August 15, 2023

Q&A with Maker-in-Residence Rue Sparks


by Kris Hurst

Ignite Studio welcomes our next Maker-in-Residence, Rue Sparks. Visit Ignite Studio September-December 2023 to meet them.

Artist, poet, animator, author, designer, professor—Rue Sparks has worn a lot of labels, but the one thing they’ve always aspired to be is simply a storyteller. Rue received a BFA in Illustration and Digital Media from Kendall College of Art & Design, then spent over a decade working in fast-paced digital advertising agencies creating designs for Fortune 500 companies. Today their work is more personal, but they take no less care in its creation. They create poetry, stories, novels, zines, and artwork that tread where trauma and healing align, and advocate for creators to have the tools to create and distribute their own work.

Q&A with Maker-in-Residence Rue Sparks

What mediums do you work in and why?

I tend to fall back on graphite pencil, ink, and watercolor time and again. As someone with a pain disorder, I have to be efficient and careful with my time management. I used to create much more sprawling, profoundly technical work, but my disability has forced me to consider what are the most important aspects of what I’m making. I also spent over a decade specializing in digital media, including digital painting, photo editing, motion graphics, animation, and even a little web development!

Where do you draw artistic inspiration from?

It’s interesting being at the conjunction of visual and written art forms, because it forces me to evaluate how things work on a narrative as well as technical level. Style-wise, there are artists and authors that I follow and admire for how they make things. There are others that inspire based off their narratives and themes. I try to keep my eyes and ears open for new ways to create, but as far as what inspires my own subjects, my curiosity is my biggest tool. Sometimes the simple act of asking ‘what if’ leads you down a rabbit hole. “What if someone was actually followed by a personal rain cloud?” “How would someone realize time stopped in a single room in their house?” This is why I love science-based podcasts and books—my mind is very right-brain focused, so looking at more objective parts of the world gets my thoughts going in a different direction.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

One artist I have been following for almost fifteen years is LimKis on deviantArt. Her work pushes the bounds of vector art—a type of digital artwork based on shapes rather than pixels. While many vector artists were focusing on simple silhouettes and line to get their idea across, she was innovating using blur, gradients, and transparencies to create art reminiscent of digital paintings, while retaining the vivid and sometimes geometric tendencies of the medium. When it comes to writers, I adore poet Nikita Gill. I first discovered her on Instagram, and have since devoured several of her books. My favorite is “Your Heart is The Sea,” which combines poetry, prose, and imagery, and focuses on healing from trauma and being your own advocate.

What art accomplishment are you most proud of?

This is a little hard to quantify, but every time I’ve tried something new and succeeded! I remember the first short story I completed, when I barely knew what I was doing but kept trying anyway. That first taste of ‘I can do this’ is one of the things I live for as a creative person. I had this perception that there were people that were ‘good’ at certain things and not others. I learned that hard work and dedication trump ‘talent’ every time.

What is something you still hope to accomplish in art?

I have yet to finish a series, so that’s my next goal. I have a tendency to drop things when they become too long and involved, so I’m focusing on ways to make my next project continuously interesting to me. I have been (very, very slowly) hammering away at my newest project coming out in the fall, The Dragon Warden. It’s my first series, and I’m attempting to bring together different mediums within my writing and art to tackle it. While I had previously only used my art as a companion to my writing, I hope to find innovative ways to mix the two. What this looks like, I haven’t ironed out yet, and that’s half the fun!

What kinds of things will you be doing during your residency in Ignite?

We will be focusing on where art and the written word collide, including workshops on combining the two in different forms. I will also be helping would-be-authors figure out which path to publishing makes sense to them, and exploring the ins and outs of self-publishing. Last but not least, we will be creating an anthology featuring art, poetry, and prose from all our amazing creators in the HEPL community! Contribute your work to the anthology that will be published in December and available to library patrons.

Schedule Highlights

Art, Poetry & Short Story Anthology
In this anthology we will highlight artwork, comics, poetry, and short nonfiction and fiction by local creators. All work must be original. The theme for this anthology is “Growth.” Simultaneous submissions and previously published work allowed. Work must be appropriate for all ages, and will be broken into three sections within the book: Kids, Teens, and Adults.

Submissions due November 1st

Open Studios Fall 2023:


Join Maker-In-Residence, Rue Sparks, for open studio time. Drop in with your art, writing, and/or publishing questions. If you’d like to submit work to the Maker-Space Anthology but need some help, pop in for a work-session and get guidance. Worksheets are also available for a fun pick-me-up project! All ages.

Tues 9/12 • 1-5pm
Sun 9/24 • 12-4pm
Mon 10/02 • 4-7pm
Sat 10/14 • 12-4pm
Tues 10/17 • 1-4pm
Sun 10/29 • 12-4pm


Drop in with your art, writing, and/or publishing questions. Rue will be working on all editing, formatting, packaging, and creating marketing materials for the Maker-Space Anthology during this time. Worksheets are also available for a fun pick-me-up project! All ages.

Thurs 11/9 • 12-4pm
Sat 11/18 • 12-3pm
Mon 11/20 • 4-7pm
Sun 11/26 • 12-4pm
Mon 12/4 • 4-7pm
Thurs 12/7 • 12-4pm

Anthology Launch: Get to Know Your Local Creators & Keep Making Into 2024
What better way to celebrate than make more things? Part book launch and part creativity session, this laid back event is a chance to get to know the creators highlighted in the Maker-Space Anthology, ask your burning questions on ‘how they did it,’ and end the year right: making even more things.

Sat 12/9 • 3-5:30pm

To see a full listing of Rue’s classes, visit our event calendar.