The faces behind the Expo markers

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One might expect to find fine pieces of art in a library — a Monet here, Warhol there — but what comes as a surprise is that at the Harold B. Lee Library, instead of oil paints and canvas, the medium is Expo markers and whiteboards.

Students, some artists and some skilled doodlers, are to thank for the images that brighten up the library. Current library artists share how they found their positions, their inspiration for the sketches and how they hope their art impacts the library.

Emily Ryan, a senior from Washington, is one of the whiteboard artists. Ryan said since she was a freshman she thought drawing on the whiteboards would be a fun job.  A couple years later she had her turn as she got a job at a library desk and the person who was previously in charge of the whiteboards left.

“I was like, ‘Finally, this is my opportunity to do my dream job of drawing on the whiteboard,'” Ryan said. “I asked my co-worker what his favorite cartoon character was; he said Wally. So I took a very long time and drew a very detailed drawing of Wally on this piece of white paper then handed it to my boss and said, ‘This is my application to be the whiteboard drawer.'”

Ryan said she draws mostly cartoon characters, and each drawing takes about six hours, but it can vary depending on the detail of the picture and how many colors are used. She said the hardest part isn’t drawing the figure, it is thinking up clever and relevant words to put with the picture that point students to the reference desk.

“The hardest part for me is figuring out what to write,” Ryan said, “the words are there. (I have) to make it relevant to the character then also relevant to the reference desk, (while) trying to make it clever and funny.”

Madeline McNeil, the resident artist at the humanities desk, said she like to replicate famous pieces of art to make it relevant to her desk. She said she hopes her drawings help students know they are there to help.

“I would hope that it helps people understand what we have on the floor because we are here to help with research,” she said. “Our floor has much more than just art history, but I hope it brings attention to our desk that we are here to help and that we can help the people who are trying to find books, or do research.”

David Layton, former library employee, said along with being informative, the whiteboards are meant to just make people smile.

“I thought they were just something that would make people smile, but it was also a way I could promote our services in a rather fun way and a cost-effective way.”

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