To draw on talent, and paper

The Creators, Part I: John Pipino

We put out an appeal for student-work a couple weeks ago. The guidelines are pretty broad – artwork, written content, designs, poetry – you name it. In terms of style we’re open to considering just about anything.

There are some limits, and the work has to accomplish a couple things. The work needs to relate back to the campus community and, more importantly, it needs to inspire a positive message.

The idea actually comes to us from a student. Kathleen Farrell-Decker is a member of the College’s Honors Program. She approached us about using our Coby Live platform to help spread an uplifting message.

We have discovered a story behind every submission. The most powerful way to share the art is to share the artist.

John Pipino

Environmental Management ‘21

2-D Drawing; Portrait Art

Duck drawing

John sent us his work before we made a time to chat. From the start it was clear he was a talented portrait artist. What we wanted to know was why.

We wanted to know why he draws, and why he came to choose to study environmental management. 

“Art has always been a passion. I attended an art education program before transferring into Environmental Management. That was the avenue I was headed down, and that was okay. But interest doesn’t always mean education. And that’s okay, too.”

Then we wanted to know how: how do you jump from one discipline to another? And how do you stay on top of your portrait work?

“I got a lot of questions from friends and family about ‘how do you make that jump?’ It was a transition from the creative to the analytical. I was able to turn my whole life towards an environmental focus.

This was never an assignment so much as an invitation. We asked for joy-inducing work. John sent a sampling.

“Anything I can do to help spread a message of positivity for the community is something I want to do. Art is an outlet for me. That is part of why I didn’t need to make it my career. I didn’t want to ever not have that outlet.”

Artists are creative by nature. Whether they write, draw, sing, all of the above — it shouldn’t surprise us some of the most talented members of our community are multi-talented. The quest for knowledge appears in many forms.

“I had so many interests when I was deciding where to go to school. I picked art. It can be hard to make decisions. I came to Cobleskill with more of a wildlife focus. Now I’m finding I’m more fascinated with forestry. I am enjoying learning about hydrology and entomology.”

“I went to a large high school north of Albany. It was easy to stick with what you liked. I’ve done album art, posters and flyers, things like that. I have some screenprinting in my background. I think I’ve always tied my wildlife interest into my artwork.”

You don’t always need to leave your comfort zone to expand your horizons, but it’s never a bad idea. Inspiration can come from anywhere if you’re looking for it. Sometimes it shows up when you aren’t.

“The birds came from my backyard. As I was drawing them I was sitting at the table looking out the window. They took a couple hours to draw. I guess I work quickly. Some of the others take six, eight, ten hours.”