Colorblind Student Chasing Artistic Passion After Graduation

Szakacsi cropped CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., May 11, 2015 – Southeast Missouri State University student Brandon Szakacsi of Collinsville, Illinois, will graduate this week with a Bachelor of Art in art and will set off to pursue his life’s dream. He hopes to use his abilities to become a content artist for a video game company.

His goal is impressive as Szakacsi chases his will to do as a colorblind artist. Southeast’s spring commencement ceremony is planned for 2 p.m. May 16 in the Show Me Center.

“The challenging part about being a colorblind artist is getting the details right,” said Szakacsi.  “The primary and secondary colors aren’t usually a big deal; it’s the middle colors, or the tertiary colors, they I have trouble with often. If I need one of those colors, either I get help from someone else, or I have to make it a weird color I can actually see.”

Szakacsi’s colorblindness does not restrict him to only seeing colors as black or white. He is able to differentiate between many colors; however he has trouble with colors that commonly are made by mixing primary and secondary colors.

Szakacsi first became aware of his colorblindness in the first grade. His colorblindness is a genetic trait that is commonly found in men. Szakacsi’s grandfather is colorblind as well.

As an artist, Szakacsi notes how colorblindness does not limit him from pursuing his passion, but rather enables him to bring a different perspective to art that is uniquely him.

“One of my first painting projects in my Painting II class was of a green bottle in which we were to paint exactly as it was,” said Szakacsi. “I thought it was red, so I painted it red. Afterwards, one of my classmates told me it was green and I didn’t believe him. So, I went to the teacher and asked what color the bottle was and he confirmed it was green.”

Throughout his life, Szakacsi’s found his passion for art through many different avenues, but was afraid his colorblindness could prohibit him from achieving his dreams. His avid hobby of playing video games triggered his exploration of a career in art once he arrived at Southeast. Szakacsi then weighed his options and ultimately choose to major in art.

“I played the video game BioShock 2 often and was really intrigued by the design of the game, like I felt an emotion. I was in awe at how awesome it looked and at the fact that someone created it,” said Szakacsi. “Growing up, I’ve always sketched, but I never really started art until I came to Southeast. Through studying art, I have gained a greater appreciation for art.”

Szakacsi credits the instructors in the Department of Art for helping push him to achieve his artistic goals and being there to help him if he needed it. He also thanks his family and friends for their support.

Justin Miller, Southeast assistant professor of art, said he had Szakacsi in his Drawing I class during his first semester teaching at Southeast Missouri State University three years ago. Since then, Szakacsi also has taken other classes he has taught, including Painting, Painting II, and Drawing III.

“In every instance I found Brandon to be one of the most positive and upbeat students in my courses.  He has an infectious personality that his peers gravitate towards and livens up every classroom. He has never let his colorblindness interfere with his creative pursuits,” Miller said. “Brandon’s specific colorblindness tends to affect red/green relationships, but despite this challenge, he has created some exceptional artwork in his time at Southeast.  In some ways, Brandon’s colorblindness has forced him to work harder than many of his fellow art students, but he has never let it hinder his creativity or drive.”

Szakacsi says when he works on a project, he always tried to do it “bigger and better while pushing myself to do try new ways of completing the project. The instructors here at Southeast fed off of my enthusiasm, and I love that. I love being let go and having the freedom to complete my project the way I want to,” said Szakacsi.

While at Southeast, Szackacsi has had his work featured in galleries and showings, and some of his pieces have been purchased.

“I’ve sold two pieces now. I sold a painting entitled ‘Dr. Strange’ at the Show and Sell and Chili Cook-Off held by the Art Guild. Another portrait I made of Iron Man is being sold now to a friend of mine. ‘Dr. Strange’ was displayed in the Salon des Refusès held in the River Campus Art Gallery last year. My Zelda painting was displayed there this year,” said Szakacsi.

As he prepares to venture into his career path, Szakacsi says he holds dear to words told to him by one of Southeast’s instructors.

“My painting teacher, Justin Miller, always told me to paint what I see; don’t try to get it right, just paint what I see. So, that’s what I do. I paint what I see.”