Ikalanni Jahi (BFA ‘24) transferred to the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design from Oakland Community College in 2019. Her transition was made easier after she was able to apply her former college credits to her Stamps degree.
From attending portfolio expos to enrolling in key classes, here’s how Jahi has made the most of her Stamps experience.
Attending Portfolio Expos
While Jahi was first introduced to Stamps in high school, she was already intrigued by the curriculum. Then, after going to a portfolio expo in 2019, she was set on a clear plan to transfer.
“A couple of Stamps Ambassadors came in and did a presentation for us. There was just something intriguing about how Stamps is set up versus other colleges. Stamps tries to make art and design their own,” Jahi said.
Utilizing Helpful Professors
Jahi says that connecting with professors after transferring was a key part of her Stamps experience. The connections made the transition less daunting, and even broadened her network.
“I kept in touch with a professor over the summer, and I like checking out my painting teacher’s gallery,” Jahi said. “Not only is keeping in touch with your teachers, professors, and lecturers going to help you in school, but that’s just another form of connections for outside of school. After I graduate, I’ll have people in my network that are teaching and working in the industry that can help get my name out there.”
Finding Her Niche
With some of her general education requirements from Oakland Community College out of the way, Jahi was able to jump straight into an explorative curriculum and find her concentration. Jahi is known to tell stories with narrative-based paintings and illustrations at Stamps.
“I love having original characters and being able to portray moments through an image. I love the vibes that come from illustration, single images, and paintings,” Jahi said.
Jahi’s passion for storytelling started at a young age, when she made comic strips in elementary school with her peers. She was also inspired by her mother, who is an art teacher. Jahi later realized that her storytelling was a viable career path, which flourished at Stamps.
“I’ve been doing art for a really long time, and now I’m on the professional stage,” Jahi said. “I started seeing people on the internet becoming freelancers, and I never thought about art in that way.”
Making Core Memories
Jahi’s Stamps experience has also been defined by the core memories she’s made along the way – discovering the “nooks and crannies” of Ann Arbor, and the late night study sessions.
“It was about 3 a.m., and me and my friends were at the Duderstadt. The last bus stops at 3 a.m. It was the middle of winter, and we were trying to run to the bus stop. But we ended up having to trek through snow to get back to our dorms,” Jahi said. “I’d only seen that kind of stuff in movies. The five of us were just giggling and having so much fun together.”
Taking Meaningful Classes
Jahi has also become immersed in a variety of meaningful classes to prepare for her future career – the Professional Practice course with Yen Azzaro, for example. Jahi learned more about contracts, resumes, and even web design.
“That class has everything I ever wanted to learn in high school,” Jahi said. “It taught me how to protect my art in a professional setting. Now, I have skills and tools in my little belt to protect my creative outflow.”
Jahi also made the most of classes like Detroit Connections: In the Classroom, where she was able to get involved in the community.
“I think that Stamps really tries to make a stamp on getting experience out in the community. You’re out in the city, you’re talking with the people and you get to make things based on the people who live there.”
When Jahi’s not in class, she’s getting outside experience as a member of the Stamps Student Advisory Board. The involvement ensures that she has a voice in her college experience.
“It’s so crazy to me that I’m in such close contact with staff members. I feel like Stamps has so many loopholes that can help you gain experience. And if there’s something that we might not feel good about at Stamps, I now have my foot in the door to really help shake it up. I have the opportunity to watch new things come to form,” Jahi said.
Jahi is also a gallery assistant at the Stamps Gallery– where she is living out her childhood dreams and learning more about the industry.
“It gives me this warm and fuzzy feeling that I’m working in a gallery like ‘little me’ would have wanted to,” Jahi said. “I also get to talk with the artists and my coworkers and learn more about their experience.”
Learn more about Ikalanni at ikalanniangaya.wixsite.com.
To learn more about transferring to Stamps, check out the upcoming transfer info sessions.
Story by Katelyn Stuck.