Category Archives: School of Visual Communication Design

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.”

What’s In The VCD Bag?

PORTNY_1_FC881201by Morgan Barba

While most kids walk around the Kent campus sore from Zumba last night and bummed over a B- on their anatomy exam, VCD students often feel a different kind of pain.

It’s not just the pressure of three studios’ worth of homework to catch up on. It’s not tension from this morning’s critique. It’s not even the weight of the (design) world on their shoulders.

It’s the weight of those enormous black bags full of … what?

To those who study Visual Communication Design here at Kent, it’s called an artist bag and it contains every item necessary to life. Namely:

  1. First and foremost: 200 tiny Helvetica-ridden alphabet letters… for a project that happened 2 years ago.
  2. A t-square to use as a straight edge.
  3. Rogue X-Acto blades that are extremely dangerous but somehow they just stay there.
  4. More X-Acto blades.
  5. A self-healing cutting mat.
  6. Everything in the world that is sticky:
    Spray-adhesive to seamlessly attach paper to bristol board without messy glue.
    Rubber cement.
    Artist’s tape. There is hardly a purpose for this.
  7. A watercolor pad. Sketch pad. Newsprint paper pad. Tracing paper pad. Bristol paper pad. Elbow pad, knee pad. Feminine pad, even if you’re a guy.
  8. Tissues that dried your tears after your last GD2 critique.
  9. (The same) tissues that dried the blood from your fingers after the last time you broke out your X-Acto blade because INSPIRATION STRUCK at 3 a.m. and you HAD TO COLLAGE.
  10. A Moleskin sketchbook. If you’re cool enough.
  11. A color wheel because figuring out color triads is harder than you’d think.
  12. Paper clips.
  13. A wood burner that you’ll likely never use, but it’s cool.
  14. Many small boxes that you made for 3D Design and can’t throw away because they took you 6 hours to make.
  15. Probably a couple issues of Computer Arts magazines.
  16. A pack of pencils that costs more than a college education in some parts of the world.
  17. Anonymous pencil shavings.
  18. NOT a pencil sharpener.
  19. Various scraps of irregularly shaped paper that you can’t bring to pitch. You may need that 3×7 kidney-shaped chunk of tracing paper… you never know.
  20. Chapstick. You don’t know how that got there.
  21. A receipt showing that you have officially sold your soul to All Media Art Supplies.

At the end of the day, it’s really just a bag full of hopes and dreams that are stained with India Ink and smell like rubber cement. So next time you see a VCD student rubbing his or her hand, remind yourself of the pain that goes into making the basketball team schedule posters around campus.

10 Signs You’re a Kent State Visual Communication Design Major

by Amanda Azzarelli

1. You experienced a new level of stress when you were asked to draw a perfect rectangle freshman year.
Spongebob Drawing Gif

And that stress never went away.

2. Seeing a nice typeface makes you feel more excited than it should.
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Check out the serif on that one!

3. You spend more money at All Media and FedEx than you do on food.
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“Starving artist” is an understatement.

4. Your hands are constantly stained from Sumi Ink.
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And it isn’t coming off no matter how many times you wash them.

5. All-nighters have become a lifestyle.
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Sleep is for the weak!

6. The bag you carry around campus is almost as large as you and twice your body weight.
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Hopefully your degree will lead to a career that can pay the medical bills for your back issues.

7. Your Exacto knife is your best friend, until it becomes your worst enemy.
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They say the ones we love hurt us the most…

8. Critiques make you question not only your project, but also your life choices.
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But at the same time, you thrive off of critiques and can never get enough of them.

9. You’ve come to terms with the fact that nobody will ever understand what VCD stands for.
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Yeah, sure, it’s “graphic design.”

10. In the end, you have some pretty awesome projects to show for all of your hard work, and that makes it all worth it!
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As long as you don’t sustain too many Exacto knife injuries.

Contributions by VCD students Maria Cardillo, Gina Leone, and Alli Petit

Gifs courtesy of and

Kent State Intern Creates New Face For Local Company

By Endya Watson, Flash Communications

Kent State interns perform a variety of tasks at work. All internships provide real-world experience and a chance to grow as a professional. Some internships, though, provide a chance for Kent State students to not only perform “duties as assigned,” but to make a lasting impact on companies who hire them. For Emily Beal, senior visual communication design major and entrepreneurship minor, her experience proved to be the latter.

Beal began an internship at Price Builders & Developers Inc., LLC, a Cleveland construction company, in February 2014. She worked through the spring performing standard design tasks such as creating brochures and organizing product presentations. Over the summer, however, owner David W. Price challenged her with revamping the company image.

“I sat down with Mr. Price at the end of the school year and asked, ‘What are the threePrice Logo main goals you want your company to portray?’” Beal said. “Mr. Price wanted to be friendly, have a green, sustainability focus and to have his name be prominently strong.”

With these three objectives in mind, Beal transformed PB&D from merely friendly and patriotic to sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Recreating the company image wasn’t a scary idea, Beal said. Her Kent State experiences, combined with the support from the Price Builders team, made Beal eager to dive into the job.

“I was excited to see someone so passionate about his company and then recognize my talent as a college student that could take this on,” Beal said. “Mr. Price really gave me free reign; he said he trusted me, and I should go with whatever I felt was best for the company.”

According to Price, Emily has taken on revamping all company marketing materials, redesigning the logo, writing articles for local magazines, recreating the website and taking company photos, among other tasks. Price said he has been pleased with her attitude toward the work.

“Emily is really independent, motivated and driven,” Price said. “We both put ideas down on paper, but she really takes off with them.”

With her major and minor working in tandem, Beal said she understands the creative steps that need to be taken to take the company image to the next level.

“The VCD program has taught me to be thick skinned and take criticism,” Beal said. “In addition to that, my entrepreneurship classes have led me to understand how business works outside of the creative side, so I am able to incorporate my creative mindset to enhance the image of Price Builders.”

Beal said she finds her internship most rewarding because she is treated like a professional.

“I am given the opportunity to be a professional, not just a college intern,” Beal said. “When given an opportunity I am able to take the initiative to exceed expectations and others recognize that.”

Price said he is proud of what Beal has done so far, and he would like to see her continue to grow with the company.

“She’s really great at what she does, and I have high hopes for her,” Price said. “I anticipate her being with the company for a long time, hopefully as head of our graphics team.”

Beal continues to work at Price Builders part-time while taking classes at Kent State. She agreed with Price, saying she would love the opportunity to continue at Price Builders.

“They’ve talked about me working with them after graduating, which would be awesome and ideal,” Beal said. “They’ve been so supportive of me.”

To see some of Beal’s finished design work, visit the Price Builders website at

CCI Offers Wide Array of Summer Courses

Summer sessions at Kent State give students the opportunity to get some classes out of the way and to catch up, get ahead or stay on track to graduate.  While some students might cringe at the thought of taking summer classes, others take advantage of the chance to complete a few courses in six or eight weeks as opposed to the fifteen-week semester during the school year.

This summer, the College of Communication and Information is offering over 30 courses that span across all four schools: Communication Studies, Journalism & Mass Communication, Library & Information Science and Visual Communication Design. Courses are offered both in-person and online, giving students the option to choose the best learning environment for their needs. CCI is offering courses at all levels, from 10000-level introductory classes to 40000-level senior seminars. Don’t think these courses are all work and no play; JMC is offering summer film courses about Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, and zombie movies.

There are three summer sessions with courses offered during each session. Summer I runs June 9 – July 12, lasting six weeks; Summer II runs June 9 – August 2, lasting eight weeks; and Summer III runs July 14 – August 16, lasting six weeks. The last day to add courses for Summer I is tomorrow, Thursday, June 12, so be sure to sign up now if you are interested in taking a CCI course this summer!


Students taking notes in Professor Jan Leach’s Ethics and Issues in Mass Communication summer class

AnnMarie LeBlanc Named Interim Dean of Kent State’s College of Communication and Information

Posted Mar. 21, 2014

AnnMarie LeBlanc has been chosen to serve as interim dean of Kent State University’s College of Communication and Information, starting July 1. Todd Diacon, Kent State’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, made the announcement today.

Photo of AnnMarie LeBlancLeBlanc currently serves as director of Kent State’s School of Visual Communication Design, one of the four schools in the College of Communication and Information. She succeeds Stan Wearden, Ph.D., who announced last month that he will retire on June 30 after 30 years of service to Kent State and also will pursue a new opportunity at Columbia College Chicago as its new senior vice president and provost. A search for a permanent dean will begin later in the year.

“We are very fortunate that Professor LeBlanc has agreed to serve in this important capacity,” Diacon said. “She brings a wealth of experience within the college combined with a keen knowledge of the important issues in higher education today.”

LeBlanc joined Kent State’s School of Visual Communication Design as its director in 2007. Previously, she taught at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where she served as chair of the Department of Visual Communication and Design and associate dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. While in Indiana, she was the recipient of the university’s Outstanding Teacher Award. She also received an SBC/Ameritech Fellowship and was honored with an Individual Artists Fellowship from the Indiana Arts Commission. LeBlanc also has instructed in summer and semester-long sessions at the University of Michigan, Purdue University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

LeBlanc’s areas of expertise include color theory and traditional and digital illustration. In the past, her images have focused on ethnobotanical studies of her home region of the Louisiana Delta, the relationship of environment to folklore, and cross-cultural mythology. Her work has been included in more than 50 national and international adjudicated exhibitions, a dozen solo or two-person exhibitions and is in more than 300 private and corporate collections in the United States and abroad.

She holds a Master of Fine Arts from Bowling Green State University, a Master of Arts from Purdue University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Louisiana State University.

LeBlanc resides in Aurora, Ohio.

For more information about Kent State’s College of Communication and Information, visit

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Media Contact:
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

Visual Communication Design, Advertising Students Try Out for American Idol

By Nicole Gennarelli
nancy_wilsonSinging in front of Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick, Jr., and Keith Urban started as a dream and quickly became a reality for sophomore Visual Communication Design (VCD) student Nancy Wilson when she tried out for American Idol last summer.

Wilson auditioned in Detroit, Mich., last summer where she made it through the intimidating first screening round and received two call backs, one during fall semester and one over winter break.

“The process is very lengthy and based on luck most of the time,” she said. “The first screening rounds are the hardest, because they cut almost everyone; out of the thousands of people who auditioned in Detroit, around 40 made it through to the celebrity judge rounds. There are three audition rounds that people go through before the celebrity auditions and some spend years trying to get there. This was my third year auditioning.”

Wilson has been singing since she was two years old, so being nervous while singing is not usual for her.

“Singing in front of the judges was so nerve wracking,” said Wilson. “And that’s crazy coming from me because I usually don’t get nervous.”

Once Wilson sang in front of the celebrity judges, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. agreed to pass her through to the Hollywood auditions, but Keith Urban disagreed. Wilson then flew to Los Angeles to sing again for the celebrity judges. Unfortunately during this round, she got sent home, but is thankful for the experience she had.

“This experience has been phenomenal for me,” she said. “The actual competition was a bit frustrating and a lot of waiting, but it’s nice to be surrounded by people who love the same thing you do.”

Wilson says that everyone who has a passion for music and singing should try out because you have nothing to lose.

“Don’t take what happens in the auditions to heart; it’s very hard to get through on these shows,” she said. “But go and meet people with your same dream; go make connections and friends and jam out with people who love what you do. If nothing else, it’s a day well spent with music.”

Andy_LovrakAlthough he didn’t get to sing in front of the American Idol celebrity judges, Andy Lovrak’s audition process is one he will also cherish forever.

Lovrak, a junior advertising major, decided to try out for American Idol when auditions came to Detroit, Mich., this past summer. Singing has always been a passion of his, so he jumped at the opportunity of making his dreams come true.

“I have always wanted to try out. I have been watching the show since I was 10 years old, and every kid dreams of being some sort of celebrity,” he said. “I always knew that I was eventually going to try out, but I didn’t want anyone to know. This year ended up being perfect because it was a close location, and I could just sneak away for a few days, so I went for it.”

Lovrak left Kent at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning, arrived in Detroit around 8 a.m. and waited in line to audition for six hours. Once Lovrak and his friend made it through the line, they went through a quick registration process and were told to be back at 5 a.m. the next day.

“We then woke up the next morning and drove out to the stadium,” he said. “The exit to get to the stadium was so backed up it was crazy. We finally got in line and just waited. There were cameras everywhere, but I kind of hid from them, because if I didn’t make it I didn’t want anyone to know I tried out. Waiting in line had to be one of the most miserable things I have ever done. There were a lot of parents there who were living through their kids mixed with people who were willing to do anything to get noticed. A 15-year-old girl sneezed on me seven times, and I almost got out of line right there.”

After waiting in line for what seemed like forever, Ryan Seacrest came out and gave the audience a pep talk, Lovrak said.

“They had ten tables set up on the football field with two producers at each,” he said. “You went up in lines of 4, sang, and then most everyone got cut. The ones who made it through got to cross the field, wave their golden ticket in the air, and then went into a tunnel. Everyone else just walked up the stairs.”

Around 4 p.m., Lovrak finally got his chance to audition. Lovrak and his friend wound up at different audition tables and he was the first in his line to sing.

“Most people got cut off around 15 seconds and that was all they got. I started singing and realized that I was singing way longer than expected,” Lovrak said. “When I finished I was asked to sing a second song. I did and then got back in line. The three other girls in my line went and then they called us all up. The producer started with, “Thanks for coming out, you all did great.” I just kind of figured that this was their nice way of cutting us. He then said, “Girls I am sorry but it is a no for now, but Andy if you could stay back.” I don’t think I have ever had my heart beat so fast. He looked at me and said, “You didn’t think you were going to make it, did you?” I said no and he told me to have some confidence in myself. So I got the golden ticket and went across the field. It was the craziest moment of my life, walking across a football field, holding up a golden ticket as thousands of people cheered for me. There were 8000 of us that tried out and about 200 made it.”

After receiving his golden ticket at the Detroit auditions, Lovrak’s call back audition was September 13 in a Detroit hotel. The producers made everyone sing “Sign, Sealed, Delivered” many times as a group and then gave them a pep talk.

“The head producer walked in and said, “We are judging you on your voice, your looks and your personality. If you don’t like it go try out for The Voice,”” he said. “I will never forget it.”

After another four hours of waiting, it was finally Lovrak’s turn to audition in front of the producers.

“I went into a room with the producers and started singing. About 10 seconds in the girl and guy in the middle started arguing because the guy wanted to put me through and the girl did not,” Lovrak said. “They were arguing very loud which made it really hard to concentrate. The girl then waved her hand in the air and said ‘It’s a no for now. You just aren’t there yet.’ That was the end for me.”

Although Lovrak didn’t make it to Hollywood, there isn’t a thing he would change about his audition experience.

“I never in a million years thought I would make it through, and I did,” he said. “The thing I kept telling myself was that if I never tried then I would never know. At least if I tried I couldn’t regret it later. Getting that first golden ticket was the best moment of my life, but it took a lot out of me. I wouldn’t change a thing about it though.”