Stonehill Graphic Design Students Well Prepared for This Rapidly Evolving Field

February 23, 2016


John Hanawalt ’10, graphic designer at The OutCast Agency

When the 20,000 delegates attending the 2016 International AIDS Conference arrive in South Africa this July, they will be hard-pressed to miss the new logo for the event — a ribbon modeled on the distinct geometric pattern often used by basket weavers in many regions of Africa.

It will be everywhere. And, by extension, so will Stonehill.

Chosen from submissions by graphic designers all over the world and praised by AIDS Conference organizers as an apt metaphor for “the power of a tightly woven community”— the logo was created by Stonehill alum John Hanawalt ’10.

Related: Conference Organizers Talk About Why They Picked John’s Design

“If you want to show up to class and have someone tell you how to use Photoshop, you can get that lots of places,” says John, who works as a graphic designer at The OutCast Agency, a San Francisco-based communications and marketing firm whose clients include Facebook, Amazon, HBO, Instagram, Spotify and Airbnb. “If you want to do something great with design, Stonehill can help you in ways other schools can’t.”

Program Keeps Pace with Latest Technology and Applications

John is just one of many who benefited from Stonehill’s Graphic Design Program and is finding success in the field — which now encompasses everything from advertising and marketing to computer games, 3-D design and mobile phone apps.

“The industry is exploding and graphic designers are highly sought after,” says Professor Gary Stanton, director of the program. “A high percentage of grads land jobs immediately.”

Stonehill’s Graphic Design Program has seen alumni go on to top-tier grad schools and successful careers around the country, working in Web design, print design, advertising, marketing, publication design, package design and video game design, among other fields.

Professional Opportunities Provide a Competitive Advantage

Tori Faieta '15, left, Professor Cristy Vallee Morgan, center, and Caroline Thompson ’16.

One aspect of Stonehill’s program that helps students easily connect with those opportunities is the College’s network of internships. Students have interned at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Live Nation, Nickelodeon, the Fuller Craft Museum and DKNY, among others.

In addition, studying graphic design at a liberal arts college instead of at an art school allows students to flesh out their backgrounds with business or marketing courses, Stanton says. “The combination of experiences contributes to their success in a field that is consistently changing.”

John credited Stonehill’s student-run preprofessional graphic design studio, InHouse Design, for giving him early exposure to supervising other designers and managing projects. The studio gives students the chance to work on projects for on-campus organizations and off-campus nonprofits, handling all projects as if students were their own independent design studio. “It’s rare for students to get such deep understanding of the client-service side of the field,” he says.

Caroline Thompson ’16, a graphic design major and business minor, is the current creative director of InHouse Design. “I’m able to combine my design, leadership, organization and communication skills, while managing and cultivating client relationships with designers. Each of my experiences has helped shape me into the designer I am today.”

Caroline has already interned at DKNY, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Peabody Essex Museum and Sodexo, and plans on working as a full-time junior graphic designer in a creative industry after graduation.

I’m able to combine my design, leadership, organization and communication skills, while managing and cultivating client relationships with designers. Each of my experiences has helped shape me into the designer I am today.
Caroline Thompson ’16, graphic design major

Able to Enter the Field With Experience and Confidence

Samantha Dircks ’10 is now an interface designer at Hill Holliday in Boston. Among the top advertising agencies in the country, Hill Holliday’s clients include Major League Baseball, Bank of America, Chili’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Liberty Mutual. She concentrates in mobile app and small screen design.

“Stonehill gave me a strong foundation in all the Adobe and design programs I use at my current job,” Samantha says. “Overall, my experience at Stonehill has made me into a confident, well-rounded person.”

The Stony Brook, New York, native called her Stonehill internship at WCVB Channel 5 ABC News “my first real experience in a design role, and [it] prepared me tremendously for my career in design.”

“The courses at Stonehill aim to treat you as a working designer,” says Chrystine Muncherian ’12, now a Web designer for the Council on International Educational Exchange — a global nonprofit organization.

“We approached every project as if there were a client on the other side. We learned to become amazing problem-solvers with beautifully creative solutions,” says Chrystine, who credited small class sizes and one-on-one attention from professors as keys to her current success. Specifically, she cites classes with Professor Cristy Vallee Morgan.

“Most of my memories are of us standing over the production table, looking down at the work and her just looking at me like, ‘I question this,’ and forcing me to justify my decisions,” recalls Chrystine. “Her encouragement was so infectious; I’ll never forget it.”

 

Morgan says moments like that are why she teaches at Stonehill. “Those moments when the work gets put on the wall and all I have to do is look at the student and I know, and they know. And to see the students light up when this happens is just amazingly awesome because it isn’t about just that one piece … it’s that they’ve come to understand another piece of themselves as a designer.”

Adds John, “The design faculty at Stonehill would like nothing more than to foster young people’s passion for design and talent — all you have to do is show it to them. At Stonehill, you have so many opportunities you won’t get anywhere else.”