Meet Kayla James, a Seeds Alumni who studied at the League on a Seeds scholarship in 2018 and 2021. Kayla is a Jamaican American illustrator, writer, and multidisciplinary artist based in the Bronx, NY. She is a recent Summa Cum Laude graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s BFA Illustration program. Kayla also graduated from the High School of Art and Design. As an avid reader, movie-watcher, and oil painter she loves to do a little bit of everything by creating posters, book covers, interior spreads, album covers, comics, character design, and figure studies from life. She also aims to become a children’s/YA book illustrator. 

How were you initially connected to Seeds? 

My high school art teachers, Richard Weinstein and James Harrington, strongly suggested the program to the class. 

What role did Seeds play in supporting you at the Art Students League? 

Studying at the league helped me improve as an oil painter through the repetitive practice I would get and the suggestions the teachers would make (personally and generally to the class). It was also very rewarding just having a space dedicated to making art. During my breaks in high school, and even right after graduating college, getting to study amongst other creative people craving to learn the same thing was a big inspiration for me to keep creating artwork, because at the League there is affirmation that it’s possible to have a career out of it. 

What did you enjoy about studying at the League? 

I enjoyed having access to the large studio space, and the interesting people you can meet. 

What challenges did you face as a student at the League? 

I didn’t face many challenges. I suppose getting a good spot or a helpful critique in a crowded class. 

What are you up to now? Are you still studying at the League? Are you enrolled in a degree-seeking program? Are you working. Tell us what you’re doing these days. 

I am still studying at the League, I in fact work at the League part time in the gallery! I am also pursuing freelance illustration work. 

What’re your goals for the future? 

I hope to write and illustrate several books- whether it’s children’s picture books, or one-off stories intended for an older audience. I also hope to make poster illustrations, editorial illustrations, animations/storyboards for companies, etc. 

What advice would you give to a current Seeds student? 

Just keep creating. Even if you have artist block, or are feeling discouraged or insecure, never give up. Keep your creativity and fun alive. 

Jamaican American 
The High School of Art & Design
Fashion Institute of Technology
Speilberger Spanierman Scholarship

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