Katelyn Liao Designs English Department Tee Shirts

Gia Shin, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Katelyn Liao’s significant contribution to the English department all began with honey orange castella cake.

At the end of last school year, Liao baked a small castella for each of her junior year teachers. She wrapped them in paper packaging and put them in boxes with cartoon portraits of her teachers taped onto them. One of the recipients of this treat, Mr. Whitehead, later requested her to draw the members of the English department as cartoons for a T-shirt.

“I was just looking at the pictures and I tried to draw what I saw,” Liao said. “Some teachers had more distinct features than others and it was really fun trying to capture that.” She described the process as “taking characteristics of the teachers and trying to put it on paper.” 

Liao’s cartoon portraits of the THS English department.

“I think they are accurate,” Mr. Finn, one of the cartoon-ified teachers, said. “I’m impressed with how Katelyn is able to capture our different personalities with such few elements. They’re simple drawings but they’re expressive.”

Yet, cartoons are not Liao’s only forte. One of her most memorable pieces is one that depicts Liao standing amongst her sixth grade classmates, part of a series of other pieces illustrating her fond memories made in Taiwan.

Liao started taking her art seriously in 8th grade. Now, as she is sending off art portfolios to colleges, Liao is considering various careers. In particular, she hopes to enter the animation industry: “I want to be a visual developer, which is part of the steps before the actual animation where you explore and present the theme and overall look of the characters and the environment,” she said. Moreover, Liao watches more animations than live-action films. “I was looking through some artbooks because a lot of Pixar movies and Disney movies have artbooks showing the process of where they got to the animation itself, and I thought those were really cool.”

Katelyn Liao (’23), the designer behind the T-shirts.

In terms of portrait accuracy, Liao felt that a few teachers looked more like their real selves than others. “I think Mr. Oppedisano looks the most like him. Ms. Hampson looks like her too,” she said. “A few of them look more like [themselves] than others, and it’s because I’ve had them as a teacher. When you actually meet and get to know the teacher and see them more often, you kind of notice: Oh yeah, this person has this face shape or this is how they smile.”

Mr. Finn echoed this sentiment: “I think Mr. Oppedisano’s is really good. He’s all dressed up.”

Liao’s cartoon portraits are displayed on the English department door, Room 212. The English department tees will be printed soon, so look out for them on a future Friday!