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News . Feature Stories . First year student's self portrait makes cover of pencil box


February 03, 2015

First year student's self portrait makes cover of pencil box

General Pencil Company to feature Julia Maddalina '18 on promotional materials

By Carolyn Jack

You could say that Julia Maddalina has been penciled in. But now that the General Pencil Company has chosen to feature the CIA freshman and her work on its products and posters, Maddalina’s partnership with the art-supply manufacturer is marking her future with the moral equivalent of permanent ink.

“It was kind of all a happy accident,” said the young artist of her developing ties to General Pencil, which has just issued an art-pencil box with her self-portrait on it.

It’s a connection that grew out of another one. Maddalina, a Presidential Scholar at CIA and a resident of Fairport, N.Y., is the daughter of artists and has been drawing “ever since I could hold a pencil.” Interested in portraiture, she began following artist David Kassan online when she was 14. When General Pencil issued a Kassan pencil box, her parents bought her one. Young Julia drew three images and sent them to him.

When he got the pictures, Maddalina noted, Kassan was meeting with the president of General Pencil and showed them to her. They got excited – and their excitement grew after Maddalina attended the National Portrait Conference in Atlanta on a scholarship that year and went by the General Pencil booth, meeting Kassan and company marketing officer Kirstin Wojtowicz.

Working with artists is a tradition at General Pencil, said Wojtowicz, a member of the family that has owned the business since the 1880s. “General Pencil realizes that, without artists, we are irrelevant.”

But the company doesn’t go hunting for them: “They usually find us,” Wojtowicz explained – and they are people who are already using General Pencil products. Like Maddalina, she added, they also have the right attitude. “[Julia] has a lot of humility. And once I saw her drawings … It was a portrait of a young woman with raindrops coming down over her face. It’s one of the most beautiful drawings we’ve ever seen.”

Wojtowicz envisions a long-term relationship with Maddalina like those the company has developed with other artists. Maddalina’s all for it.

“It’s just an honor for me to be working with them,” she said. “And I’m really glad that CIA has been so supportive.”

Carolyn Jack is an author, critic and freelance writer based in the New York area.

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CIA alumna Josette Galiano’s passion lies in exploring behavior and designing immersive experiences. Fittingly, she’s a consumer insights analyst at @NottinghamSpirk​ and a designer at Florette by Josette​.

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