Jayde Campbell used to get in trouble for doodling in school, but one teacher took note of Jayde's creative drawings and offered her a job as an illustrator.
Many people can recall a classmate who turned every notebook, folder or handout from the teacher into an art project. Those serial doodlers viewed any blank space as an unfilled canvas ready to be adorned with flowers, cartoon characters, animals and geometric patterns. American authors Jack Kerouac and Mark Twain were well-known doodlers, and archivists have even found drawings on President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s meeting notes. Teachers may interpret a student’s doodling as disinterest, a lack of attention, or irreverence, but in the case of Ozarks Technical Community College student Jayde Campbell, doodling in class led to a job with one of her teachers.
“I got in a lot of trouble with a lot of teachers,” Jayde said. “One of my old teachers said I wouldn’t go anywhere if I kept doodling.”
Where one teacher saw graffiti, OTC Science Instructor Stephanie Blake had a different interpretation of Jayde’s in-class etchings.
“When I first had Jayde in a Middle College class, I noticed that she was an outstanding artist,” Stephanie said. “She was always doodling. That was how she kept track of her thoughts.”
Stephanie encouraged Jayde to become a science illustrator, but she was just in high school and did not pursue a professional art career.
“I’d heard the term starving artist, so I decided to follow in my mom’s footsteps and go into nursing,” Jayde said.
A few semesters passed, and Jayde, now a pre-nursing student, found herself back in a Stephanie Blake-taught anatomy class in the spring of 2022. To help herself memorize the muscles and bones, Jayde would create bold, colorful drawings.
“I drew things in a way that helped me process the information,” Jayde said. “So many of the illustrations in the textbook could be confusing.”
Jayde’s classmates noticed her simpler, vibrant drawings and asked Jayde for copies so they could use them to study too. Stephanie took notice, and it led to an opportunity.
In the years since Jayde had been in other classes, Stephanie’s educational content company GradeStrides had taken off. Stephanie and her collaborators produce course guidebooks with math and science activities and labs using everyday materials around the house. While the books can be used in any academic setting, they are particularly popular with online students, homeschoolers and four-day week schools. Stephanie was creating an anatomy and physiology book and needed an illustrator. Jayde’s drawings were a perfect match.
“Jayde had my anatomy class in the spring of 2022, and her pictures were just so striking,” Stephanie said. “I was looking for an illustrator to finish this anatomy and physiology book, and I thought, ‘Her stuff is super different. It’s so unique. That’s what I want.’ So, I approached her about joining forces, and away we went.”
Jayde still wants to become a nurse, but she’s using health science education and her passion for art to make a living. Something no one ever thought she would do — including Jayde. Now, Jayde is working hard to complete 35 drawings for the first edition of the anatomy and physiology book Stephanie hopes to have published this summer.
“I never thought I’d make money from drawing,” Jayde said. “This is an opportunity I never saw coming. It’s unbelievable.”