Midway illustrators driven by satisfaction, artistic practice


Berk Oto

Ace Zhang and Risa Cohen have been Midway illustrators for over 2 years.

Adrianna Nehme, Reporter

As their artistic minds scan through different ideas for the next issue of the Midway, seniors Ace Zhang and Risa Cohen settle upon an exciting prospect. At times, multiple drafts are necessary, but the result is always a pleasant visual that leaves them with a sense of satisfaction. 

For more than two years, Ace and Risa have channeled their artistic experience to brighten the pages of the Midway through illustrations that help communicate the story. 

Ace and Risa have always enjoyed drawing. After Ace transferred to U-High as a junior, his adviser, Logan Aimone, noticed his talent and interest in drawing and suggested he draw for the Midway. Since then, Ace has used his passion for drawing to help communicate stories that don’t have photos.

“I like helping people, and I know that running the Midway can be stressful and it’s just nice to have all those visuals from different artists,” Ace said.

Risa attended U-High since kindergarten, but she didn’t start doing art for the Midway until junior year when Midway editor Abigail Slimmon approached her about working on the Midway staff as an artist. She took the opportunity to improve her art.

“It’s a good challenge and learning experience,” Risa said, “because often when I’m doing these illustrations, I’m drawing things that I wouldn’t otherwise be doing in my free time, so I think it’s just a good way to practice my skills.”

Ace and Risa each developed their interest in drawing at a young age. When Risa first began, she didn’t have her current drawing tablet and program. Instead, she would go on art websites and draw with a mouse. While Ace started drawing in kindergarten, it wasn’t until fourth grade when he transferred to digital drawing.

According to Ace, one of his favorite parts about drawing for the Midway is drawing for stories that he is passionate about. He also appreciates the ability to bring the story to a wide audience.

“Some of the topics that you guys talk about are really interesting and stuff that I wanted to have covered anyways,” Ace said, “and it’s just very satisfying to see my art on something that isn’t social media.”

After Ace and Risa are given the drawing idea for a story, they use an online program to sketch it out and then color it in. Since their process typically takes multiple drafts, Risa always enjoys seeing these attempts turn into one product. 

“It’s honestly just really cool,” Risa said, “and I think seeing the final product is the best part because there’s something really neat about seeing writing along with your work and having it be this finishing product.”

It’s this weird dichotomy of both satisfaction and also not necessarily embarrassment per se but that feeling that you just kinda wanna disappear for a moment.

— Ace Zhang

While Ace also finds pleasure in seeing the final product, he also shies from the spotlight and finds it strange when someone mentions that they’ve seen his published art. 

“It’s this weird dichotomy of both satisfaction and also not necessarily embarrassment per se but that feeling that you just kinda wanna disappear for a moment,” Ace said.

While they are each unsure of their future in terms of publishing art, both Ace and Risa will continue to do art regardless. 

“I do intend to do art in the future, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to continue doing art for a newspaper specifically,” Ace said. “Going into college, I’m not exactly sure how that stuff works, so if I’m approached with the opportunity to like, ‘Hey this newspaper needs some art would you like to do it?’ I mean, like, yeah, man.”