Bachelor of Fine Arts
North Branch Projects


My name is Monica "Moki" Tantoco, and I am a student in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education program. I work mostly with performance art, installations, and public art.

About My Co-op Experience

My current Co-op internship is at North Branch Projects. I am a studio bookbinding assistant to Regin Igloria, founder of North Branch. My job is to introduce visitors to the book arts, and community binding; to oversee community-binding sessions; and to market and promote events.

I currently have several projects on my list. We are preparing for a show called Core Values. We have a continuous project is the Neighborhood Archive where participants explore their own creative processes and observe the creative processes of others by helping to assemble a collection of books that will be open to the public. I am also developing and executing ideas for promoting North Branch Projects to a larger community. For example, I plan on developing ideas to connect North Branch with SAIC.

What I Learned from My Co-op Experience

I learned that there is so much more to the book arts than I initially thought. Folding paper is no joke! I learned about the various stages of making a book from creating signatures, to book covers, and finally to sewing the book together. I have been able to exercise the professional skills of event promotion and marketing strategy. And I have met many wonderful people from all walks of life: people who have just moved to Chicago and stumbled upon North Branch Projects online, students who are interested in learning about the book arts, and citizens of Albany Park who walk past North Branch daily.

I learned more about my own creative process by observing and interacting with others. Knowing how make a book is a versatile and useful skill. I now have new ways of presenting my portfolio and myself professionally, but creatively. Most importantly I have been able to work with a community.

Working at North Branch Projects has introduced me to a hands-on experience with interacting with a community that does not have many public art resources. It has completely changed my views on the white-cube aesthetic and the impenetrableness of the fine arts community. I want to keep working in communities and with people, making art available to anyone who does not have the resources to create.

My advice to future Co-op students is to be open to collaborating and sharing ideas with others—to allow themselves to be integrated into different communities and be involved with different types of people out of the art scene in order to have real life experiences.

About the Employer

North Branch Projects is an independently run project space that serves as a community bookbinding facility in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood. By using the book arts to expand the creative reach of individuals, the space provides an outlet for exploring the creative process in a neighborhood where few resources for the arts exist.

About SAIC Co-op Internship Conversations

School of the Art Institute (SAIC) students share their co-op internship experience and what valuable insights they learned along the way.


Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.