Student Spotlight Series: Meet Stephanie Gasparich

Our Photography Dept. Director, Jeanne Donegan, took a moment to interview one of our flourishing Lillstreet Photography students, Stephanie Gasparich. Stephanie took her first Portrait Photography class at Lillstreet in Summer 2015 and has since established her own portrait business.

Check out the interview below and be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming Portrait Photography courses at Lillstreet in the upcoming Fall 2017 Session!

Can you start by telling us how you first became interested in photography?

I wish I could say that I picked up a camera as a child and fell in love, but my passion started only recently. After talking to my husband about upgrading our camera for our travels, he bought me a DSLR for Christmas almost three years ago, as well as a lesson with our wedding photographer, Christy Tyler. I didn’t take it out of the box for almost a month because I was terrified of using such an expensive piece of equipment. I started studying photography online, and then I had my lesson with Christy. That’s when I became hooked. I spent most of my free time reading about photography, watching tutorials, and practicing. A few months later I took my first course at Lillstreet and that’s when it crossed the threshold of obsession.

What was your experience like at Lillstreet?

I remember both my class and my classmates very fondly, and I learned a ton. I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for the course, but I was really happy with the content and the assignments. I had very little experience at the time, so it was a little intimidating to show my work at first and be critiqued. However, everyone in the class, including the instructor, was encouraging and supportive. Oddly enough, my favorite homework assignment was self-portraiture. It’s something I NEVER would have done on my own, and really enjoyed! I’ll be taking another course as soon as I find one that fits my schedule.

You’ve since built up your own photographic portrait business, which seems to be doing really well! What is it for you about portraiture that you find so compelling?

I just find people so compelling! We’re inundated with photos of people on a daily basis, and yet we never grow tired of looking at them–at least I don’t. Creating a shot that captures someone’s personality or connection with others is really special.

Would you say you have a particular style to your work? What’s your approach to a shoot generally like?

I’m still developing my style, but I try to always use natural light to create an image that feels fresh. I like to start my sessions by giving my client(s) a few hints about what tends to be the most flattering for women and men. I don’t like giving a ton of instruction because I think that can limit people. I’ve found that most people are really great at posing! I also like to show my clients some images in camera during the shoot. Most of the time it gives them a major boost in confidence, and then the session gets really fun! And lastly, I always try to get people laughing because there’s nothing like a genuine smile in a photo.

What advice would you give to a Lillstreet student who might be considering taking their first photography class?

Go for it! I loved the two courses I took at Lillstreet because they pushed me out of my comfort zone. I think that’s equally important for both seasoned and new photographers. The assignments force you to think about your craft differently, and have had a positive effect on my work and how I think about my subjects. I learned a great deal from my classmates as well. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the portrait course I took.

To see more of Stephanie’s work visit her website

Or follow her on Instagram @stephaniegphotography

Lillstreet’s 3D Print Intern Here to Help You Learn


When you meet Nick, you’ll notice a couple of things. Number one: he’s tall. At 6’3″, with a mop of shaggy hair, he towers over the miniature PLA plastic figures that he helps oversee. Number two: Nick is a modest guy. He insists that he practically “failed at art.” Don’t let any of that fool you. The Lane Tech student is here and ready to help.

While Nick’s enthusiasm lies with “science-y stuff” like physics, chemistry and psychology, he has a soft spot for the creative potential for 3D printing. His first taste of the technology came during a class at school. Lane Tech has a huge maker lab that caught his eye. Though he didn’t follow the “correct path” of all the computer science prerequisites, the tinkerer by nature applied to the 3D model and printing class and was accepted.

Nick has excelled at the medium, and has already fixed the extruder for Buster Bot, and printed a filament guide to keep our prints nice and clean. He’s hard at work, experimenting on how to integrate the 3D print lab with printmaking, metals and ceramics.

Though he’s a busy guy– he also works with the Red Moon Theatre program through After School Matters and was an instructor’s assistant at his karate dojo– he is here to help the Lillstreet Community with their 3D printing needs. For now, he’s here on Tuesday afternoons, hoping someone walks in with questions.

Welcome, Nick!

Ceramics and Animation

Digital Arts and Photography can be standalone arts practices, but look what happens when we combine them with another Lillstreet favorite: Ceramics.


Caleb Wood is an experimental animator known mostly for his hand-drawn work, but this video shows the familiar progress of creation in clay. From actual time-lapse footage of wheel-throwing to subtle motion of the body, and finally the element of play in surface treatment, this non-narrative video is an interesting look at the craft.


This video shows a more intertwined marriage between ceramic and animation. By combining the idea of a zoetrope with pottery decoration, this work strengthens both disciplines, bringing together unexpected elements of both art forms.



Timelapse photography is a great way to show growth and progress, and in this video, we see the creation of an otherworldly creature.


Inspired by any of these videos? Curious as to how to make them yourself? We have all of the tools right here. Create your own path with us, and find yourself somewhere you didn’t expect!

3D Printer at Lillstreet!

Hey, who’s this little guy?


Well, it’s Threedie, our first successfully 3D printed object! This past month, Lillstreet got its 3D printer for our quickly-evolving digital maker space. The model is a Printrbot Simple, and we’ve named it Buster. Here it is in all its shining metal glory:



We’re still on the learning curve, but you can stop by to visit us during any open studio hours to say hello.

Keep an eye here and on the calendar for any 3D printer updates like classes, demos, workshops and progress reports.



Animating Your Own Artwork

Click on over to this lovely little post over on MakeZine to see how one fiber artist brings her work to life. She created a short, stop-motion PSA using entirely hand-knit sets and creatures. The results are adorable!

nudinits screen shot

Afterwords, take a look at the Lillstreet Catalogue to find out how you can animate your own work!

Animating in Photoshop

Use a computer to animate 2D images! You can use drawings, photos, and video to the limits of your imagination!

Stop Motion Animation

The video in the link above is an example of stop motion! You can bring life to any sculptural or two-dimensional artwork. Though stop motion is known for being an intensive art form, we’ll focus on shorter, simpler projects to get you started in the world of animation.

Stacia Yeapanis and the art of collage

As seen from third floor landing

Stacia Yeapanis has begun installing a collage in the Gallery Annex at the Lillstreet Art Center. It has been a joy to pass the evolving work, titled “When Things Fall Apart,” on my daily ascension to my studio.

As a digital artist and animator, I take special care to notice the change in perspective as I pass each day. Not only has the collage taken on new forms during the passage of time,  but the shapes and interest change as I view it from new vantage points. My favorite viewpoint is perched above the gallery, peering over the third floor landing. From here, the shapes take on a completion and a fullness. The forms merge into a whole that effaces the individual cuts and bits.


A selection of my own work that uses elements of digital collage. It includes stop motion animation of found objects layered with scanned images that are digitally arranged. Click to view motion.

I tend to work in layers, as well. Whether moving or stationary, building up a mixture of found objects and original assets adds to the world-building magic of animation.

A detail of the work. Familiar commercial images take on a new meaning as the beauty of color and texture emerges with the visual rhythm of repetition.

An inherent comedy emerges with the objects chosen in “When Things Fall Apart.” Though the full work is stunning and elegant, when viewing details, we see that these large forms are made from sandwiches, tendrils of hair and swatches of clothing ads. In this way, the layers and the whole form a fun and light dialogue with the admittedly dramatic title.

I’m excited to see the evolution as time goes on. Please, come and take a look more than once to get the full effect of this living installation. It’ll be up until December 5th, with many changes to come!

Fun with Animated GIFs

Last session’s teen GIF-making class was a real hoot. Together we made a variety of moving images in Photoshop that are perfect for sharing with friends and posting to personal websites.


GIFs are not new. In fact, the  format is older than any of our Lillstreet learners taking the class. The format makes it easy to share animated images, which can lend a real sense of surprise or humor to online communication.

rollingchair Dragon_Cat



What’s next for GIFs? Popular image-sharing sites like GFYCAT and Imgur are translating the mini-movies into new, heartier and higher quality formats like HTML5. GIFs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so join in on the fun at Lillstreet. In our Early Winter session, we’re offering a Holiday GIFs class for adults and a class for teens called Creating Animated GIFs for the Web.

Pleasure to meet you! An introduction to your Digital Artist in Residence


Glorified Selfie #2

Greetings from the 3rd Floor.

I’m Jessi Meliza, Lillstreet’s Artist-in-Residence for the Digital Arts Department. You can find me alternating between drawing and animating in Digital/Painting Classroom C. I’m teaching classes in Photoshop and animated web content this Winter. Check out my faculty page here.

In the meantime, keep your eyes on the Digital Arts and Photography blog to see links to exciting technological goings-on at Lillstreet and beyond!

Animated GIFs and Cinemagraph Classes Begin Next Week

Our new digital department artist-in-residence, Jessi Meliza, has two awesome animation classes starting next week–Animated GIFs (for adults) and  Cinemagraph (for teens). Registration closes soon—don’t miss out!


For Adults: Animated GIFsFridays, 10am-1pm 

Create flashy animated GIFs that you can share on the web. Students will learn to digitally create and animate colorful images, understand the basics of the twelve principles of animation and make beautiful moving images that rival professionally created content.

polar (1)


For Teens (13-16)CinemagraphThursdays, 4:30-6:30 

Watch a photoshoot come alive with Cinemagraphs, a hybrid of video and high-end photography pioneered by fashion photographers Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg. Now a mainstay on new media websites, Cinemagraphs are the next logical step of gifs. Students will learn to set up a basic photo/video shoot to gather content and create stunning images with a hint of motion.

paloma (1)

Katie Mills, Multi-Talented Artist, Designer, and Craftsperson Extraordinaire

Katie Mills teaches graphic design at Lillstreet

Katie Mills, instructor of graphic design at Columbia College Chicago and Lillstreet’s Digital Arts & Photography Department and owner of Lady Faye Jewelry, was (surprisingly enough) nervous about being interviewed for this project. She signed a follow-up email: “A little nervous… but excited!” I’m not sure there’s a better way to capture her spirited and humbly quirky way of talking about her work as a teacher and as a craftsperson.

Katie’s creativity and her passion are the logic of the way she talks about her work—she tries to capture so much in one breath! On her creative history, she says, “I loved high school art classes, and my mom, when we were kids, would have us do all these projects. What do you want to do? ‘Projects!’ So there are terrible kid projects everywhere, you know? So then I went to undergrad for art, specifically graphic design, but I’ve also dabbled in a lot of fields, like printmaking. When I moved to Chicago, I interned at a letterpress company.”

On inspiration: “I think for me it’s always been my family. Specifically I always talk about my grandmother. She is, I don’t know, just one of those people that are very independent and old school. And she, in her spare time, painted. So when I was a kid we would always paint. She always, and still does, inspire me.”

Throughout my conversation with Katie, I was struck by the balance she has found time and time again in her life between her graphic design work and her metal work. “If I could just be in the metals studio all the time! Although, it’s nice to balance it with graphic design. When I was in undergrad I took metalsmithing classes, and I was a graphic design major, so it was a great balance. I enjoy being on the computer, but I really enjoy not being on the computer.” That same balance comes through in her work with Lady Faye Jewelry.

“I like working in the studio, but I also like creating the branding, doing the shows. That’s where I feel my inspiration comes from. My mom and my grandmother, they’re both able to multitask well and are very entrepreneurial. With Lady Faye Jewelry, I really just enjoy creating these pieces and branding them and talking to people, and people are interested in them.”

handmade rings by Katie Mills of Lady Faye Jewelry

“The most recent pieces I created were cast from volcanic rock that I collected on a backpacking trip with my sister in Central America. I like exploring and collecting things to see if I can use them. I think people enjoy knowing the story behind the person and the process… those are the conversations I really enjoy—people who are interested in the process.”

The idea of nostalgia kept coming up with Katie. She explained the first set of rings she made at Lillstreet: “They were just kind of these quirky glass buttons. They’re from the Czech Republic. They made all these glass pieces, so I started collecting. I think I’ve always been a collector of things. I had a soap collection as a kid, which I still have. Yeah, so, I just had a little box of [the buttons], and I had saved all my metalsmithing tools that I had acquired in undergrad. So I decided to give it a whirl again.”

There’s so much more to say about Katie’s work, but we’ve also got to cover her work as a graphic design instructor!

Katie Mills, faculty member at Lillstreet

“The classes I’m teaching are more on the technical side. The beginning—this is the software, these are the tools, this is how you set up a file. I think for me it’s mostly that I enjoy working with people! I like the technical aspect. I really enjoy teaching.”

“Problem solving is a lot of it. There’s so much information, if I don’t know the answer I’m gonna figure it out! And that’s my job, and I enjoy the challenge of figuring things out and working with students. And then, you know, they’re happy because they’re solving a problem and learning.”

For the future: “I want to take more metalsmithing classes. I feel that for a while I was just producing, like making 30 similar rings and I really want to learn new skills from the amazing teachers here. I want to expand my knowledge. There’s so much I don’t know.” And for graphic design: “I would like to keep working in the education. It’s fun to see students get excited. Awesome, you know?”

Check out Katie’s work in the Lillstreet Gallery, in her Etsy shop, and on Facebook!