A passionate artist, poet, writer, and storyteller, Rue Sparks was welcomed into the Maker-in-Residence program at Hamilton East Public Library’s Ignite Studio this September and will continue through December. As Maker-in-Residence, Sparks hosts open studios and teaches a variety of classes; many of which focus on the collision between the written and artistic worlds.

headshot of Rue Sparks

What brought you to the Ignite Studio at HEPL?

“Coming to the Fishers library and seeing the Ignite space and all these amazing things that are being done to help people create and make things and express themselves just really aligned with what I want to do. As someone who has been through quite a bit, I have always used art and writing and creativity to express myself in some way. Even for people who are not necessarily pursuing art as a career, there’s definitely value in creating and that type of expression.”

What is your artistic background & prior experience?

“I originally started drawing as a kid like a lot of creative people did — drawing the Lion King and animals and then eventually expanding to people and anime. Eventually, I pursued a degree in illustration and interactive design, and that’s actually how I got my first job in digital marketing. I wore so many hats in marketing between illustrator, animator, creating assets for video games, audio recording, motion graphics, video, web development, graphic design — a lot of different things. The advantage of that was I got really good at learning things. When I eventually got to a point where I couldn’t do art for a good two-year period, I already had the knowledge of how to learn, so I was able to pivot to poetry, short stories, and novels, but I still retained all the technical knowledge I had as a designer and art director. That really helped the transition to learn how to publish.”

James Ziino giving athlete a high five

What do you appreciate most about the Maker-in-Residence program?

“One of the things I really loved about Ignite and the Maker Space was that there’s so many opportunities that don’t include a paywall. I’ve had teaching experience at universities and things like that which was great, but it’s nice to be able to have opportunities to teach to people who are just dabbling and want to try different things but can’t pay hundreds of dollars to learn it. Or they know something and want to try something adjacent or simply have always wanted to learn something and have never had the time or money to do so.”

What types of art are you focusing on during your residency?

“For my residency, I’m focusing a lot on not just technical things like learning watercolor, but how to approach art — how to approach combining art and writing, how to approach publishing, and things like that. How to figure out what makes sense for you, personally. Simply having these artistic materials accessible for free is just amazing.”

How can the community of Fishers get involved with your work?

“Through the residency that I’m doing here, we have an art short story and poetry anthology we’re going to be releasing through the library. The due date is November 13. If you’re writing a short story, we just have a size restriction of 500 to 7000 words. For poetry, as long as it’s not 40 pages, you’re good. We’re having a section for kids, teens, and adults. The theme, which we are loosely applying, is “growth.” That doesn’t necessarily mean nature — it can be personal growth, growth of a place, growth of a society — and that can be positive or negative.”

Sign up for a class or view open studio dates at hepl.lib.in.us. Learn more about Sparks and view their art at ruesparks.com.

kids learning at the library