Student Spotlight: Izak Moleterno

Award-Winning Graphic Designer & Illustrator is also a Nice Fellow

Izak Moleterno is a 20-year-old Bachelor of Fine Arts student at NDSU, pursuing visual development for animation. We met him a few months ago after one of his professors referred him to The Nice Center as a potential candidate for graphic design work. Since he’s joined our team Izak’s been integral in keeping us on brand while also receiving state-wide recognition for one of his side projects.

Why did you choose to go into design? 

Right from the start I loved drawing characters and watching animated movies. I was doodling and learning non-stop and always trying to get better. I kept a sketchbook and pencil with me at all times from a very young age. As the years went by I drew a lot, but it was never anything more that just a hobby. I had never even considered pursuing it as a career, despite the great responses and the talent I had developed. After my first semester of architecture I decided that it wasn’t worth doing something I didn’t love and switched to be an art major. Since then it has been non-stop growth and I am loving what I do.

You just won an award from the American Advertising Federation of North Dakota (formerly known as an ADDY). Tell us more. 

My contribution to the ADDY’s was a last-minute submission to fulfill a class requirement, and I thought nothing more of it for months. I was really happy and proud to have my work recognized in that way, it was very fulfilling to me as an artist.

What are your hopes for your academic career? 

My plans for my time at NDSU are to make an impact and to be an example of hard work for future classes. Honesty I want to be one of the students the teachers talk about in their classes and say he really worked hard and had something to be proud of. I think my illustrations can have mass appeal and I’m working on giving them emotions and a story in one image. I want to maximize my time as a student to grow as much as I can in my craft and skill and to grow as an experimental visual thinker so that I can harness ambitious concepts more easily. I want to use my time and resources to their absolute maximum potential every day. I want my baccalaureate show to be the best work I have ever done in my life and for it to really show how passionate and hard working I am with my drawings. And I want work hard enough for everything I make after that to be even better.

What are you looking forward to in your career? 

My future plans are to have a full-time career as a freelance or in-studio visual development artist, illustrator, and character designer for animation. Ideally, in a world where I develop my skills to a sufficient point I would want to work for Pixar Studios or Sergio Pablos Animation Studios.
I want to use my time and resources to their absolute maximum potential every day.

Walk us through your design process and one of your favorite illustrations. 

For this particular illustration I was inspired by the article the illustration is based off of. The writer told an outlaw sports story and I wanted the composition to reflect that. They stand against the viewer with their eyes all facing different directions as if they are cornered by an opposing force. The piece looks really painterly and sketchy because I was trying to get them done as quickly as possible while maintaining volume and value. The stylization is infuenced by the sports cartoonist Karmo Ruusmaa. I think it turned out dope.

How have you grown and been supported while studying here at NDSU?

Since transferring to NDSU I have really been able to grow consistently in a short amount of time. I’ve been drawing ever since my earliest memories of sitting in church and doodling on the bulletins instead of listening to the sermon. During high school, and my freshman year at Pratt community college, drawing and art took a back seat to running track, that’s what I dedicated most of the day time to, but here and there I found time to scratch that creative itch.
I started out as an architecture major at NDSU, but the only part of it I liked was the drawing, and even then it was too restricted. In my second semester of sophomore year I transferred to the art program and it has been a rocket ship ride ever since. As far as my personal growth I would say being consistent and intentional in my Christian walk has brought me a lot of focus and purpose. I lead a small group in CRU and have great relationships and community through that. Though I haven’t put pen to paper on it yet, my greatest visual inspirations come from the Bible and theology. I can picture the intense heavenly and glory-filled scenes described in the Bible more vividly than anything else. I am intent on visually exploring Biblically accurate angelic and theological themes in my baccalaureate work.
I’m in the beginning stages of my career as an artist but the amount of opportunities and reassurance I have already gotten is more than I could have hoped for. I want to thank God for giving me this talent, he deserves all the credit. I’m honored to have received my first award for illustration at the ADDYs this year.
I’m thankful for all of my past and current patrons all over the country for giving me the push and practice and resources I need to reassure me about my current life path. I thank my mom for teaching me how to draw when I was very young and my dad for not letting me settle for anything less than my best work. I’m extremely thankful for my girlfriend for supporting me and helping me with everything and for reassuring me that this is absolutely what I am put on this earth to do. I really want to thank my bosses Dane and Scott at The Nice Center for giving me an incredible opportunity to illustrate professionally this summer, I’m extremely excited that I get to work on it and that they have so much faith in my work.
I’m never going to be as good as I want to be and I am going to keep practicing and growing and reaching for my goals and I think this is a great starting point.

See more of Izak’s work at & follow him on Instagram: izakartwork
Posted on April 3rd, 2020 by Dane Johnson in News and Stories