Mel Vargas

Illustration (BA)

Animation Minor

What would you say has been the most surprising thing you learned at Columbia?
The most surprising thing I learned at Columbia College Chicago is that everyone else is experiencing what I am going through as an artist. I feel that as artists we often feel like our experiences and fears are unique, but there are so many people around you with the same interests who can help you out and give you advice.

What experiences or courses at Columbia do you feel have been most beneficial?
The experiences I found most beneficial at Columbia were definitely outside of class. I had incredible teachers and in class experiences, but I feel like I really learned about myself when I was with my peers. I first found the Illustration student group in my first semester here and it has been an incredible journey ever since. I became vice president and then later club president during my senior year. I am so lucky to have time filled with so much learning, fun, and creative energy.

What are your plans for after graduation?
With everything going on in the world my plans have changed a bit, but my goals have stayed the same. I want to publish more comics. I currently self-publish my work, but I want to see my comics everywhere, in shops and bookstores, too.

Do you have any advice for current students?
My advice for current students is to not just go to class and go home. Spend time on campus. Go to campus clubs and meetings. Meet people who have the same interests as you. These are the people you can turn to for help, who become friends and colleagues. Spend time with people who have the same passions as you and like to spend their free time doing the same thing you do because when you're surrounded by positive creative energy, that’s when you are most successful.