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Alumni Profile: Cameron York

BFA in Printmaking, Secondary Emphasis in Painting, 2015


On Wednesday, October 25th, Cameron York will be the guest speaker for the Visiting Artist Lecture Series

Cameron talks about her trajectory after Sonoma State University.

While you were at SSU, did you have an idea of what you’d do after graduation?

I didn't know, until my final year at SSU, that I wanted to go to grad school. I thought I might go the route of opening a community print shop and offering classes. But I decided to continue my education and I am so glad I did! I learned so much at the University of Iowa!

How did your studies or activities at SSU influence your future job or school choices? How did you find your various positions.

Sonoma influenced me greatly. If it hadn't been for Kurt Kemp I wouldn't have even known about the University of Iowa. I am a California girl and was deeply unsure about moving to Iowa. Turns out it's an amazing place to be. The community and facilities are some of the best you'll find. I went to grad school right out of undergrad, which was perfect for me. After grad school I knew I wanted to move to a place that had mountains, the ocean, and friends. I decided on Portland. I worked as a preschool teacher, worked in a bakery, all kinds of weird jobs. Then I found my way to Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) and I have been working as the Printshop Manager and Curriculum Specialist for the past two years. It's been so much fun!

What is it like to be a professional artist in your current workplace?   

It is sometimes hard juggling being a working professional and working artist. I am lucky to work in a printshop because I can use all the facilities, but working 40 hours a week does slow down the speed at which I can crank out prints. Not being able to create as much as I did in school has been an adjustment, but maintaining my sketchbook practice has been helpful. I carry it with me always and draw in it whenever inspiration strikes. In my current position I get to work with undergrad and graduate students, giving demos, acting as a mentor, etc., and that is delightful. Passing on my knowledge of print is such a joy!

What advice do you have for current students?

My main two pieces of advice are: 1) trust your voice, and 2) don't pay for grad school. Trust your voice just means that the art you make is unique and that's perfect. Make sure your skill level is there, but always make what feels right to you. Your art will lead you to where you are supposed to be. And when it comes to grad school there is so much funding out there. Schools will pay you to be in their program. When you graduate you don't want to be drowning in debt because chances are you'll be hustling to make ends meet for a little while.

What do you see yourself doing five or ten years from now?

In 5 to 10 years, I would like to be teaching full time and continuing my practice. I also see myself having at least 3 dogs and maybe a goat or two.