Alumni Insights

Studio Art

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Jon Stasko

Jon Stasko (’06 grad); ’08 MA)
Independent Fine Artist (NY)

“I show and sell my work in local cafes and restaurants, participate in regional and national competitions and exhibits, and offer portrait services. I also create spiritual and historical art with the goal to soon make reproductions. The longer I am an artist, the stronger I feel God’s calling on my life to present His message of truth in visual form. I am humbled and captivated with the responsibility of observing and depicting the truth and majesty of God and His creation.

“When I was enrolled in the Art program, it was the dedication and expertise of my instructors that, I eventually found, gave me a head start in the professional art field. The training I received cultivated technical excellence with traditional time-tested methods, while promoting creativity and an analytical approach to art. I believe this combination to be a major factor in why so many young and emerging artist friends of mine from the program have attained such national notoriety in the fine art world, and hold such prominent positions in the commercial art and design industries.

“In addition to my training, I value the lasting friendships I made with other artists who passionately seek to reflect God in their work. The encouragement I still receive from them pushes me onward in my pursuit of excellence.”

Danny Simmers

Danny Simmers (’00 grad)

  • Art Director, High Resolutions graphics production (TN)
  • Owner, Upscale Advertising—specializing in hand-rendered residential and commercial architectural renderings, portraiture, and illustration/design

“My day-to-day responsibilities include taking clients’ information and creating promotions and campaigns. My favorite part about working in the art/design field is constantly being able to take someone’s idea and exceeding their expectations. I know that my talent is God-given, and that this is where I’m supposed to be.

“PCC’s program taught me to meet deadlines and the basic skills to build upon. The most valuable training to me now is learning to be structured and disciplined.”

Jessica Thompson

Jessica Thompson (’07 grad; ’09 MA)
Illustrated children’s book Sunday Morning with Dad

“I’ve always wanted to be an artist; to bring someone’s vision to life is a real honor and thrill. I couldn’t accomplish any of this without God, who has not only given me a desire and ability to create, but leads me one day at a time.

“I love that PCC’s Commercial Art program begins on a solid foundation of basic principles of art. An understanding of line, form, color, and perspective is essential, especially for an illustrator. The faculty really emphasize the basics and build from there. Getting my Master’s of Art allowed me to really dig into my field of interest, and I am deeply grateful to all my teachers and mentors who pushed me to do my best.”

Brian Neher

Brian Neher (’94 grad)
Professional Portrait Painter (NC)

Brian has painted portraits professionally for over 15 years. His work has been featured in national art magazines, most recently in the Nov. 2009 issue of American Artist. “I get to make a living at something I love to do,” Brian said. “I look forward to each day of painting and can’t wait to get started.”

When considering colleges to attend, Brian visited PCC and was immediately drawn to the quality of artwork on display. He said, “I was impressed by the strong representational approach to art taught by the instructors. During my visit, a faculty art show was on display, and I was amazed by one of Brian Jekel’s paintings. When I found out he was one of the instructors I could study under if I enrolled as a student, my decision was made.

“I had no formal art training before attending PCC, but desired to learn. The foundational drawing classes played a vital role in my development as an artist. The instructors not only talked about art, but had the ability to put their knowledge on paper or canvas to demonstrate what they were teaching. They encouraged me greatly and motivated me to try harder on each new project.

“PCC’s Art program provides a strong foundation in the principles of representational art to build a career upon. I put PCC’s Art program on par with most well known art schools in the country, but at a fraction of the cost.”

Andrea Orr

Andrea Orr (’06 grad); ’09 MFA)

  • Professional Painter (OH)
  • Awards/Honors: Painting featured on cover of Southwest Art magazine (Sept. ’10), and one of 21 artists featured in the magazine.

“You will get no better art training in a Christian environment than you will at PCC. I think the most important part of the program was finally seeing the importance and value of the visual arts. And the Master of Fine Arts program helped me catch the vision that the Lord uses artists when they give their talents back to Him.”

Angela Sekerak

Angela Sekerak (’06 grad); ’09 MFA)

  • Professional Painter (IL)
  • Awards/Honors: Drawing featured in American Artist Drawing Magazine (Summer 10); paintings featured in At Home in Central Illinois (May/June10) regional magazine.

“The undergraduate program in Commercial Art gave me training in painting, illustration, graphic design, and even education. I knew the value of my undergraduate training, and I also wanted to pursue in-depth training that allowed me to focus solely on developing my painting ability. The MFA program allowed me to do that. From my teachers and classmates, I learned not just to be passionate about painting, but to stay with it. Being in the MFA program taught me how important it is to keep growing and honor the Lord with my work. That’s the mental and spiritual preparation I received. Practically, the MFA program brought me to a point in my art where I could begin pursuing art professionally.”

Dan Phyillaier

Dan Phyillaier (’99 grad)

  • Artist, Sight & Sound Ministries (PA)
  • Awards/Honors: Winner of two CGChoice awards for digital illustration

“From my graduation from PCC in 1999 to the present, I have had the job title of Artist at Sight & Sound Ministries. The other artists and I design almost every visual aspect of our live theatrical performances. My responsibilities include being the lead concept artist for the look of the scenes, painting scale backdrops which are enlarged to 30 feet high by 115 feet long, digitally sculpting 20-foot-tall statues, creating detailed animation sequences, as well as designing advertising posters and show logos. I have played a key role in determining the look of a multi-million dollar theater.

“One of my favorite parts of working in Christian ministry is being able to use the talents God has given me for His glory. We receive numerous letters from people who are greatly blessed by our ministry. Many people receive salvation or recommit their lives to Christ after experiencing the powerful display of the gospel on our stage.

“PCC’s art program did a wonderful job of preparing me for my current work by giving me a solid foundation in art principles. They instilled the fundamentals of good drawing and design as well as the value of hard work. If you can excel at PCC, the ‘real world’ is easy. I believe that PCC’s standard of excellence is one of the most valuable things I learned. I attempt to always exceed expectations and do more than what is asked for.”

Christian Hemme

Christian Hemme (’10 grad)

  • Professional Painter (FL)
  • Awards/Honors: Second-place winner in Southwest Art magazine (Sept. ’10) “21 Under 31” artist competition.

Having completed PCC’s undergraduate art program, Christian believes the classical art training in painting and drawing compares with prestigious art colleges in the United States, and completely eclipses large state schools.

“I consider the classical art training at PCC under the direction of Mr. [Brian] Jekel to be absolutely paramount to my success. I am actually a first- and second-generation student of Mr. Jekel; it was ’01 MA grad Marit Guild who actually instilled in me the desire to be a career artist and taught me many of the fundamentals of representational art. I studied art under Marit for six years through middle and high school; once I graduated she recommended I continue my education under Mr. Jekel at PCC. Which I did.”

Mitch Mann

Mitch Mann (’84 grad)

  • Graphic Designer, LifeWay Christian Resources (TN)
  • Independent Artist

“I have been designing Sunday School material for kindergartners for many years now, but have designed material for all ages over my 23 years at LifeWay. After working for two years in the A Beka Book art department, I worked as a freelance illustrator for two years before the Lord led me to LifeWay in 1988. Building pages, overseeing the technical aspects, redesigning covers and materials, working with the editorial team, and approving proofs—these are most of the tasks performed in my position.”

“Many of the same principles of fine art are found in graphic design. Both aspects were taught to me at PCC. I walked away with a very godly and solid foundational Commercial Art education that has equipped me for what God has been directing me to do. PCC also taught the importance of submitting to the Lord and having a personal relationship with Him.”