Spirited transfer, art major Rachel Futterman knew Oswego was 'home'

In this issue’s Spotlight, meet junior art major and illustration minor Rachel Futterman of Vestal, who has been very active this summer as a Laker Leader orientation guide and avid waver of the “Honk if you love Oswego!” sign.

Q. What brought you to SUNY Oswego?
A. As a freshman I went to a different college, so I came here as a transfer student. I had a lot of nerves coming in, because I knew what it was like to go to a college you don’t enjoy. But as soon as I visited here, I felt at home. I felt like I had been here before because of that atmosphere where you feel like you can talk to anybody. It’s like coming home.

Q. How long have you known you wanted to study art?
A. I’ve known forever. I still have my kindergarten thing that says, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and I answered, “Illustrator.” I still want to be an illustrator. I’ve always loved that creative side of myself, and I want to stick with it. I read this quote once: “The artist is the child who never grew up.” It’s such a competitive field, but it’s the only thing I can see myself doing. I’d be happy if I could spend every minute making art. I bring a sketchbook with me almost everywhere I go. On our 20-minute (Laker Leader) breaks, I’m always sketching.

Q. What do you like about the art department so far?
A. Here, I feel the classes are open enough that you obviously learn from them and complete the assignments, but there’s also that that room to create your own style. It’s only in this past year that I’ve come into a style that’s unique to me. For me, it’s almost a form of journalism—my art relates to something that’s within me, something that’s on my mind that pertains to a conversation I’ve had, people I’ve met. I like to draw things that cause people to think in a new way or look at the world in a new way. My favorite part is how easy it is to connect with the faculty. For example, my adviser, Cynthia Clabough: I feel I can go to her with just about anything. I’m in her office at least once a month talking about possible internships, about how I can get involved more in the department.

Q. Are you excited about the reopening of Tyler Hall, our fine arts building?
A. When I transferred here, I didn’t even know it was a thing, because it’s been completely under renovation. Now that they’re clearing away all the construction equipment and I can see what it’s going to be, I’m really excited for it to open! It looks beautiful and I can’t wait to have my classes in there.

Q. What do you think about Oswego students?
A. I feel like I’ve met some of my best friends here, especially among my fellow Laker Leaders this summer. We came in as co-workers, only knew we shared the same campus and now I feel like we’re almost inseparable. The classmates I have outside of orientation are going to be people I connect with for the rest of my life, I think. Within my own department, I love that I get to see other people’s work, other people’s styles. It helps me to grow to see what they’re doing.

Q. How did you become a Laker Leader?
A. I had a great experience here this whole year. I felt like I wanted to give something back to the school. When I was here for new student orientation, all the Laker Leaders made me feel so welcome, and like I didn’t want to go home—I really wanted to get involved in the campus right away. This is a way to supplement my classroom experiences and to learn customer service, making connections, leadership skills.

Q. What are your duties as a Laker Leader?
A. We help run and facilitate new student orientation. We want to make that personal connection to new students, to be that ultimate go-to for each student. We’re their mentors for the two days they’re here (one day for transfers), we guide them through the process of transitioning to college, answer any questions they have about Oswego, and let them know about the resources they have here. Each Laker Leader gets 10 to 15 students each session. We do icebreakers to get to know each other. We go into how to alleviate worries they may have about college. We do a lot of trivia so they learn the main points about the school. We also have a team competition throughout the day to learn the facts, the trivia and to connect with each other.

Q. What is all the sign waving about at the start of orientation?
A. There’s three teams of Laker Leaders, the green, gold and white teams. The white team is the hype team, the welcome crew. We really want to give people that first impression: how happy we are that they’re here, to put a smile on their face. The captain of white team, Joanne (DeLauter) came up with the idea for “Honk if you love Oz!” My boss the first day said, “Rachel, you kill it on that sign!” So now they’ve put me there. (Laughs.)

Q. What else are you involved with on campus and off?
A. I’m involved in Arts Alive, the art club. I was just made an officer, so I’ll be busy with that this year. On my own time, I like to explore the town of Oswego: the farmers’ market, the bookstore, going to the lake or the bluffs and hanging out, swimming, sketching a lot. When I’m sitting around other people, I pull my sketchbook. I love working around other people. I am applying to study abroad for the spring, to go to the University of Westminster in the United Kingdom for the semester. One of my major goals is to travel and to have my work influenced by the places that I go.

Q. Any thoughts about what you might do after graduation?
A. I don’t necessarily have a particular type of illustration that I want to get into. But I know my style and I’m willing to take that anywhere commercially, anywhere it can take me. I work a lot with pen and watercolor. I think of it as realistic with a twist. I never draw exactly what I see; I always put my own flair on it.

Q. What can you tell us about your family?
A. I feel very lucky to have my Mom. We’re very close. She’s always supported me with this art dream that I have. I have an older sister in grad school right now. I have a grandpa who was an artist and an uncle who’s an artist.