Animation-Nation: ‘Blue Period’

“Before I started painting, I thought painting was a magic that only a selected few could use.”

Art: one of the most beautiful things that we were given on this earth. As it evolved over time, we have come to see art in many different forms and expressions. However, there’s this strange notion behind it. That the only people who create art are chosen, those gifted with talents and nothing more. Like everything else in life, art is something that requires hard work, with talent only taking you so far. That is what Yatora Yaguchi learns in “Blue Period.”

“Blue Period,” based on the manga by Tsubasa Yamaguchi, directed by Koji Masunari and Katsuya Asano, follows Yatora Yaguchi. Yaguchi is an excellent high school student, but deals with the feeling of emptiness in his life. It is not until he sees a painting at his school’s art club that he pursues the visual arts, deciding to try (and get accepted) into the Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA) after he graduates.

Being an art major myself, I can say that this show is one the best depictions of showing the life of an artist, and some of their uprisings as well. At the beginning of the show Yaguchi is a prime example of what most people assume the life of an artist would be like. When seeing a painting, he raves about how he envies someone that was born with such talent. While artists understand that people are trying to compliment them, it is important to acknowledge that talent only took them so far. To create something artists can be proud of, requires hours of practice and dedication, something that Yaguchi finds out quickly when he has a change of heart and decides to pursue art himself.

“Blue Period” also does a great job of depicting the harsh realities of being an artist. One of the biggest challenges Yaguchi faces is telling his parents how he wants to pursue art in college. Now thankfully, my parents were supportive in my pursuits of being an art major; however, there are plenty of people that I have met who struggle with having any kind of support in their path of becoming an artist. We hear the same questions of concern all the time. “How will you make money?” “What kind of work will you find?” “Will anyone buy your art?” Believe me, we are aware of the concerns, but we do it because it’s our passion and that is what this show exemplifies.

When watching “Blue Period” as an artist, I can say with confidence that the show educates the audience, along with the main character, the various artistic techniques. With the author of the manga graduating from art school herself, she made sure to make this story as accurate as possible. Making sure each technique is right, while also showing the struggles many artists face trying to consistently create great pieces of work. The only critique I have of this show is that the pacing is too fast, as they skipped out on a lot of Yaguchi’s development of an artist compared to the manga. I would assume it was so they could fit the first part of the story in 12 episodes.

Art, while not math or science, is still physically and mentally demanding. It is not something that can be rushed or learned quickly. It requires patience, practice, strong will and the motivation to create something beautiful. Artists go through the same struggles as Yaguchi, but we all do it because it’s something we love. And, at the end, being able to see something we created makes all the hard work worth while

Title: Blue Period

Directors: Koji Masunari,, Katsuya Asano

Starring: Johnny Yong Bosch

Streaming: Netflix

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5

Contact Gabriel Zarazua at


NDIAS announces designer Thom Browne as artist-in-residence

The Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDAIS) announced that Thom Browne ‘88, a former GQ Designer of the Year and three-time winner of the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award, is this year’s artist-in-residence.

Browne graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in business in 1988, and he launched his fashion company in 2001. His designs have been featured in museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. He is known for his reconceptualization of the suit, and he has dressed celebrities like LeBron James, Michelle Obama and Cardi B.

Each year, NDAIS gathers a group of faculty fellows, graduate students and undergraduate scholars to address a central research theme, which for 2022-2023 academic year, is “The Public.”

Thom Browne joins nine other faculty fellows, including three Notre Dame professors, a writer from the New York Times, and faculty from Villanova University, the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, the University of Washington and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Meghan Sullivan, director of NDAIS, Wilsey Family College Professor of Philosophy and author of “The Good Life Method,” explained the key questions guiding the theme.

“What’s great about public life, what’s challenging about public life? What do we want public life to be like in the future? Where did our ideas of the public-private distinction come from? How does public life matter to us?” Sullivan said.

NDAIS staff and a faculty advisory board announce the theme a year in advance, and it usually involves a “big, ethical question,” Sullivan said. 

“Go back in your mental time machine to January 2021, December 2020. It was peak pandemic, social distancing was everywhere,” Sullivan said. “And I think something that was very much on the minds of all the Notre Dame folks that we were talking to is ‘we want public life to come back, we want to be able to be in public spaces again, but we have no idea what that’s gonna look like.’”

NDAIS seeks to recruit a non-professor who is involved in the theme to be a faculty fellow each year. They were inspired by the connection between Browne’s designs — which often involve suits and formal event wear — and the idea of a person’s public appearance.

“[Browne] is the top designer in men’s fashion for sure right now,” Sullivan said. “When it comes to top fashion designers who engage athletes and celebrities, he’s everywhere. And his work is weird and cool. You can’t look at that picture of Oscar Isaac in a skirt and not start doing philosophy.”

Sullivan said that she has a few goals for Browne’s engagement with Notre Dame this year. 

“One, ​​I want the Notre Dame community to realize that top fashion designers, like Thom, say and make interesting arguments about public life and what it means to us in ways that other people cannot,” she said. “Second, we want for Thom’s engagements to elevate conversation and attention about how seriously Notre Dame takes art and design.”

Sullivan also wants to give Notre Dame students a chance to “peek behind the curtain” of a business and fashion empire.

Browne will visit campus each semester, and both visits will include public-facing events.

On Oct. 25, Browne and Notre Dame alumnus Michael Hainey, former editor of GQ magazine, will sit down to discuss how fashion influences public life. 

During his spring visit, Browne will engage with a one-credit course titled “Strong Suits: The Art, Philosophy, and Business of Thom Browne,” which is co-taught by Sullivan and Michael Schreffler, associate dean for the arts and associate professor in the Department of Art, Art History and Design. 

The course will meet each Friday for six weeks, and class discussions and guest speakers will revolve around academic perspectives on the Thom Browne company. The course will culminate in lunch with Thom Browne where students are encouraged to ask the designer questions, Sullivan said. The application for the class is due on Monday, Oct. 3.

Finally, Browne will host his annual touch football game/fashion show at Notre Dame this fall.

The football game usually takes place in Central Park and is attended by models, actors, fashion editors, photographers, dancers and other artists. Every “player” wears the latest Thom Browne designs.

“It’s really meant to kind of celebrate touch football as a family activity for a lot of Americans on Thanksgiving and to celebrate the connection of his brand with this piece of Americana and American culture which he obviously came to love when he was a student at Notre Dame,” Sullivan said.

This year, 30 students can volunteer to be outfitted in Thom Browne designs and participate in the touch football game. Students can apply to be in the football “draft” before Sept. 25.

“It’s kind of a fashion show for him. It’s kind of a public art piece. It’s kind of marketing. It’s a bunch of things all at once,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said she is very excited to invite a distinguished Notre Dame alumnus back as an artist-in-residence. 

“To realize that, just in our own backyard, we have this depth of talent to pull from and engage, I think it shows that Notre Dame is the best in the world when it comes to this kind of work,” she said.

Contact Katie Muchnick at


Art, the great balancing act

This past summer, I embarked on the adventure of creating an album. While artistic work is typically idealized as the realization of an unadulterated vision, I found the creative process to be a balancing act between the impulses of the audience and the various inclinations within the artist. If art imitates life, then the creative process is a microcosm of the human balancing act of living — that endless quest for unachievable equilibrium.

The foremost lesson I gained from this process is that authenticity in self-expression is paramount. Whether in the sphere of fashion or filmmaking, poetry or producing beats, one must embrace the styles and subjects that genuinely resonate with them, as there is nothing more powerful than true passion. There are parts of us and our self-expression that are essential and not negotiable, and while it takes good effort to discern these pieces of ours, once we find them, they will be the bedrock of ourselves in society.  Starting with and loving our authentic attributes gives us pride in how we connect with others and peace when others misunderstand or dismiss us. In art, this process does not always lead to autobiography but rather something truly representative of sentiments and interests deep within the creator. Redefining stories about ourselves to be emblematic of ourselves encourages our imaginations to produce new types of stories and the imaginations of the audience members to find what these works mean to them.

The focused work on this single project also allowed me to refine my relationship with work. The two extremes of labor are laziness and perfectionism, and while the former is almost universally condemned, perfectionism is perpetually upheld despite how destructive it truly is. Nothing is perfect, and in art the best ideas usually arrive on their own in a way for which a creator can take limited credit. The idea that enough work can yield success is obviously tantalizing as a promise that all our dreams can come true, but as my dancing abilities can testify, this is not the human experience. Nothing can ever be perfect, but it can be good and finished, which means that we must set a limit with our work, especially because endless time working means neglecting relationships, which sustain and nurture us more than any labor could.  Fighting against my perfectionism meant campaigning for a project people could hear and for the space to prioritize the people around me.

Only the divine can accomplish anything alone, and in the case of this album, I needed the opinions of others to ensure my creation was the best it could be. We are not omniscient, which means we make mistakes, including in the creative process.  Art is communication, and sometimes our messages don’t work. An audience has enough distance from the creation of a work to discern whether it is successful without the positive creator’s bias, and while making this album, my best friends had the respect and love for me to let me know when a piece didn’t accomplish what I hoped it would. There were certain elements of the project, however, on which I wouldn’t compromise — those aforementioned authentic parts — and my listeners were all moved by those aspects of the work. There are times to accept criticism and times to hold true, and it is only through continuous discernment and then presentation of one’s conclusions that one strengthens that muscle of judgment.

I believe the questions art demands of its creators, the same queries we all face, are impossible to answer definitively. Reconciling personal manifestation with social constructions and the pursuit of a product’s success with the search for fulfilling relationships between oneself and others is the labor of at least more than a lifetime. But I think that keeping an open mind throughout my process has brought me closer to that unreachable answer, in the same way a mathematical function approaches but never hits its limit. I am proud of what I have learned in this field experiment of being human and am resolved to stay receptive for the next lesson I get, from wherever it may come.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Ayden Kowalski

Contact Ayden at


ND AAHD majors display “Ongoing Matter” exhibit on the Mueller Report

“Ongoing Matter: Democracy, Design and the Mueller Report” is a project created to educate and help people interact with the information presented in the “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election”, also known as the Mueller Report.

The exhibit is presented by the department of art, art history and design (AAHD) and was designed by co-creators Anne Berry and Sarah Martin. The project is on display in the AAHD Gallery in 214 Riley Hall until Sept. 29. 

The Mueller Report was published in 2019. The report documents the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election and allegations of Donald Trump’s campaign coordinating with Russia to undermine the election. 

Berry, an associate professor at Cleveland State University, said the goal of the exhibit is to make the Mueller Report more digestible for the general public.

“The objective [of the project] was to take sections of the Mueller report and make it easier to understand for a general audience through the medium that we are most familiar with, which is graphic design,” Berry said.

Another goal was for the exhibit to be collaborative. Berry said she and Martin, who is an assistant professor at the University, reached out to their design friends and had a group of designers come together to talk about the report. The group responded to the prompt by making posters, she said. 

Jessica Barness, one of the designers featured in the exhibit noted that the exhibit is a more effective form of communion.

“Through visual communication, designers can convey meaning in ways that words alone cannot,” she said in an email. “‘Ongoing Matter’ leverages the power of posters and draws upon histories of political and social issue posters.”

Another designer, Andre Murnieks remarked that he enjoyed their artists’ use of posters.

“Posters are a good medium to get a message out about something important and timely,” he said.

Berry, exhibit co-creator and an assistant professor at Cleveland State University, said the goal of the exhibit is to make the Mueller Report more digestible for the general public. Photo by Caroline Collins.

Murnieks said the biggest challenge he faced during the design process was encapsulating all of the information from the report into a few posters. Murnieks’ poster is based on a handwritten letter that was included in the Mueller Report.

“The letter is being decoded as you look at the poster,” he said.

According to Martin, the Mueller Report failed to communicate information effectively, and she hopes the art installation will help people engage with the material presented in the report in a more delightful way. 

“It’s tantalizing, it’s enticing, it’s visual, it’s the exact opposite of what the report was. The augmented reality is meant to delight a viewer, it’s meant to engage someone in a report that’s dry and dense,” Martin said. “The goal is to have people engage verbatim with the language of the report.”

Martin further explained that the report was a design failure because it was 448 pages long, 12 point Times New Roman font, contained legal jargon that would be unfamiliar to the general reader and the original report was later redacted. 

“A bad design can shape the future. It can change how people think about things and respond to things,” Martin said.

The exhibit is meant for everyone and it is a nonpartisan, grassroots design initiative aimed at encouraging people to engage with the government, Martin said. 

Berry explained that there was a public interest and media frenzy surrounding the report. She also stated the exhibit is an investigation of how information is presented and interpreted and serves as “an investigation about design and design solutions.”

“The content is political, but our approach has been an investigation of the imagery and the language of what’s buried in the report,” Berry said. “We are trying to emphasize that this is a case study about how important information is being communicated. The larger issue is how government entities communicate information.”