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The artist behind the counter: Art store clerk freelances his talents

February 22, 2018
<p>Casey Sorrow poses for a portrait on Feb. 18, 2018 at Kresge Art Center</p>

Casey Sorrow poses for a portrait on Feb. 18, 2018 at Kresge Art Center

Inside the Kresge Art Center on MSU’s campus resides the art store, where students come and go to purchase equipment for their classes or projects. However, some students might be unaware of the artist behind the counter, ringing them up. 

Casey Sorrow, an MSU alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in studio art, started working at the art store as an undergraduate student and soon took over management of the store after he graduated in 1999. 

Sorrow initially came to MSU with an English major and a minor in film studies, however, he graduated with a degree in art. 

“My main focus was painting, but I also delved pretty strongly into printmaking,” Sorrow said. 

Sorrow’s work now doesn’t stray far from his undergraduate years. He still focuses on printmaking and illustration and does freelancing focused on illustration. 

“I have illustrated children’s books, most recently I have done illustrations for the New York Times,” Sorrow said. “I have always illustrated, I’ve been a cartoonist my whole life. ... Since I was a kid, I’ve always done art.”

Peter Shutt, a studio art senior who has worked with Sorrow for the last three years, has seen a variety of Sorrow’s work throughout his employment at the art store. 

“Casey and I are actually really great friends now. Even just outside of the art store we love to talk about comics and cartoons or just art in general,” Shutt said. 

Shutt said Sorrow’s style is unlike his own. Images of illustrations on his website show a variety of animals, people and other things in unique style. Some of his art designs are on craft beer labels, like Uncle John’s Cider.

“He draws mostly creatures and monsters ... he is more into that kind of grotesque stuff, while I’m more into charming, simple cartoon stuff,” Shutt said.  

Shutt said Sorrow has taught him a great deal about printmaking and drawing, along the lines of what materials to use and what to avoid. 

Jill McKillips, instructor for the Department of Art, Art History and Design, has worked with Sorrow on and off since 1996. 

“We’re also very good friends,” McKillips said. “I have learned how you can render 3-D looking block prints using red and blue ink and 3-D glasses, which I, being a printmaker myself, was not aware of, so that was pretty exciting.” 

Shutt said he feels Kresge Art Center should display more of Sorrow’s art.

“He is an important part of Kresge,” Shutt said. “He graduated with a BFA from MSU and he has worked in the art store for, I don’t even know how long, but almost everyone knows him here. It would be cool to see some of his art hanging out in the hallways.”  

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