Category Archives: Alumni

VCD Alumna Designs Mantra Coloring Book

by Sarah Matthews

Kent State Visual Communication Design alumna Katie Daugherty co-illustrated a coloring book titled img_5098-1You Got This: A Mantra Coloring Book.

Daugherty teamed up with Lora DiFranco, owner of Free Period Press, to create the coloring book. DiFranco said she began Free Period Press in 2013 because she wanted an easy craft to do after her nine-to-five job.

“Our whole mission is to create products to help people unplug, relax and reignite their creativity,” DiFranco said.

According to the Free Period Press website, the You Got This: A Mantra Coloring Book “is as meditative as it is motivational with 30 pages of illustrated inspiration.”

“Coloring is so relaxing, but it struck me that it could also help people get motivated if they were focusing on a positive phrase,” DiFranco said.

During her time at Kent State, Daugherty worked as a graphic designer at Signum Design, which is a student-run design studio on campus. She said illustrating a coloring book was challenging because it wasn’t like any other project she had worked on before.img_5099-1

“It was hard thinking in black and white lines when typically I like to work with tons of color, so there was a lot of sketching I needed to do,” Daugherty said.

Despite the challenges, Daugherty said her education and work experience at Kent State helped her accomplish this task.

“My education at Kent State helped every step of the way,” Daugherty said. “I learned everything about the process of working on an illustration project and how to think creatively to find a solution that is both effective and interesting.”

DiFranco said the coloring book has been well received and exceeded their expectations by raising twice their goal amount via Kickstarter. It was also featured in a Buzzfeed article.

“A couple of people have reached out to say that they’ve given the book as a gift to their friends and families who are going through chemo, and that it’s really helped them,” she said. “Some have even posted their finished pages around the hospital. That’s been amazing to hear.”

Daugherty said she is very satisfied with the end result of the coloring book and is currently working on a new project.

Daugherty said, “I’m actually in the very early stage of developing a new coloring book with Free Period Press, and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Alumna Earns Spot in Top 10 of “I Love My Librarian” Awards

School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) alumna Holly Camino, M.L.S. ’96, was chosen as one of 10 winners of the 2013 Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times  I Love My Librarian Award.

Camino, originally from Medina, Ohio, graduated from Ohio University in 1995 with a degree in sociology. She began working at the Medina Library at 16 years old as a page in the children’s room.

“I enjoyed working there and went on to work as a student assistant at Alden Library while at Ohio University,” Camino said. “On summer breaks I would work at the Medina Library. When I was about to graduate, I knew that I needed to pursue a master’s degree, but wasn’t exactly sure in what field.  My supervisor at the time, Cindy Lombardo, suggested I go to library school because she felt I would be good at it. It seemed like a good choice, and it definitely was the right one for me.”

Camino has held a range of library positions after obtaining her Master of Library Science (M.L.S.), and is currently manager of Buckeye Library in Medina where she oversees the day-to-day operations of the branch and staff. She also leads the Author Event committee, Adult Team, which is responsible for making sure that the system is addressing the needs of staff and patrons in regards to adult services, and is involved in several strategic planning efforts.

“Besides being surrounded by books, I really enjoy the interaction with our patrons, many of whom I know because I grew up in the area and graduated from Buckeye High School, across the street from the library,” she said.

Camino was nominated for the I Love My Librarian Award by a teen who has visited Buckeye Library after school for the past five years because he needed a place to go.

“I received a voicemail message from Maureen Sullivan from the American Library Association, and I had no idea what it was about, but just had to call her back,” Camino said. “When she told me I won the award, I couldn’t believe it. It was just the most awesome news!”

Camino, her husband and parents all flew to New York last December to attend the awards reception hosted by The New York Times.

“It was an amazing time, and the event was lovely,” she said. “It is nice to be recognized for the hard work that my staff and I do. It has been a very exciting time, and I just feel honored to have been selected.”

Camino’s advice for students wanting to pursue a career in library science – go for it!

“Don’t limit yourselves by what you think you want to do in libraries,” she said. “Take different classes, visit different kinds of libraries, and take any kind of experience you can get. Taking different paths has led me to where I am today.”

Helpful Advice From Successful CCI Alumni

By Meghan Caprez

What does the TODAY Show, the Puerto Rico Track and Field Olympics trials, an international entertainment show, the Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video, and People Magazine all have in common? They’re all connected to CCI alumni, and those alumni want to offer CCI students advice.

Here’s what they have to say:

  • Mike Polk Jr. ’01, Web advertiser and Cleveland comedian
    “Learn about people and about self reliance. Learn different perspectives. That’s the important stuff. Since I have graduated, I have used the life lessons that I learned at Kent every day of my life, but I’ve yet to be asked by anyone what the Seven Ideas That Shook The Universe are.”

    Mike Polk Jr.
    Mike Polk Jr.
  •  Kyle Miller ’09, TODAY Show video producer and reporter
    “If you’re working hard towards something, you have a positive attitude about it, and you’re willing to do whatever anyone asks you to do at work, you’re going to get your breakthrough. Things are going to work out for you. People really do recognize hard work and they reward you for that. So go conquer the world, Kent State.”

    Kyle Miller
    Kyle Miller
  •  Brittni Borrero ’12, Gelia PR account coordinator and Puerto Rico discus Olympic hopeful
    “Take time to do the things you like to do. Employers are interested in your personal life. Use that to help you stand out.”

    Brittni Borrero
    Brittni Borrero
  • Shannon LaNier ’03, Arise Entertainment 360 host
    “Get exposure to every single opportunity the school has to offer. Students aren’t really aware of all the opportunities and advantages that exist for them. Talk to people. Ask people for help. Don’t be so big-headed and confident in yourself that you miss opportunities.”

    Shanna LaNier
    Shannon LaNier
  •  Alisha Williams ’09, People Magazine designer
    “It’s never too early to apply for internships. Even if they don’t count, do them because that’s what employers are looking for: the experience. When you’re making those connections, that’s how I got the job I have now. Don’t be afraid to apply for the big things. The dream job can be attainable.”

VCD Alumnus Phillip Pastore creates AMPERGRAM

By Nicole Gennarelli

School of Visual Communication Design alumnus Phillip Pastore created AMPERGRAM, a website which allows people to create typographic compositions using Instagram photos.

Pastore, ’05, participated in the five year combined degree program which allowed him to graduate with a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication Design at the same time. Previously, he has worked at Glyphix, the Kent State student-staffed design studio as well and done work for many freelance clients. Before Pastore’s recent move to New York, he worked at The Adcom Group, an advertising agency in Cleveland where he worked on projects dealing with animated motion graphics and 3D modeling, in addition to designing and developing Flash animations and web applications.

Pastore’s inspiration behind AMPERGRAM was sparked because he found it interesting that a photo, which tells its own story, can create a new message when it’s combined with different letters from other photos. Essentially, the AMPERGRAM database consists of single letters or number images which Instagram users upload and tag with #ampergram. By using that hashtag, users give AMPERGRAM permission to use their photos on the website and mobile application. If users want a more personal result, they can tag their own photos on Instagram and use those in their AMPERGRAM creation.

“While I was developing AMPERGRAM I thought of several use-cases, one being if the user was to create a message for their significant other stating ‘I love you’. At a glance, the message is received and that could be the extent of the experience. However, upon further review, the recipient notices that each of the letters has been taken from one of their favorite establishments during their relationship; a letter from a restaurant, club or movie theater, all recognizable on their own, but now capable of incorporating a message with further meaning,” said Pastore. “In a similar example, having recently moved to Brooklyn from Cleveland, I can have an AMPERGRAM on my apartment wall spelling out BROOKLYN but each letter is captured from locations in Cleveland. I now can have a deeper message that could be visually appealing for all, but more meaningful to me.”

Being the sole creator behind AMPERGRAM, Pastore has devoted all of his time and talents to creating this website.

“It has become an all-encompassing project of my abilities,” he said. “Everything from the concept, branding, overall interface and UX design, Flash development, database creation and PHP scripting, WordPress integration and customization, mobile development through Adobe AIR, and even motion graphics in order to create a promotion video for AMPERGRAM. I have been responsible for every aspect that you see in the final creation.”

Once users have created their AMPERGRAM image, they can keep it private, make it public on the website, share it to a social network, or download a desktop version of their creation.

“AMPERGRAM has permission to use the photos on the website and to promote the website and app using these photos, but I have always specified whose photos I am using in order to give credit where it is due,” said Pastore. “If users would like to download a full high resolution image of the AMPERGRAM, they can purchase it for a one dollar processing fee, which enables our servers to compile the image. If any user would like to use the photos in any other way beyond these personal means, then they would have to reach out to the Instagram user who uploaded the image in order to arrange an agreement separate from AMPERGRAM.”

The immediacy of the AMPERGRAM experience is what Pastore likes best about the website’s creativity.

“I like seeing the letters drop in place the moment I type a letter,” he said. “I like the functionality that the process can be as simple as typing a name and saving or as advanced and typing a poem that is filtered by color and then cycle through each letter option to find the perfect solutions. I love seeing people from all over the world using AMPERGRAM for meaningful heartfelt messages as well as uploading their own photos. It is amazing to see so many people enjoying what AMPERGRAM can create.”

Recently, AMPERGRAM was even featured on the Favourite Website Awards (FWA) web page as the website of the day. According to FWA’s website, it is “an industry recognized internet award program and inspirational portal, established in May 2000.”

“The FWA has been a huge inspiration to me as a Flash designer and developer,” said Pastore. “For close to ten years I have seen what the best agencies and individuals have been creating using Flash and other innovative web technologies. It is an honor to now be included in such a prestigious collection of creative works.”

Pastore gives credit to the courses, experiences, and mostly, the professors at Kent State in VCD for preparing him for his career after graduation.

“Because of the practices I learned in the program, I have been able to keep focused on developing my skills independently,” he said. “My goal is to never stop learning, and I am constantly taking on the challenge of new techniques and programming languages to make my offerings as strong as possible. This drive has clearly fueled AMPERGRAM as well as other personal projects. The best advice I can give about pursuing a dream, is to take on any personal project you can think of and see it through. I never thought AMPERGRAM would grow to the popularity that it has, but it has opened doors for me that I would not have had the opportunity to otherwise. Anything that you can create, do it; get it out there and see what happens. This process has helped me get closer to my dream.”

Graduate Seminar uses Innovative Design and Experiential Learning Process in the Development of New Marketing Materials

Homecoming weekend is a time to reflect upon what a campus and a school means to its alumni, current and future students. Using experiential learning and a research-based design processes, Kent State University’s School of Visual Communication Design (VCD) students will use Homecoming weekend to reflect on its graduate programs for the purpose of creating marketing materials to highlight its unique characteristics. Fifteen graduate and senior undergraduate students will be charged with designing flexible and customizable marketing materials to showcase the VCD Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs. The results of this seminar weekend will address every aspect of the design process – from research, to concept, to production.

VCD Kent State alumni and adjunct faculty members Jason Bacher and Brian Buirge designed the weekend seminar in collaboration with Professor Sanda Katila, VCD Graduate Coordinator. The seminar was developed after primary interviews and a comparative analysis of materials used by competing institutions were conducted. The pair’s design firm, Work, employed creative problem solving techniques to incorporate the school’s vision, mission and ideals in their approach to process and design, while remaining within budget.

Unique to the VCD graduate program is its emphasis on research-based design, exemplified by the thesis requirement in the MFA curriculum. Market research is often used to identify audience perceptions of programs and to determine what information should be communicated for greatest impact, but a key audience input – that of the current student – is often ignored. This experiential graduate seminar will provide an opportunity to incorporate the students’ voice in the design process. The creation of program materials will be a culmination of the school’s ideals in practice. Initial research identified five areas of key messaging that students in the seminar will address in the materials: community, collaboration, leadership, personalization and experience.

Buirge said a challenge of the weekend seminar is the tight time constraints. “We’re asking students to visually communicate the five key ideas with limited resources and without relying on text,” he said. “We want the students to experiment with images, photography and a conceptual development of design work.”

Bacher and Buirge’s team will document the experience to create print and video components explaining the innovative aspects of this design process.

VCD Alumnus Mikey Burton to Speak on Kent Campus Thursday

School of Visual Communication (VCD) Alumnus Mikey Burton, a Designy Illustrator, will speak on Sept. 27, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the FirstEnergy Auditorium (340 Franklin Hall, Kent State University) in a visit organized by the AIGA Kent chapter. Students and professionals from the community are welcome to attend the presentation, which is free.

Burton, Master of Arts graduate, has be been recognized with awards from Communication Arts, Graphis, HOW, Print and ADC Young Guns.

Burton is an Ohio native that currently resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Photo credit: Joe Wathen

For more information check out the event Facebook page or the VCD graduate student blog.