Tag Archives: Spotlight

Spotlight Series: Danel Roldan

During the  “Love in Translation” conference, the organizers received a lot of feedback on the wonderful poster design. So the conference co-chairs and blog editors, Rudrani Gangopadhyay and Penny Yeung decided to interview the artist behind the poster, Danel Roldan.

Editors: What was the process of coming up with this like? How long did it take you to kind of do it from start to finish would you say?

Danel: I was actually working on those over the winter break in DR. I was initially going with a really modern style. [Maria] Elizabeth hated it because it was mainly looking like a parody of the ‘I Love New York’ stuff. I was thinking of a juxtaposition of what love is. It encompasses every emotion … so I started thinking of love in translation and I was thinking of what is that because love is translated by everyone individually into so many things. As you are growing in relationships, love brings out different facets. What does it mean to put that onto literature or any creative process? Once I arrived onto the [image of the] ink and the pen as the instrument of translation, I sort of got it all.

Someone once asked me what I like about the process, and I said I hate the process. You spend half the time belittling yourself, then you arrive at that one moment of I’m a genius. You hate the process and then you love the process. I came to the ink and the pen, then the heart. That was main thing. And all the circles, which is like  doodling, like somebody trying to come up with something. That’s what any creative process is like, till you see the semblance of something. The poster is trying to translate that process – there’s this pen dripping ink, and then there’s a heart, but also there’s a scar in the heart. Creation is passion, and any time you are trying to create something, you’re going to suffer for that. That’s what I tried to put in the poster. It is the juxtaposition of love and passion and suffering, because you are suffering to create, suffering for what you’re passionate about.

Then there was the 100 languages in which the word love and the phrase ‘I love you’ shows up. Part of me did not want to put in the languages within brackets, but I did so people would know what language it is?

Editors: We were also wondering about some of the other ideas that you considered before you arrived at this one.

Danel: Something that I was thinking about was the work of Jackson Pollock. Basically a lot of ink splatters, but a resemblance of something, like it is a little translated. That idea that you start off with a sketch but there’s a slow morphing. When I draw something I have no clue how,  I just start to doodle. So the Jackson Pollock thing was about trying to capture the translation mid-process. These splatters could have also been link symbols of love.

Another idea I had was that of a rose, but in a type collage. The 100 languages in different tones of red, but when I started doing it it was taking way too long. It looked so great but it would take weeks.

Editors: You talked about hating the process, or having this love-hate relationship with it but now that you are done, would you be able to retrace the process of this final design.

Danel: First I tried it with actual ink. I was fighting with the practical side and then the artistic side. Again, it was just the time thing, and I can’t do it, so it was just then digitizing it, but also going towards like ideas, like sketchbook, just going with the pencil and just trying to translate a heart in different ways. So first I tried the whole heart was in ink, was mainly like a shadow of ink … it was getting forth that idea of sketching things out. I was trying to bridge the idea of accidental creativity and actual purposeful creativity so if I had use the ink splatter heart it would have been more like “oh, serendipity!  like oh, it just happened,” as opposed to you like admitting I’m toiling, I’m part of this, I’m trying to do this. I was trying to doodle with pen and paper, pencil and paper that way.

Another idea was that of an inkwell that tipped over and made a spill that looks like a heart which was what I was going to do if we did tote bags or bookmarks. If there was another part of the campaign it would have resembled that.

Editors: You do a fantastic job of translating the ideas we had on paper. Was there anything different in creating this poster design for a bunch of academics than the work you have done before? Big differences in designing for different target audiences?

Danel: So I forget the details of other poster which I had made for some professors. It was about slavery and in the civil rights movement. The slaves were free, but they were still enslaved because mentally they were like, what is freedom? We fought so hard for it yet we don’t know what it is; what would you do with freedom? You’re free but you still depend on this kind of thing you know? And some slaves thought that I am here by choice and I could always leave. I interpreted it as slavery of the brain, and the professors didn’t really like the idea. The word itself was made out of “IBM,” and it is sort of like a pictogram, a translation of a word, so that’s what I did, and they were like I don’t think people would get it. Well, they would if they read into things and translated them. If you won’t, then it’s not for you. This is not for a casual audience, you’re going to have to work with this thing, which I thought an academic audience would.

The professor wanted something more literal. After a few months,  I was like, aw man, why didn’t I see it? It was just as simple as putting in a bird cage: just the outline of a bird cage, a bird on the inside, and the birdcage actually open, which brings forth the message, with the word at the bottom. The bird is free but not, because of the bird cage. It’s different [to work with academics] because if you’re an educational institution, then I would imagine your whole purpose is to challenge people’s minds with the material and in your marketing you sometimes don’t. To me, if an educational institution is not doing that it is a little strange.

Editors: So you’re saying in this case, your art didn’t quite translate the way you thought it would. 

Danel: The projects are like my kids and my kids can go anywhere. It’s like what you instill in your students  speak to what kind of teacher are you. This is a challenge definitely … but that’s the system of education. I’ve also worked on some book covers for Pearson, and it was along the lines like that. It wasn’t subtle covers: it was about civil rights movement and it was a very political “poster-y” poster. It was three books, one on the government, one on signs, one on a different subject  and they all had to be unified so I was like this is cool. So when I pitched the idea, I was thinking it would be a phenomenal idea, it’s going to allude to the subject matter and be symbolic. The guy that I worked with said this is phenomenal, but then there were different editors, and one was like “what is this? No, no, it’s too artsy, too symbolic.” Again, it’s the same argument … but you’re an educational institute, and students will go where they go.

Editors: Anything else you would like to say to the readers of the Comp Lit blog? 

Danel: I hope that people dig the poster and Love in Translation is a success.


The Love in Translation  conference organizers would  like to thank Danel Roldan for his wonderful poster design and Maria Elizabeth Rodriguez Beltran for assisting in the creative direction.

Spotlight Series: Fatimah Lakisha Fischer

As a way of learning a little more about faculty and staff members associated and/or connected to Rutgers and our program in Comparative Literature, we have created a “spotlight series” where we interview one of these members, and highlight some of their educational background and personal accomplishments through a post.


Last March, we welcomed Fatimah Lakisha Fischer, the new Comparative Literature Program Coordinator. In addition to earning a BA in Communication with a minor in Journalism, and her Masters in Organizational Change in Business Management, from College of Saint Elizabeth (CSE), Fatimah’s work has been enriched by her BA’s concentration choice in Technology and Advertising. Through her major and concentration, she learned how to use different types of editing software, such as News editing software and other editing techniques used in advertisement and journalism.

Before coming to Rutgers, Fatimah worked as an Administrative Assistant in the Educational Opportunity Fund Program (EOF) at College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown. During her 13 year tenure in EOF, Fatimah worked as a building marshal, played a key role in the mission and values committee for the college, assisted in their budget committee, and also used her journalist skills to work as one of the editors, reporter, and writer for the college newspaperThe Station,” where she wrote a minimum of three articles a month. While doing all of this, Fatimah also hosted and produced her own talk show, “Table Talk with Tina,” where she invited different guests to talk about current events in the world of music and entertainment for about 30 minutes. This show was transmitted from 2005 until 2008, as a public access show through Cablevision.

Her passion for news reporting goes hand in hand with her passion for music, which have led Fatimah to not only work as a staff reporter for the sports publication “Eagle’s Nest,” and write her own entertainment news blog, but also work as an intern for the WBGO Jazz radio station, where she continues to volunteer to this day.

Fatimah’s love for music and beautiful voice did not only encouraged her to pursue and earn a certification as a recording engineer, as well as obtaining a (currently valid!) FCC RP/DJ’s license, but also earned her a place as the singer for the US national anthem at the Newark Bears stadium, and for the Somerset patriots at TD bank ballpark in 2013. Thankful for these opportunities, she says that her dream as a singer is to someday sing the national anthem at Madison Square Garden, for which she will use her experiences of working as the choir director at her local church for 15 years.

Now at Rutgers she says, “I feel excited experiencing so much diversity among the student body and faculty in Comparative Literature and across the university”. She adds, “I love working with students from different cultural backgrounds. [to give a small example] The other day I was so curious to see that they use military time on their phones.” Fatimah sees many opportunities to continue to grow and learn at Rutgers. She plans to obtain her Doctorate in Education (EdD) at Rutgers in a near future, for she desires to “never stop learning.”  Fatimah looks forward to having a “long extended career at Rutgers”, and to further her education, for as she acknowledges “there is empowerment throgh education!” Fatimah, Welcome to our Comp. Lit. team!