Stephanie took classes and summer programs at Mill Street Loft (currently The Art Effect) in Poughkeepsie, which helped her develop her visual art skills, and become a working artist. In 2020, Stephanie graduated from Moore College of Art and Design with a BFA in Illustration and a minor in Business. While in college she interned with Night Kitchen Interactive, creating illustrations for interactive media for the Bruce Museum of Connecticut. This lead her to pursue freelance clients in the museum and children’s education industry. Stephanie’s art process involves researching, and learning much about her subjects before illustrating them.
"Create work that you are passionate about. I found my niche as an natural science illustrator because I love animals, & thought of being a biologist before I realized I could combine my passions. It can be intimidating to pursue a career in the arts. Some may tell you there is no way to make a living, but being an artist is similar to any other career you can go into; you must be focused, willing to learn, & work hard. While college isn’t required, it’s a great place to learn how to discipline yourself & it’s helpful for networking & finding mentors." - Stephanie Weinger