ND Stevenson ’13 (Illustration BFA) got an early start on their career, signing a book deal with a senior at MICA. They began working on the book—the young adult graphic novel, Nimona—as a junior. The book was published by Harper Collins in 2015 and was an immediate success. Stevenson became the youngest National Book Award finalist ever when Nimona was nominated for the honor in Young People's Literature. They are also co-writer of the comic series Lumberjanes, recognized for Best New Series and Best Publication for Teens at the 2015 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. Netflix Animation recently announced the movie version of Nimona will be released in 2023.
Before they left MICA, Stevenson sat down to discuss their illustration, inspirations, and advice for students:
Why did you choose MICA illustration?
I always wanted to tell stories with my art. I made some picture books my senior year of high school and I wanted to do more of that. As soon as I came to MICA I learned that what I was doing was illustration.
What is/are the most important thing/things you have learned from your MICA experience?
I learned how to illustrate digitally at MICA, and I learned about comics as a storytelling medium and fell in love with them. I had never really had much formal art training before MICA so I learned more about the art world as a whole here. I also learned how to manage my time, how to fulfill assignments while also making myself happy, and how to be self-directed.
Tell us a little about your work and professional successes:
Summer of 2012 I interned at BOOM! Studios, a comic publishing company in Los Angeles. I had a great time and made a lot of friends in the company, and they offered me a job. I didn't take the job but I still do freelance work for them, like backup comics and covers, and I go to conventions with them still. I also started a webcomic in 2012, landed a literary agent, and signed a two-book contract with HarperCollins to publish my original comic Nimona. I've done freelance for Random House, St. Martin's Press, Label Magazine, and illustrated the cover of Ryan North's choose-your-own-adventure Hamlet book, which is the highest-funded publishing project in the history of Kickstarter. I also won Slate Magazine's Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Webcomic of the Year.
What is your greatest achievement?
Being able to have so much fun with my art projects and getting paid for it!
Words of advice for underclassmen?
Work hard, make friends, don't wait for things to fall into your lap. Take every opportunity and don't be scared. Be nice!!