AP Graphics students revel in the rigor


Toby Atkinson

“Out Of It” by Toby Atkinson

AP Graphics is one of the many art classes available to the students of Clover Hill, and it is unique in how it allows students to take full creative liberty while making digital art using Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and other mediums. 

AP Graphics holds the title of the most rigorous Graphics course at Clover Hill, and is only available to students who have completed the prerequisite courses of Graphics 1, 2 and 3. 

AP Graphics students select one topic or idea to “investigate.” They then spend all year making a cohesive portfolio of 15 artworks that represent their artistic skills and conceptual explorations of their topic.

Jaime Barnett is currently in the process of wrapping up her ninth year of teaching Computer Art & Graphic Design at Clover Hill, which includes the instruction of the AP Graphics course. 

Throughout her years of teaching AP Graphics at Clover Hill, Barnett holds a unique passion for many aspects of the course. She especially enjoys the opportunity it gives her to witness the evolution of her students as they go from Graphics 1 all the way up to AP Graphics.

“I love teaching AP because it means that I [get] to have the pleasure of spending four years with [some of] my students,” Barnett said. “I get to watch my students grow from having no knowledge of Adobe programs, to creating a portfolio of artwork as they themselves grow throughout their high school career.”

Senior Toby Atkinson is one of the students who took Graphics throughout their entire high school career. In their freshman year, they set a goal for themself to work their way up to AP Graphics during their time at Clover Hill.

“I’ve been [taking] Graphics since [my] freshman year, and it was a goal [of mine] to get to AP, because I thought [it would be] then [that] I could finally call myself an artist,” Atkinson said. “[After] I finished [my] portfolio, I [felt] very proud to call myself a true artist.”

AP Graphics students have an opportunity to create a portfolio centered around an “investigative inquiry”, which was a topic that they were able to choose at the beginning of the year.

Senior Kayla Waters, another AP Graphics student at Clover Hill, centered their inquiry around portrayals of emotion through flowers.

“My [investigative inquiry] for Graphic Design this year was ‘How can I show emotion through form and symbolism with the language of flowers?’,” Waters said. “I [chose] this [topic] because I had actually taken two AP classes, and [decided] to use an old inquiry from my traditional art class, as I [enjoyed] drawing [the] flowers very much.”

Atkinson’s inquiry was one centered around their own experiences of paranoia and anxiety throughout their life.

“My [investigative] inquiry for [AP Graphic Design this year] was ‘Why do ghosts follow me?,” Atkinson said. “I thought of my [inquiry] as a sort of goodbye to my childhood as I [enter] the adult world after my senior year, and an [opportunity] to [tell] a story based on my journey of accepting my extreme paranoia, [portraying] my anxiety as ghosts that I have grown alongside throughout my [childhood], and who have helped me become who I am today.”

“Sunshine” by Toby Atkinson

Faced with exploring these abstract topics throughout the year, AP Graphics students met with many hardships. These included deadlines, burnout, artist’s block, or countless others. Despite this, their passion helped them to persevere through their challenging moments and to create pieces of art that they were truly proud of.

“Seeing my [favorite] pieces of art that I created be printed out at the end [of the year] was a very good feeling, [as it] helped show all of my hard work throughout the [year],” Waters said. “[One piece] that I was [particularly] proud of was “Pink Lily and White Orchid” because the line art took a lot of time [and effort], and I was very happy with how it came out.”

In addition to facing the hardships of the course together, Barnett and the AP Graphics students reap the rewards of the course together, and grow closer to each other throughout the year.

“I [loved] seeing the sense of community [within] the AP group in how they would give each other feedback, model for each other, brainstorm ideas with one another, and come up with solutions [together].”, Barnett said. “Having classmates, a teacher, and peers around to give them feedback, help make creative decisions, and celebrate the wins is what makes the AP experience so exciting and rewarding!”.

“Pink Lily and White Orchid” by Kayla Waters

The best part of the year for many AP Graphics students was how they were able to grow individually as both an artist and a person throughout their time in the class.

“[The process of this course] helped me realize how much one person can balance, as it was [a lot] of work to [make my portfolio] while still [dealing] with all of my other [responsibilities],” Atkinson said. “It taught me to take the pressure off my craft and just enjoy what I do, and in the end I [found] myself [caring less] about impressing the College Board and more about being proud of myself for what I did, and I [was left with] a very rewarding experience.”