Addressing the “Uncomfortable” Through Graphic Storytelling
Myranda “Randy” Tristant ’22 knows the world can be “uncomfortable” and “dirty,” but she also knows that it can be a place to heal and reflect, which is exactly what her writing and art aim to do.
She’s spending her summer at Hamilton writing and illustrating her own graphic stories for an Emerson Grant project. She wants to focus her content on mental health and mental illness, which is what “interests [her] the most.” Through her stories, she will address a range of issues, including sexual assault and eating disorders.
Tristant intends to create and share her stories both for herself and “in the hopes that somebody else will read them and feel like it’s not just them.” She stressed the importance of being vulnerable and the power in discussing difficult personal experiences. Tristant said, “I just hope that somebody finds [my work] helpful or finds it relatable and can get some kind of comfort from it because when I was growing up and had to struggle with a bunch of things, one of the only things that helped was reading and thinking ‘Oh, this person experienced this, too!’”
Intended major: Creative writing/Interdisciplinary studies
Hometown: Miami. Fla.
High School: San Silvestre School
The rising sophomore spends the first part of most days writing and then tries to fit in time for illustrations. She begins by developing her initial ideas, writing the story on her computer, and later going back and editing the story. From there, Tristant determines the page and panel size she thinks will best fit her written content and then starts drawing in her panels. She said, “It’s a lot of research and a lot of drawing and buying supplies. It’s fun.”
While Tristant has pursued her creative interests at Hamilton, taking an introductory creative writing course and featuring her work in the Hamilton literary and art magazine Red Weather, she has not always felt supported in her work. She said, “[In high school,] I wanted to be an art major, but . . . I was told, ‘No, I don’t think you should pursue this,’ just because my style isn’t on the fine arts side. It’s more on the illustration side.”
Working on her graphic novel project has consequently helped her use and improve her own artistic style in a way that she had previously been discouraged from doing. She also noted that though she currently intends to major in creative writing, making her own major “might be the right path” and is something she can do at Hamilton.
Working with her faculty adviser, Naomi Guttman, has also helped Tristant feel supported. The project has encouraged Tristant to alter and explore her own artistic style, and she noted, “I’m glad to be working with somebody who’s supervising me and helping me out and telling me, ‘Oh, this makes sense.’
Tristant aspires to eventually become a professional graphic novelist. However, she said that she’d also love to work in publishing or editing, citing an enthusiasm for both reading and editing.
Overall, Tristant wants to push the bounds of her writing and art and help people feel understood and comfortable discussing their experiences. To her, being open about subjects such as mental health promotes a better sense of security. Of her project she said, “I hope it can open doors for people to talk about what they’re uncomfortable saying.”