Andrea Levy on Taking Intelligent Risks

“I realized that the more internal you go and the more you express about your life, the more people can relate.”

Andrea Levy shared this anecdote Saturday afternoon about what she has learned after more than a year designing the “Andrea Levy Opinion Art” full-page opinion column and blog for the Plain Dealer. Levy is an award-winning artist and columnist for the Plain Dealer. She was most recently recognized for her visual Oped portfolio from 2014, winning Best in Show at the SND Annual competition and garnering recognition in the commentary category at the 2014 Scripps Howard Awards.

Andrea Levy during her #SNDDC session on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Courtney Kan
Andrea Levy during her #SNDDC session on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Courtney Kan

Levy spoke of the intelligent risk taking that the Plain Dealer champions with her column and offered some tips from her career tackling sometimes challenging assignments.

  • Metaphor always works, especially when working with delicate topics.
  • As an artist, you need someone you can talk to and share things you want to explore.
  • There’s a perception if you’re creative, you don’t have to think to make it. Ideas are preceded by words. It’s more accessible and easier than you think.
  • About the pressures of working on deadline, Levy said “When you get afraid on deadline, when you realize it won’t work or you don’t have time … if you can think at that moment, I don’t care, I am going to fail. Once you feel that, the doors all just open up again.”
  • Learn what you care about, that’s a good vehicle for creativity.

Opinion Art

“There’s a difference between art and illustration. Illustration is explaining to you, it’s answering questions. Art is asking questions. I aim to use them in combination.”

Levy spent most of her time sharing her process for different Opinion Art columns. She shared her deeply personal inspiration and even her fears before taking on the project. “We care a lot about sharing our opinions with each other … The hard part is having your opinion shared publicly. I had to gain a lot of courage to do it. … I am not doing it to be controversial but to say what I think.”

Following are a few of Andrea’s award winning pieces and her thoughts on the process and what they mean.

Portrait of Michael Brown

Portrait of Michael Brown
“This featureless silhouette is the way we see a young black man, it’s as good of a portrait of a young black man as any other. But looking at it it’s not a threatening silhouette.” Levy said the piece receive a lot of controversial feedback.

Grounds for Burial

Grounds for Burial
“The premise is that Cleveland is not cursed because we’re on sacred burial ground, but we should be and should bury Chief Wahoo”

Repeat with me, marriage equality

marriage equality

“It says his husband her wife repeated over and over again. The postscript reads ‘If this controversy is about protecting the institution of marriage, where are all the organized protests against divorce?” In her accompany blog to this piece, Levy elaborated that the most important thing words can do is condition.