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That's a Wrap!

Hello everyone!

I have officially finished my fourth year of college (my third year at the U of M) and am looking forward to finishing up my degree next fall.

Since finishing finals last week, I have been working hard on moving out of my house to go back to my parents house in Golden Valley. I have about one more week before I'm off to New York for the rest of the summer.

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Although I am not spending my summer in the Twin Cities this year, Minneapolis summers are my absolute favorite. Here are a few of my favorite summertime activities in Minnesota:

-- Minnesota Twins games (I've already been to two this season!)
-- Going to the beach and rollerblading around Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun
-- Getting ice cream at Sebastian Joe's
-- Attending the Stone Arch Bridge Festival
-- Going to local farmer's markets
-- Enjoying sunshine, friends, and french fries along the Mississippi River on Tugg's Tavern's deck

Have a fantastic summer, everyone!

Graphic Design

I'm a Published Author!

Hello everyone!

Since finals are upon us, I thought I would share a little bit about the final projects I've been working on.

My final project for photography was left fairly open-ended, so I decided to combine my love of typography and photography by photographing typography I've made out of various objects.



By the time I'm done, I should have 20 of these!

My surface design/screen printing final project was also left up to us, so I decided to create a set of personal stationary that I can use during my job search once I graduate. By the time I'm done, I will have made business cards, thank you notes, envelopes, letterhead and even a pencil case I sewed out of fabric I printed on.

Finally, and perhaps the most exciting final project of the semester is for my thesis class. I have written papers about my thesis topic throughout the semester, and for the final project, we turned the papers into a book that we designed and self-published. I got the hard copy in the mail this week, and I have to say, I'm really proud of the final product.




My final project is about the Minnesotan Identity, and I proposed a rebrand of our state and its image. While writing, I was inspired by a discussion at the Walker Art Center last November.

I still have a bit of work to do, but I'm so close to being done!

Until next time,

Graphic Design

Welcome to New York!

New York.jpg

Hello everyone!

As promised in my Instagram post this week, I have some very exciting news to share. I've officially accepted an internship with Martha Stewart in New York this summer! I will be the design intern for Martha's American Made program, and I could not be more thrilled.

This was honestly my dream internship, and I'm still a little in awe of being accepted. It just goes to show that dreaming big can really pay off--it did for me! I've learned that even if something seems out of reach, you should go for it anyways, because you never know what could happen.

I have about 5-6 weeks to move out to New York and while that idea seems a little daunting right now, I know everything will work out.

Bring it on New York!

Until next time,

Graphic Design


Hello everyone!

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This past weekend I attended the American Institute of Graphic Arts' (AIGA) Portfolio 1-on-1 event and it was absolutely phenomenal! I am so happy I decided to sign up for it.

Portfolio 1-on-1 is an annual conference for junior and senior graphic design students. At the event, students get the chance to work with professionals in the design field to make connections and receive feedback on their portfolios. During the weekend, attendees have the opportunity to join three studio tours around downtown Minneapolis, as well as attend various workshops and panel discussions.

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On Friday, my group visited Cue, Little, and Olson. I absolutely loved all three and gained wonderful insight from our tour guides.

On Saturday, I began the day by attending a workshop with Heather Olson on how to leverage social media in your job search, which I found to be very helpful. I then attended three review sessions with various design professionals and received some really fantastic advice that I can't wait to utilize.

This weekend was definitely a reality check for me, but now I know what steps I need to take to get to where I need to be. I highly recommend this event to everyone!

Until next time,

Graphic Design

Spring Break!

Hello everyone,

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I am sitting in Tampa, Florida, as I am writing this!

As mentioned in a previous post, I spent my freshman year of college at the University of Tampa, so I am back here visiting friends this week. So far, I've been able to relax and lie out by the pool, watch a Spring Training game for the Yankees, and spend a night at the beach watching the sunset. It's been a really fabulous trip so far and I'm not sure if I'm ready for break to be over just yet.

That said, spring break marks the halfway point of the semester and warmer weather is on its way, so I have that to look forward to!

While I've spent each of my spring breaks in Tampa, several student groups at the University of Minnesota have alternative break options such as Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF) and Habitat for Humanity. Both of these groups work on service projects around the country throughout the week. This year STLF traveled to Washington D.C., Denver, and Atlanta, while Habitat for Humanity went to Beaumont, Texas; Medford, Oregon; and Sacramento, California. I've never been on one of these trips, but I always think they sound like a lot of fun! If you're interested, check them out here and here.

Until next time!

Graphic Design


Hello Everyone!

Lately, I've been feeling stressed with my internship search and approaching midterms, so I thought this would be a good time to talk about all the resources the University of Minnesota has to help students deal with stress!

11050293_10152727551787444_4535700670699278554_n.jpgThe University recognizes that stress is part of the college experience, so it has created several programs for students to help them better manage their stress.

- P.A.W.S (Pet Away Worry & Stress): Weekly sessions with therapy animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, and Woodstock the chicken.

- Student Academic Success Services: Several materials and services are offered to help students develop study and time management skills. It also provides techniques for relaxation and tips on how to cope with stress.

- Comfort Zone Classes: FREE weekly yoga, Pilates, and tai chi classes that are offered through Boynton Health Service.

- Stress Management Classes: Success Over Stress, a one-credit course within the School of Public Health.

- Events: Exam Jam & Cirque Du Stress are held during midterms and finals.

Whenever things feel overwhelming, just know that the University is here to support you!

Until next time,

Graphic Design

Photographer/Artist Spotlight

Hello everyone!

For one of my design electives this semester, I am taking GDes 2361 Design Process: Photography. This is actually the second photography class I've taken at the U of M and I'm having a blast! For today's class, we were assigned to present about a photographer of our choice. Upon doing some research, I came across this absolutely incredible photographer/artist, JR. I was so intrigued, inspired, and am still completely in awe with him, that I wanted to share his work with you all!

Starting as a graffiti artist at age 15 and beginning his photographing career at 17, JR is a contemporary French artist and photographer born in 1983 who photographs portraits of people around the world. He then photocopies these portraits and pastes them all over different cities.

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Through his photography and exhibitions, JR's goal is to create dialogues and discussions among those experiencing various conflicts. He wants to create a new dynamic in these countries and hopes that his work will change societies' world views.

In my opinion, his work is incredibly beautiful and moving, but don't take my word for it, check out his website!

He also has an absolutely phenomenal TED Talk that is a must-see as well.

Until next time,

Graphic Design

The search is on...

Hello Everyone!

One of the requirements of the graphic design program here at the U of M is completing an internship before we graduate. So now that my portfolio has been updated, my resume has been critiqued, and my cover letters have been written, it's time for me to start applying for summer internships!

In looking for internships, I'm mainly using four resources: GoldPass,, LinkedIn, and good old-fashioned networking.

GoldPass is the University of Minnesota's very own job-listing site created exclusively for students and alumni--yet another perk of going to school here!


Both LinkedIn and allow you to create a profile and then have both the option of matching you with potential internships and employers and also allowing you to search for companies.

Finally, I've been trying to use my network of friends, family, classmates, and professors to see where they may have interned or worked in the past, or what connections they may have. As it's always said, "It's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you know."

It's a long process, but it will be so worth it in the end. Internships are such valuable experiences, and I can't wait to start mine no matter where I end up!

Until next time,

Graphic Design

Portfolio Progress

Hello Everyone!

Classes have officially started again, but as winter break wrapped up, I was able to check off a major goal on my to-do list for the break. I FINALLY finished updating and polishing my online portfolio!

When creating my online portfolio, I actually used two different websites. My main site can be found on Weebly and my secondary site is on Behance.

While it is definitely not necessary to have two websites, they serve different purposes for me. My Weebly portfolio is designed like a webpage and allows a lot more freedom to make it my own, as well as to integrate personal branding that you would find on my resume, cover letters, and other application materials.

My Behance site on the other hand is designed more as a collection of my work. The advantages of this website is that I can see how many people are viewing each of my projects, and it allows users to "appreciate" projects as well. Finally, having a Behance allows me to connect it to the Behance app I have on my iPad so that I can also have a digital portfolio to bring into interviews.


Some other sites I've heard designers are using include Squarespace and Cargo Collective, but I do personally recommend either Behance or Weebly! Both are free and very easy to use.

Until next time,

Graphic Design

The Wonderful World of TED

Hello Everyone!

With the lack of homework during winter break combined with the recent colder temperatures, I've spent a lot of time watching Netflix. I have also been doing something slightly more academic - watching several TED talks.

Before I started college, I hadn't been introduced to the world of TED and had no idea what I was missing. TED talks are fantastic! New talks are posted weekly and TED's home page proudly boasts more than 1,900 talks available on any topic you could ever dream up. Plus, they're all completely FREE.

TED talks

So to get you started, here is a list of five of my favorite TED talks from a few of my favorite designers:

1. Paula Scher -- Great design is serious, not solemn
2. Chip Kidd -- Designing books is no laughing matter. Ok it is.
3. David Carson -- Design and discovery
4. Tim Brown -- Tales of creativity and play
5. Milton Glaser -- Using design to make ideas new

Finally, here is a link to my all-time favorite TED talk. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's The danger of a single story is fabulous! While it's not directly about design, its message is important to remember simply as human beings, and can (and should) be taken into account upon designing as well.

Graphic Design

Minneapolis: A love affair

Hello Everyone!

Every year, the holidays remind me of why I love Minneapolis so much. In fact, one of the reasons I chose to transfer to the U of M was because of the city. I didn't always love Minneapolis, but it took leaving to make me realize how really great our city and state truly are!

Minneapolis has been ranked the Healthiest City in America by Forbes, the Best Place for Millenials, the 2nd Happiest State in America, and Friendliest City in America, just to name a few. If you want to read further about what else Minneapolis excels in, click here!

Minneapolis Market

Another reason I love Minneapolis is simply the amount of things there are to do here! A few of my favorites include going to farmer's markets, hanging out at Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet, ice skating at the Depot, and going to all the various festivals held throughout the year.

To find out more about what Minneapolis has to offer, Meet Minneapolis has compiled a list of 150+ things to do in Minneapolis.

If you're still not convinced, check out these videos Greater MSP and Meet Minneapolis have put together:

Welcome to Greater MSP

Minneapolis -- By the Seasons

And for those of you who are apprehensive of our winters, make sure you check out this one!

GMSP -- We Embrace Winter

I hope you all will fall in love with Minneapolis and Minnesota just as I have.

Until next time!

Graphic Design

A Little Inspiration for Finals Week

Hello Everyone!

As finals are upon us, it can sometimes be challenging to stay focused and motivated all the way through to the end. Therefore, today I want to talk about inspiration and where I (and you!) can find it.

Oftentimes, before I start a project, if I get stuck, or just need a study break, I like to search through the graphic design tags on Tumblr and Pinterest. I keep both a design inspiration blog on Tumblr and a Design board on Pinterest so I can go back and look at the pieces I have re-posted or pinned whenever I need to.


If you don't do so already, I highly recommend it! If you don't know where to start, Creative Bloq put together this list of The 90 Best Tumblr Blogs for Designers.

A few other great websites to check in with, include:

-- The Dieline
-- Creative Bloq
-- Packaging of the World
-- Lovely Package
-- The Design Blog

What's great about these sites is that they all have Twitter profiles and Facebook pages, as well. If you follow them on those platforms, reviewing their content can fit into your regular social media check (I know you all do it already) and you won't have to always be checking in with their site.

Until next time,

Graphic Design

Dirty Laundry

Hello Everyone!
dirty laundry
I know I've written about a lot of events lately, but there have just been so many to attend! Last night I went to another event hosted by the Design Student and Alumni Board. Dirty Laundry hosted Ben VandenWymelenberg from Woodchuck USA and Colleen Carey of the Cornerstone Group.

Now incredibly successful, Ben and Colleen discussed some of their "bumps, hurdles, and crashes along the way," of which both agreed there were too many to count. Colleen even went as far as to say she probably had one bad idea every day in her 30 years of business! That being said, they both also spoke about the importance of making mistakes.

The big takeaway from Ben's anecdotes was that problems and challenges are opportunities. Colleen agreed that mistakes prove to be significant learning experiences. When you view mistakes less as failures and more as opportunities, you can move past them faster and provide opportunities for growth and improvement. You will fail sometimes, but that's okay.

Finally, during a night in which business and design horror stories were being traded, Colleen added that though failures and mistakes are both constant and inevitable, you still need to be an optimist to succeed. If you focus on the negative, you will never do anything, so here's to looking at that glass half full!

Until next time,

Graphic Design

Caution: Graphic Content Ahead

Hello Everyone!

Last night I attended the Caution: Graphic Content Ahead event put on by the Design Student and Alumni Board (DSAB) and it was phenomenal!


The DSAB brought in a panel of younger designers to talk about their experiences when transitioning from college to career. With this being a source of one my biggest anxieties (along with a lot of other Juniors/Seniors), it was fantastic to hear each of their stories.

The panel was made up of:

Stacia Burtis, Designer at Zeus Jones
U of M '13 -- Graphic Design

Laura Anderson, Designer at Persicope
U of M '10 -- Graphic Design

Ashley Hohnstein, Associate Art Director/Designer at Target
UW-Stout '13 -- Graphic Design

Rett Martin, Digital Associate Creative Director at Target
U of M '04 -- Graphic Design

Drew Covi, UIX Design & Developer at Honeywell
U of M -- Graphic Design

Paul Derby, UX Designer, Honeywell
Texas Tech -- Psychology

A few pieces of advice I found particularly helpful were:

-- Connect with people on social media, especially Twitter. Follow agencies you're interested in and make sure the link to your website/portfolio is in your bio.

-- Informational interviews and networking are everything. Attend and volunteer at American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) events. Be a face people start recognizing.

-- Invest time in personal projects, startups, freelance, etc. It can fill out a portfolio, it's something that will set you apart from other designers, and it shows you have initiative.

-- Finally, don't stress about finding the perfect job. Find a job you think you could enjoy (for at least a year), try something new, connect with people, and learn a lot.

Until next time,

Graphic Design

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Hello Everyone!

It's the most wonderful time of the year...Registration! Most people cringe when they have to start thinking about registering for classes because it definitely can be a stressful experience. However, I for one am excited. In two weeks, I will be registering for my last ever spring semester! It's so crazy to think about how far I have come since I started at the U of M 2.5 years ago. I've grown so much, as both a designer and a person, and I'm so excited to see what these last two semesters will bring.

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I am also excited because my credit load for my last two semesters will be significantly lighter as well. I only need to take 14 credits next semester and 6 credits next fall to complete my degree. This means I now have a lot of options. I can either choose to go part-time my last semester and save some money by paying per credit, or I can go full-time and take a few fun classes that I'm interested in. I'm not sure which I option I'm going to choose yet, but I've been looking into a few interesting classes such as Yoga, Floral Design, Wines and Vines, and Snowboarding. Check out the Class Search function on OneStop and search by subject or go to the Course Guide to see if anything looks interesting to you!

Until next time,

Graphic Design

"Is there a Comic Sans Japanese Typeface?"

Hello Everyone!
Tokyo TDC
This last Wednesday night, I attended an incredible event put on by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and the Concordia University-St. Paul Leaders of Design Series: The Tokyo Type Director's Club Exhibition. This is just one more reason I'm so glad I picked the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to complete my design education. There are constantly events like this all over Minneapolis and St. Paul!

The event began with Ryan Hageman lecturing about the History of Japanese Graphic Design and typography, which provided great groundwork for the second presenter, Jon Forss. Jon Forss was invited to be a juror at the 2014 Tokyo TDC Design Competition and he shared his experience and perspective on that in his presentation.

Additionally, as a designer himself, Mr. Forss' work tends to revolve around experimental typography, and he is always challenging legibility. This was great timing for me, as I was able to gain some inspiration from his work to include in an Advanced Typography project I am currently working on and have been hitting a bit of a roadblock with.

The Tokyo Type Directors Club Exhibition runs from October 13-31, 2014, in St. Paul so if you're around and have the time, I would highly recommend checking it out!

Until next time,

Graphic Design

Busy busy busy


Hello everyone!

It's been a while since my last post and even though we're only about five weeks into the school year, I've already been crazy busy.

This is most likely due to the fact that I am taking five design classes this semester: History of Graphic Design, Identity & Symbols, Packaging & Display, Advanced Typography, and Creativity, Idea Generation & Innovation. And, on top of classes, I've also joined two student groups here at the U of M this semester -- AIGA@UMN and NSAC (or the National Student Advertising Competition).

So basically, I live, eat, and breathe design. But I LOVE it.

Both of these are fantastic opportunities for enhancing your resume, design skills, and overall knowledge of design and how it plays out in the workplace. They're also both a lot of fun and a great way to meet new friends! The picture to the right is from the first AIGA meeting where people were playing Pantones Against Humanity (it's basically Cards Against Humanity, only design themed).

You can read more about the two student groups here and here.

Regardless, the U of M has 800+ student groups, so I promise if there's something you're interested in, there's a group for that. If not, you can create your own student group as well! Getting involved in activities and groups on campus is a fantastic way to meet people and really make the most out of your college experience.

Until next time!

Graphic Design

College: Round 4

Hello everyone!

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My name is Leah, and I'm a senior graphic design student in the College of Design.

I never thought I would end up at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and I never could've imagined how much I would fall in love with this school, but let's back up a bit.

I lived in a suburb of Minneapolis my entire life and couldn't WAIT to get out of Minnesota after high school. I decided to start my college adventure all the way down at the University of Tampa. However, I quickly learned that not all programs are created equal (and how much I really loved Minnesota), so I decided to come back home and applied to the U of M as a new Transfer Student.

Fast-forward a few months and I was accepted to the College of Design as a Pre-Graphic Design major. I could not be any happier with where I ended up. I could go on forever about why I love the U of M and College of Design, but I'll save that for another post. In the mean time, keep checking back here to find out what I'm up to this year, and I hope that through my experiences you too can fall in love with the U of M!

Graphic Design

Wild Internship!

With a few weeks of summer under my belt, I'm comfortably settled into my role as Graphic Design Intern at the Minnesota Zoo! I spent the first week learning the ropes of the zoo and working on a few smaller design projects for various exhibits. More recently, I had the opportunity to create several large pieces for the Butterfly Garden, which will be opening for the season next weekend! It's really exciting to see my designs around the zoo, and to see children and their families actually interacting with them. One of my recent projects (shown below) is a digital display for the zoo's butterfly conservation campaign, which is located at the entrance to the zoo right in front of the cashiers' desks.

The other interns and I are encouraged to walk around to the different exhibits, and we've gotten special tours of behind the scenes areas where they keep the animals when they're not on display. In the future, my boss even plans to arrange an event for us where we can interact with some of the animals up close! So far it's been an amazing experience, and I can't wait for the rest of the summer!

This will likely be my last post of the season, and I'm not yet sure if I will be returning in the fall. If that's the case, I'd like to thank you all for reading and wish you a wonderful summer!

Graphic Design


Portfolio Polishing

Now that the semester is over, I've finally had some time to fix up my portfolio and make it look a bit more professional. I just added the photos from my last surface design project, which you can take a look at here. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, especially considering that they were taken on a coffee table in my living room using a bed sheet and a work lamp for some makeshift lighting.

For the projects that didn't include a printed component (or that I just didn't feel like photographing) I've began to create photoshop mockups that give the designs a bit more context. Mockups are great tools for graphic designers and allow clients to preview what a design will actually look like in its finished state. There are tons of mockup templates available online that you can download for free and use for your own projects. They're super easy to customize and only take a couple minutes to complete. Below I've included before and after images of a basic poster mockup that I recently added to my portfolio. If you'd like to learn a bit more about how to create your own, you can take a look at this online tutorial!

Graphic Design


Looking Forward

With final projects and exams all wrapped up, I'm excited to say that I've officially completed my sophomore year of college! The year flew by so fast, it's hard to believe it's already over. Over the past few months I've met some amazing people, grown even closer with my friends here at the U, and developed so much as a designer.

Although I'm a bit sad to see this semester go, I'm really looking forward to my summer at the zoo and have already started planning for next fall. I'm really excited for my upcoming classes and am happy to announce that I've accepted a fall position as Head Designer at The Wake Student Magazine.


For those of you who aren't familiar with The Wake, it's a bi-weekly, student-operated magazine that covers events going on around the University of Minnesota. All the reporting, writing, editing, and artwork for the magazine are done by students, and anyone who's interested can sign up to write, regardless of their previous journalism experience (or lack thereof).

As head designer, I'll be responsible for the overall look of the publication. We're planning to give the current design a major update, and I already have some ideas bouncing around in my head! If you'd like to get involved with The Wake, or just want to check out their latest issue, you can see their website here or at the link posted above.

Graphic Design

Surviving Finals

With finals just around the corner, my stress level is steadily climbing towards its peak. I not only have three huge final exams coming up, but also my final Surface Design project to complete. During such a difficult time, everyone can use a helping hand, which is why I'd like to devote this entry to one of my favorite study tools -

This website is a great resource for both college and high school students, and has helped me cram for (and pass) more finals than I care to admit. It allows users to create separate flashcard decks for each of their courses, and keeps track of them in an online account, or "digital backpack." You can also share cards that other students have created for the same class, which is a huge time saver. The site keeps track of your flashcard results, marking each one that you got right or wrong. Over time it generates a chart to show your progress, identifying which cards should be studied more.

In addition to its functional benefits, the site has a great user interface and overall look. As a graphic student, I can't help but appreciate such good design! I've included some images of it below, but I would definitely recommend visiting the site for yourself. Hopefully you find it as helpful as I have!

Graphic Design


Fake Business = Fun Design

In my last post I mentioned that my final project for Surface Design is a visual identity system based on the color and texture of ice dyed fabric. Now that the dyeing process is complete, I've spent the last week refining the complete concept for the business that it will represent. I've decided to create an identity for a fictitious fabric store called LOOM that specializes in hand-woven and dyed fabrics, featuring regular collections by local textile artists. I know that it's a pretty specific niche business and that it might not be successful in the real world, but that's the beauty of designing for a fake business - it doesn't have to be plausible. It just has to look good.

Below I've included a mock-up of a few business cards, which I'm currently working on screen printing as a color separation (hence the bitmap format):


I'm pretty happy with the look of the cards so far and plan to develop the rest of the visual identity system around them. I've decided to include a letter template, envelopes, paper bags, and a series of product labels. I'll only be screen printing a few of the components to fulfill the project requirements, and the rest will be digitally printed to save a bit of time. I can't wait to share the final product with you!

Graphic Design

"Cool" Final Project

With only two weeks of class left, final projects and presentations are kicking into high gear. One of the biggest tasks I have yet to complete is a two-part final project for my surface design class. It's an extremely open ended assignment; the only requirements are that it include an "experimental" component (i.e. something you've never tried before) and a "planned" component that utilizes some other type of media. For my experimental portion I decided to try a new dyeing technique called "ice dyeing," where fabric is placed on a rack, covered with ice, and then sprinkled with dye powder. As the ice melts, the dye reaches the fabric at different rates and creates a really interesting effect. The technique is pretty unpredictable, so after trying a couple times I still came up with completely different results.



For the next portion of the project, I plan to choose an an area from one of these fabrics, photograph it, and convert it into a color separation that I can use to create a visual identity system for a fictitious fabric store specializing in hand-crafted textiles. I plan to hand print business cards and product labels, as well as several other components. It's a pretty ambitious project, but I'm really looking forward to it!

Graphic Design

Officially Employed!

After a busy few weeks interviewing for summer graphic design positions around the cities, I am happy to announce that I've accepted an internship at the Minnesota Zoo! I'll be working on a lot of their promotional materials for the upcoming season, as well as a major rebranding project that they are undertaking this summer. I'm really excited to gain some hands-on experience with branding for a large organization, especially for one as fun as the zoo! I'll be working 30 hours a week from mid-May through August, which makes it a nearly full-time position. It'll definitely be an intense experience, but I have no doubt that it will be worth it! I'm looking forward to getting involved, learning a lot, and having a blast in the process.

Graphic Design


Magazine Makeover

Since I first began the Graphic Design program here at the U, one of my biggest interests in the field has been editorial design. I'm specifically interested in the visual composition of books and magazines, and I would love to pursue a career at a publishing company or work in-house for a major magazine.

After nearly two years of looking forward to it, I'm finally getting the chance to work on an editorial project. In my Typography class we are currently redesigning the cover, contents page, and two spreads of an existing magazine. For my project I chose to focus on First for Women magazine, which is in serious need of some design TLC. The magazine's content primarily consists of health-related articles and promotes a positive lifestyle among its wide age-range of female readers. For the purposes of this project, we were instructed to alter the magazine's target audience to make it a bit more specific. I chose to go with a slightly older demographic, focusing on health-conscious, active women between the ages of 40 and 55.

The original aesthetic of the magazine was very overwhelming and cluttered, with bright colors, huge fonts, and loud graphic elements that changed on every page. My goal was to tone down the design, make it more organized, more legible, and much more pleasant to look at overall. I redesigned the masthead to serve dual purpose as a framing element and gave the magazine a fresh color scheme to emphasize the health aspect of the publication. Before and after images of the cover are shown below:


Let me know what you think in the comments below! I'd love to hear your opinions!

Graphic Design

CMYK Magic

Last week in my Surface Design class, we were introduced to our next big screen printing project! The goal is to design and create several prints of a poster using a technique called "color separation." This process mimics four color process printing, where small dots of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black are placed on the paper in multiple layers that combine to create the illusion of many more colors.

For my design, I chose to create a modernized travel poster using large geometric shapes and photos from my high school trip to Barcelona. After finishing the design, I separated it into the four process colors using the split channels tool on Photoshop, and then created a bitmap out of each channel. This left me with the four screens shown below that layer together to create my final image (on the far right).


CMYKbitmap.jpgI found this process to be extremely interesting, and loved seeing how just four hues could create a nearly endless spectrum of color. If you look closely, you can see how the individual layers of CMYK combine to create something completely different. I've included a close up of the gray section here on the right so you can really see how the separation works. It's such an interesting perspective, and it really changes the way you view color within the screen printing process. For any screen printers out there, I would definitely recommend giving it a try!

Graphic Design

Typography Time!

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With spring break officially over, it's time to reluctantly return to reality. Although this past week of relaxation has been fantastic, no classes means no new work to show here on the blog. Since I have this extra time on my hands, I thought I would get you up to speed on one of my favorite classes - Typography.

In the past few weeks we've moved past classic typefaces and basic type anatomy and began looking more at how to establish hierarchy and emotion through type. A lot of our in-class work has involved laying out type based on specific axes and grids, but we've had a bit more freedom in our individual projects.

The project below is one of my favorites from the class so far. It's a promotional poster for the Design Culture Now lecture series and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City. The only requirements for the poster was that it include all necessary information about the event, organize it in a readable manner, and be created solely from type. Since the event is geared towards designers, I wanted to give the poster a sophisticated feel while still using a creative organizational approach. The slicing diagonal effect that I chose really gives a strong sense of movement acts as a visual puzzle to keep the viewer engaged.


If you have any thoughts on the final poster, let me know in the comments below!

Graphic Design

Netflix and Nuptials

After a frantic week of cramming for midterms and finishing up projects, spring break has finally arrived! Although I don't have any exciting travel plans, being able to relax, watch some Netflix, and get an adequate amount of sleep will be enough of a vacation for me.

The break is also giving me the chance to catch up on some homework and get started on a new freelance project! I'll be designing a matching set of wedding invitations, rsvp cards, and ceremony programs for senior Apparel Design student Karen Fiegen. Her wedding to fiancé Zach Allen, a marketing student at the University of Minnesota Duluth, will take place next October at the McNamara Alumni Center here on campus! The invitations should fit with the ceremony's classic theme, yellow and navy blue color palette, and subtle nautical hints. With this description in mind, I've put together the following mood board using images from Karen's Pinterest page:


Even though I've never done wedding invitations before, I'm really excited to get started on this project! Karen has been great to work with so far and I hope that I can create something truly amazing for her wedding day.

Graphic Design

Dean's Reception Fun!

Last weekend I had a blast volunteering at the College of Design Dean's Reception! It's an annual event held for prospective University of Minnesota students considering the College of Design for enrollment in the fall. Since I was unable to attend the reception my own year, I was extra excited to be helping out and getting an inside look at the event!

My main job for the day was to lead a group of students on a tour of the graphic design facilities and to present some of my work during the graphic design informational session. I also had the opportunity to sit in on the Honors Luncheon, where I spoke about my experience as an honors student, answered questions about the Honors Program, and got to snag a free sandwich from the buffet table.

Overall, the day was a huge success! All of the families that attended were extremely polite and seemed genuinely interested in the college. It was great to be able to share my personal experiences with future students, and I'm sure I will be seeing some of them here next year!

Below are some photos of the event that were taken throughout the day. (My back makes a special appearance in the center image.) If you'd like to see more photos, visit the College of Design Facebook Page.

Graphic Design


Putting on my Professional Pants

Although most of my classes are just reaching their halfway point, my half-semester Career and Internship Preparation course is already kicking into high gear for its final week of class.

During our past few sessions, we've concentrated on creating resumes, cover letters, and portfolios that are both appealing to employers and representative of our own aesthetics as designers. This was capped off by an in-class portfolio panel led by practicing designers from around the Twin Cities. The night before this panel took place, I decided that I wasn't satisfied with my current portfolio and completely switched sites to I'm now much happier with the finished result and got really positive feedback from the panel. If you'd like to see the new and improved version, follow this link:


In addition to portfolio panel, we were also required to conduct an informational interview with a professional designer in our specific field of interest. Although the assignment only called one interview, I chose to meet with two designers -- one from Periscope and one from Studio MPLS. Their workplaces and projects were definitely very different, but they both sounded amazing to me. I was really able to learn a lot and could definitely see myself working at either place in the future.

Next week we wrap up class with mock interviews, which will be a culmination of everything we have learned throughout the semester so far. I'm a bit nervous, but also excited to test out my new professional skills. Although I still have two years of college left, the adult world of employment already seems to be just around the corner.

Graphic Design

Online Portfolio Launch

This week I took a huge step forward as a graphic designer by launching my online portfolio! At this point it's still a work in progress -- I have a lot more work to upload and some minor kinks to work out -- but you can see the beginnings of it here:

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I had some difficulty finding a site that really represented my work in the way that I had envisioned. There are tons of free portfolio hosting sites out there, but they aren't quite as customizable as the ones you have to pay for.

I ended up going with folio24, but I chose the free version rather than the paid subscription -- it's still super easy to use and allows you to upload 35 images, which is more than many other sites. I also toyed around with PortfolioBox and Crevado, but they had a lot of limitations on their free versions. I may eventually upgrade to a paid site, but I'd like to really know what I'm looking for before I make that commitment. For those of you who may be looking for an online portfolio site of your own, this article has tons of great resources for you to check out:

Since this post was published, I've actually switched sites again. Here is a link to the new and improved version: I'd love to see your thoughts in the comments below!

Graphic Design

Mixed Results?

Hello everyone! Just as I promised, here is a look at the finished prints for my first surface design project. I ended up with a total of six prints on three different types of paper, each of which are slightly different.


I'm not completely happy with how they turned out, but for a first attempt I would say its still a success. After starting with such a strong background shape, I had trouble finding an image that could be printed over the top and still stand out as the main focal point. Instead of working against the shape, I decided to sketch out tree branch that roughly followed the curves of the original print. I went for a gnarled look to contrast the smooth lines of the background and printed it twice (slightly offset) to give it more visual weight.

It was a fun to experiment with a more spontaneous approach, but if I had to do the project over again I would definitely plan a bit more up front. Luckily I'll get a chance to do that soon, as we're already moving onto another project -- printing a repeat pattern on dyed fabric! I have a couple ideas floating around in my head right now, but I'll let you know when I have something more solid to show.

Graphic Design

My First Typeface


In my past couple entries I've talked a lot about my Surface Design studio, so for this week I thought I should give you an update on another important design studio that I'm taking this semester: GDES 2345 Typography.

The first few weeks of class were heavily focused on textbook readings, which outlined the historical foundations of typography, classic typeface examples, and type anatomy. This week we finally got some hands-on experience as we took a stab at designing our own typefaces. Here's a look at my first attempt:


bloom_fabric_11.jpegAlthough the text reads "Mango," that isn't actually the name of the typeface -- I just chose it at random until I can come up with something that really fits. I wanted to achieve a clean, geometric feel while still playing around a bit with the proportions. The top sections of the letters appear to be a solid gray here, but they are actually a slightly transparent black. I'm not sure how practical this will be, but I really wanted to try something different. The overall inspiration for the design came from the "Bloom" Chair designed by Paige Vanderkemp (pictured to the right).

Although the typeface is still a bit rough, I'm definitely excited to see where it leads! If you have any thoughts of the design, let me know in the comments below.

Graphic Design

Spontaneous Screen Printing

UnfinishedPrint.jpgAs I mentioned in my previous post, I've already begun my first screen printing project for GDES 3312: Color and Form in Surface Design. The project is loosely titled "Portrait," but it doesn't necessarily have be a portrait of a person -- the final print could depict nearly any subject, from an animal to a season or even a mood.

Although my own prints are roughly halfway done, I still haven't decided on a specific subject. This lack of direction may seem a bit strange, but it was done intentionally to give the project a more spontaneous feel. Our professor encouraged this impromptu approach and urged us to jump right into the printing process without any set ideas or plans.

Although I was initially a bit uncomfortable with the idea, I've really come to enjoy the process -- being creative feels much more liberating without a strict plan to follow or a specific outcome in mind. It's been really interesting to see how my prints unfold and where the next day's work will take me.

One of my six prints for the project is shown here on the right. Even though it isn't finished, I'm pleased with my progress so far. Up to this point I've been working with basic screen printing techniques and experimenting with a few different approaches to achieve the mottled texture and watery lines you see here. I haven't quite decided where to go next, but I definitely plan on including at least two more layers of color. I'll be sure to upload some photos of the final prints once they're complete. If you'd like to see how they turn out, stay tuned!

Graphic Design

Getting Messy!

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Now that spring term is officially underway, I'm really excited for my upcoming semester of design coursework! Even though we've only been back in class for a few days, my classmates and I are already digging in and beginning some major projects.

In GDES 3312: Color and Form in Surface Design, we've already started our first screen printing project. Compared to the highly-controlled digital environment that I'm used to working in, screen printing has been complete one-eighty. The process can be unpredictable and messy, but it also allows for a high level of freedom within the creative process. Each print is different than the last and you never know quite how the next one will turn out. Although this can lead to some imperfections in your work, these unique characteristics may turn out to be what makes a piece great.

The images below are from the website of Dan Mather, an independent screen printer and graphic designer based in London. They really show that sometimes the most beautiful things can come from the messiest places.

Graphic Design

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Designer Stereotypes


SpotTheDesigner.jpgAs a graphic design student, I'm well aware of the many stereotypes typically placed on professionals within the graphic design field. Designers (especially young designers) are often portrayed as avid Apple fanatics decked out in black rimmed glasses, graphic tees, and skinny jeans. Although I don't personally conform to this dress code, I do identify with a number of intellectual and creative traits commonly associated with graphic designers -- I'm very visually oriented, extremely critical of my own work, and a diehard perfectionist.

Over time I've stumbled across a number of infographics that jokingly outline these traits and poke fun at common graphic design stereotypes. I've posted two of my favorite infographics here, which you can click to view the full-sized versions. These infographics are not only entertaining, but also have a real resemblance to my own thought processes and habits (except maybe the one about digging through the garbage).

I hope you find them as entertaining as I did!

Graphic Design


Design Pin-spiration!

Since the beginning of winter break, I've found myself spending a lot of my free time online. Much of this time has been devoted to one of my favorite websites - Pinterest. In addition to its countless recipes and craft ideas, Pinterest is also a great source for creative inspiration. With countless boards created by professional designers and design firms, there is always something new to look at. Every area of design is covered, from typography to branding to packaging. I've posted links to some of my favorite boards below. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Graphic Design


So Many Classes, So Little Time!

With spring semester just around the corner, I'm really looking forward to my upcoming design classes! As I mentioned in a previous post, I will be taking Typography, Surface Design, and Career and Internship Preparation. I had also planned on taking Design and Its Discontents, but unfortunately there were no more open seats. Instead, I decided to take one of my three required program electives. With nearly twenty options listed on my APAS report, the only difficulty was choosing which to take.

I very interested in several classes including one on bookmaking, one on photography, and another on user experience in design. Sadly, none of these classes fit in my schedule so I had to think a bit outside the box. I ended up choosing a class called the Phenomenon of Everyday Design (DES 3351), which is only offered periodically every few semesters. The class not only sounds really interesting, but is also given by one of my favorite professors from freshman year!

Even though DES 3351 it wasn't on the list of preapproved classes, a quick email to my adviser assured me that it would count as a program elective. With such flexible scheduling, it's easy to find classes that suit my schedule as well as my interests as a graphic designer!

In addition to this change, I also swapped my Journalism class for Management 3001 and an Art History class in Roman Art and Archaeology. You can see these new classes on my updated schedule below!


Graphic Design

No Rest for a Designer

Winter break is finally upon us! It's the perfect time to relax, catch up on sleep, and enjoy a much needed break from homework and classes. But as much as I was looking forward to spending some quality time with my Netflix account, I find myself with a number of design projects in the works. I'm currently developing a logo for a student group on campus, creating and illustrating a Prezi for the College of Design Office of Admissions, and redesigning the Lambda Delta Phi sorority alumni newsletter. I don't have much to show yet as the projects are all in the early stages of development, but I've included a screenshot below that gives you the basic feel of the newsletter:


These types of projects and design opportunities are everywhere if you just keep an eye out for them! Mine were mostly found through mutual friends and acquaintances, and there are always a few requests posted on different social media sites. I would definitely encourage other graphic design students to take on a few extra projects when they have the time -- it helps develop your skills as a designer, and it always looks great on a resume!

Graphic Design

Final Web Design Project

Now that fall semester is over, I've finally completed my big project for GDES 2342: Web Design. As I mentioned in a previous post, the basic idea behind the project was to redesign a website for a local business or organization that was in definite need of some design assistance. My website of choice was Mesa Pizza, which was both fun and a bit challenging. Although it doesn't quite have all the features that I originally envisioned, I would say it's a pretty big success for my first attempt at web design!

You can see a couple screenshots of the site below, or you can check out the full website by visiting my U of M Personal Webspace. There's an issue with one of the fonts in Firefox that my professor and I couldn't quite figure out, so I would recommend viewing it in either Safari or Google Chrome.

Let me know what you think in the comments below! I'd love to hear your opinions.

Graphic Design




Web Design in the Twin Cities

Since I started my web design class at the beginning of this semester, I've found myself paying a lot more attention to the designs of the websites that I regularly visit. I've also developed a habit of browsing for new and interesting websites during my free time between classes and homework. Through this process, I've discovered a lot of really inspiring sites, many of which are for design firms right here in the Twin Cities! I've included images of some of my favorites below, which you can click on to visit the actual sites.

Even though my class isn't quite this advanced, these websites got me truly excited about web design. I'm hopeful that after another class or two, I will be able to create something this amazing!

Graphic Design





Oh, the Places You'll Go!

With my sophomore year nearly halfway over, I've been thinking a lot about studying abroad. It's something that I've always wanted to do, and it looks like I may finally get the opportunity sometime next year!

Although I'm not very far into the planning process, I've been spending a lot of time browsing through the Learning Abroad Center website. It's exciting to see all the different countries I could visit, but with over 300 study abroad programs available, the possibilities are a little overwhelming. Thankfully, I was able to narrow down my options significantly using the Program Finder tool. I simply entered my major, my region of interest, and the term I wanted to study, and it came up with a manageable list of programs that fit my specific needs. After browsing the list, I've narrowed it down to programs in three different locations: Glasgow, Scotland; Florence, Italy; or London, England.

Now that I have a basic idea of where I want to go, I'm excited to meet with my program adviser and really begin my planning process!


Graphic Design

Design Demo

A few weeks ago, one of my professors from freshman year invited me to give a project demonstration for his current GDES 1315 students. The project that he requested is known as "The Book," which is one of my favorite projects from the class.

The basic idea behind the project is to select a set of lyrics from a song or a poem, pair them with a series of images that change the perception of those lyrics, and then combine those lyrics and images into a book. For my project I used the lyrics to "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay and paired them with images of a homeless man (played by my friend Hunter). Once I had my images and type layed out into pages, I printed and assembled them using an accordion style fold. I then attached the pages to a cover that I made myself using bookboard, Japanese book paper, and a lot of glue.


As part of the demonstration, I brought in my finished book to show the class. I also brought some leftover materials from the project and assembled a miniature book cover to give them an idea of how the process works. It was great to be able to share my knowledge with a new group of students and I hope that I was able to help them complete their projects successfully!

Graphic Design

Mesa Pizza Redesign!

For my Web Design class (GDes 2342), our biggest project this semester has been redesigning the website of a local business. We were initially assigned this project at the beginning of September, but were unable to make much progress on it due to our lack of web design knowledge. Now that the semester is heading into its final weeks, our websites are finally beginning to come together.

My business of choice for this project was Mesa Pizza, whose website was in major need of some TLC. In addition to the fulfilling the regular requirements of the project, I also chose to treat the website as a basic rebranding project. This decision mainly arose because of my dissatisfaction with Mesa's logo. Although I love Mesa Pizza, I've never been a fan of their logo. I don't find it to be particularly appealing on a visual level, and it doesn't really reflect the fun and youthful atmosphere that Mesa embodies. I was initially a bit nervous about changing something that is important to so many students, but I really thought that altering the logo would enhance the website.

I quickly established the basic color scheme and overall feel of the site, and then began working on the logo. I have now narrowed down my options to the two tentative logos seen below. Although there is still a long way to go, it's great to see the visual and technical aspects of the site finally coming together. I look forward to sharing the finished website with you in the near future!



P.S. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Graphic Design

Spring Semester Approaches!

With only four weeks of classes left before winter break, preparations for next semester are already beginning. On Tuesday I will register for my spring classes, which I am really looking forward to! After a nearly design-free semester, I'm excited to jump back into some hands-on graphic design classes. If everything goes as planned, here are the classes I'll be taking:


GDES 2345 - Typography
This course focuses on Typography, which the art and technique of arranging type. The class integrates Typographic principles into a variety of projects that are done both digitally and by hand.

GDES 2399W - Design and its Discontents
This class focuses on a number of universal concepts and theories within the design world. One of the biggest projects centers on consumption: What do we consume and why? This can include anything from the food we eat to the music we listen to.

DES 3201 - Career and Internship Preparation for Design
This course provides students with the tools needed to locate and secure jobs and internships within their specific field of study. It outlines the job search process, helps students identify personal skills and strengths, and teaches them how to create cover letters, resumes, and portfolios.

GDES 3312 - Color and Form in Surface Design
I am a bit foggy on the content of this course, but it seems to focus on different methods of altering surface materials (printing, dyeing, etc).

JOUR 3004W - Information for Mass Communication
This is my only non-design course of the semester, which I will be taking to fulfill my Mass Communication minor requirements. The class focuses on the application of information strategies within different mass media industries, including the processes of gathering, evaluating, and using information.

If you need help planning out your schedule for next semester, try using the U of M's Schedule Builder!

Graphic Design

Designing Life

Despite my lack of graphic design courses this semester, I have been busily putting my design skills to work in a number of other classes. Just last week, I utilized these skills in my Astronomy Lab for an unexpected and slightly unusual purpose - designing an alien life form.

The assignment was to choose any body in our solar system and develop a life form specifically adapted to it. My group chose Jupiter's moon Io, which just so happens to be the most volcanically active body in our solar system.

Alien.jpgAfter selecting our creature's home, my group immediately went to work brainstorming different adaptations that would allow it to survive in such a harsh environment. We chose to give it a gelatinous body that would resist Io's extreme temperatures and allow for easy movement. Due to the absence of plant life, we decided that the creature would derive its energy from sulfur and other volcanic wastes abundant in Io's atmosphere. The creature would collect these gases through its large mouth, filter out the energy-giving elements, and eject the remaining gases through holes in its underbelly and sides. These jets of gas would allow the creature to float above lava patches and areas of intense heat. Rather than eyesight, we decided that our life form would navigate using thermal readings generated by sensors in the tips of its sweeping tentacles.

Although the resulting sketch is definitely not something to display in my portfolio, it was created using the same critical thinking skills developed through three semesters of design coursework. This just goes to show the importance of design experience, even the most unlikely of situations.

Graphic Design

Web Design: Celebrating the Small Victories

As I mentioned in a previous post, this semester has been a bit unusual for me as I am only enrolled in one class for my major: GDes 2342 Web Design. When I first registered for this class last spring, I was extremely excited − I had no previous experience in web design and was eager to learn something completely new.

MyFirstHomepage.jpgMy classmates and I spent the first month of the course learning how to write basic HTML code for a webpage. Although I found this topic interesting, it was a bit difficult to pick up. The code was very picky and at times could be extremely complex. After several unsuccessful attempts, I finally succeeded in creating my first webpage (shown to the right). Even though it was extremely rudimentary, it felt like a major accomplishment.

After working a bit more with HTML, the class moved on to CSS code − this is where the fun really started. We were finally able to add colors, fonts, and work with the layout of the page. After weeks of basic, unattractive web pages, it was a relief to create something a bit more appealing.

Now that the semester is halfway through, our class is finally ready to begin coding our own websites. Although most of us still have a long way to go before we are competent web designers, we have definitely made huge strides forward. I am excited to begin work on my own website and am looking forward to developing my skills further throughout the remainder of my semester!

Graphic Design

Portfolio Review = PASS!


Hello again everyone!

If you've kept up with my past few entries, you may recall that I was recently preparing for my upcoming portfolio review session. This preparation culminated last Friday when I finally completed my review! I have since received my results and am extremely pleased to announce that I passed! I am now an Official Graphic Design Major.


Although the process was nerve wracking, it was definitely not as scary as I had anticipated. The most difficult part may have been waiting for my turn in the hallway along with the six other students in my group. Each time the door to the review room opened and a name was called, my stomach would drop a little further in anticipation of my turn.

However, when the time finally arrived, my nerves surprisingly subsided. Even though I was talking to a panel of judges, it felt like just like another class critique. The review process lasted less than ten minutes, and upon leaving the room it felt as though a great weight had been lifted off my chest. Even though I didn't yet know if I had passed, it felt great to have the experience behind me.

After a tense week of constantly checking my email inbox, I finally received my results. It arrived in the middle of my web design class, which happened to include several members of my portfolio review group. Word quickly spread around the room that the emails were in, and we abandoned our work in frantic pursuit of our results. I was ecstatic to learn that I had passed, and was happy to hear that the other students in my group made the cut as well.

It feels amazing to have passed my review and finally be able to call myself an official member of Graphic Design program. I'm feeling comfortable, confident, and am looking forward to completing the rest of my undergraduate study here at the College of Design!

Graphic Design

Design + Journalism

As a student in the College of Design, I have become accustomed to spending a good portion of my time on the St. Paul campus. I enjoy getting away from the hustle and bustle of East Bank and look forward to the relaxing twenty-minute ride on the Campus Connector. However, this semester I find myself only making the trek between campuses twice a week. This change is due to my current class schedule, which contains only one Graphic Design course. Instead, my schedule is filled with classes for my planned minor in Mass Communication.

Thumbnail image for murphy.hall.jpg Communication is a fairly common minor among Graphic Design students as it often meshes well with their course work and career goals (especially advertising). It is part of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which is located in Murphy Hall on the East Bank Campus (shown in the photo to the right). Although it is a journalism program, isn't just for students who want to be journalists. The program offers a wide range of course options that can be tailored to suit anyone's interests. Two of the classes that I'm particularly interested in are JOUR 3006 Visual Communication and JOUR 4242 Advertising Portfolio Development.

Although I have not yet declared a Mass Communication minor, I am hoping to do so at the end of fall semester after I have completed the prerequisite courses. I'm really enjoying the classes so far, and am looking forward to becoming an official member of the School of Journalism!

Graphic Design