Jason Rosen and Steve ellis of ‘Monsterrwood’

Artist and UConn alumnus Jason Rosen spoke at the Fine Arts convocation and said he was still a child when he realized he was different from most other kids. He was always drawn to monsters and heroes, the characters that stood out from the rest and were ostracized. 

Years later, Rosen turned his passion into a career, teaming up with Steve Ellis to create Spinwalker Studios and produce “Monsterwood: The Graphic Novel.”

Both Jason Rosen and Steve Ellis spoke to students at a convocation hosted by the Department of Art and Art History and the School of Fine Arts. All art students were required to attend the convocation held in the Student Union Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Monday.

Ellis advised aspiring artists to gain skills by working on many different projects and to learn how to sell those skills. 

Professor of Illustration Cora Lynn Deibler highlighted some of Ellis’s accomplishments as well as his contributions to graphics for The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Marvel Studios, among others. 

“We’re all here to celebrate creativity and commitment,” Deibler said.

Ray DiCapua, Associate Professor of Sculpture and Drawing, described his first experience with Rosen and recalled being impressed by what was behind his not-so-impressive artwork. Rosen had “unreal ideas that he could make real.” 

Rosen and Ellis joined forces to create Monsterwood, a graphic novel that features fantastical characters of all colors and sizes. The duo said the graphic novel follows the story of two main characters who venture into Monsterwood to find answers about a tragedy that occurred in their kingdom years ago. 

The pair showed many slides to the students, demonstrating the development of characters in Monsterwood and the work it took to finalize the images and storyline they now have. 

“Even your mistakes will lead you to the next thing,” Rosen said, urging students to undergo trial and error experimentation. “The more you struggle, it will keep leading you to something.” 

Before Rosen and Ellis took the stage, Head of the Art and Art History Department Anne D’Alleva announced that the Fine Arts program has three university scholars, the highest honor a student can receive at UConn. Though the department holds a small percentage of the student body, D’Alleva congratulated the students and department on the talent they have shown. 

Two alumni from the Fine Arts Department also spoke to the students about opportunities for work after graduation. The former students were part of AIGA Connecticut, The Professional Association for Design. Encouraging students to make connections and leave their imprints in as many ways as possible, the speakers advised students to participate in volunteer projects. The alumni said AIGA offers students the chance to gain artistic experience after graduation.



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