Alumni Spotlight: Bekah Badilla ‘16, Visual Art

Why did you choose to study your particular major?

I didn’t choose my major until the end of sophomore year. I actually took a hiatus from APU and traveled to South America for four months, then decided to start full on into studio art classes the fall of my junior year. Part of the decision was because I really enjoyed a drawing class with Professor Jamie Sweetman. Growing up, I had always done a lot of drawing and painting, but I had doubts about making it my major because I didn’t think I was good enough. But, I recognized creativity was something I was dedicated to and every class I took seemed to reconfirm that it was the right choice.

Describe your career and relate how APU helped you succeed.

My career now is a combination of art and design. I worked as a graphic designer for three years, then took some time off to travel in Asia. This included some personal projects as well as expanding my freelance design and illustration work. I think APU’s professors made a big impact in developing my skills and self worth as an artist. Prof. Dave Carlson, Prof. Kent Butler Anderson, Prof. Jamie Sweetman and Prof. Stephen Childs come to mind. They were all encouraging, thoughtful, and boundary-pushing. I liked the small class sizes at APU, and having the opportunity to have a solo senior show in one of the many galleries was a great experience.

Describe a time where you felt you had found your professional calling.

I don’t know that I’ve figured that out. Being an artist is not a specific path with clear steps. It can be frustrating if you want to have any foresight in your life. At the same time, that unknown aspect allows for opportunities and paths that would never happen otherwise. I’m passionate about design as well, and I’d love to find myself in a space where I can utilize both skill sets in an impactful way. I like to create experiences, in art and design, that are immersive by using new technology that enables an extended reality. These immersive experiences tell a visual story that engages the senses.

What was the most meaningful experience you had at APU?

My most meaningful experience was probably my senior art show. It was cool to have built a strong community in the art department and at APU in general and have that all come together at my show.

If you could give a word of advice to future and current students, what would it be?

Take advantage of your access to knowledgeable professors, studio spaces, tools and materials. It won’t be as easy to have access to all of that once you’ve graduated. Do a lot of experimenting with different art forms. I had a lot of fear that I wouldn’t measure up which kept me from really diving in sometimes. I’ve learned that being an artist is a lifelong journey, and that has allowed me to pace myself and move through fear more gracefully. You are not going to master everything in four years, you’ll always be learning, so just dive in, sharpen your technical skills in school and educate yourself in areas where you’re insecure. When you graduate, remember that every standard is an illusion in some way or another. You’ve got something unique to bring to the table regardless of areas where you may lack.

Bekah Badilla’s mural, “Born Again Babaylan” was featured on Street Art NYC! earlier this year!

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