First Cohort of Digital Art and Design Graduates

June 8, 2020

First Cohort of Digital Art and Design Graduates

The Department of Art and Visual Studies is graduating its first cohort of digital art and design majors, three years after the major was created at Whittier College.

The Digital Art and Design program was designed to meet a growing student interest in the applied arts. It emphasizes the societal and cultural responsibilities of the designer, as well as the importance of collaboration across different art disciplines. Students are provided with extensive coursework in graphic design, as well as additional courses in animation, web design, motion graphics, typography, digital illustration, and more. 

“This year's students produced some truly exceptional work,” said Associate Professor of Art Jenny Herrick. “Their portfolios show impressive visual acuity, intelligence, and professionalism, and we are excited to see where their careers take them.”

Yellow Lazy Oaf BackpackBrianne Estrada ’20 is a double major in digital art and design and social and environmental marketing, which she created through the Whittier Scholars Program (WSP). She’s passionate about activism and brand development for small businesses, and says she’s grateful to professors Herrick, Brody Albert, sal johnston, and others for encouraging her interests.

As part of the design major, Estrada and her peers periodically printed out their work to offer constructive feedback to each other. These “art crits” always ended in excitement and left the participants feeling motivated to do their best work, Estrada explained.

Estrada is most proud of a project in which she rebranded Lazy Oaf, a London fashion store. She’s glad the project pushed her out of her comfort zone. “[Working on this project] was an amazing first step in discovering my passion for brand design,” she said.

Art history and digital art and design double major Dorian Peña ’21 is fascinated by what was considered beautiful to different cultures in different eras. Studying the historical evolutionMDAD Shopping Bag of art helps guide his ideas and designs.

Being able to express creativity through his course of study was very valuable to Peña. He said working towards a finished art project in class felt pleasantly familiar, and he enjoyed seeing and critiquing the work of his peers. 

Peña’s favorite project was a branding system he made for a hypothetical museum named, “The Museum of Decorative Arts and Design.” 

“All of the work and the finished pieces made me feel accomplished. I learned so much from this project, and it best represents what I want to do in my career as a graphic designer,” said Peña.

For Amy Trinh ’20, majoring in digital art and design was a big step towards achieving her goals. With an additional WSP major in consumer studies, she strives to use her education to one day work for The Walt Disney Company as an Imagineer.

Carmel Cafe and Logo“As a designer who hopes to create for places that offer experiences like museums or theme parks, I believe my education at Whittier was the perfect opportunity to explore my passion for design and consumer perspectives,” said Trinh.

Through the design program, Trinh had the opportunity to apply her interest in visual communication and storytelling to the real world. Tasked with designing a brand for a fictional company for one of her classes, Trinh created the concepts that would eventually be used for her sister’s new café in Brea, California. 

Nathaniel Heritage ’20 focused on creating work rooted in simplicity and clarity, but also capable of communicating complex ideas through form and space. 

“Majoring in digital art and design has taught me how to Affinity Dispensary Logocommunicate ideas that inform and captivate people,” he said. “As we transition from a verbal society to a more visual one, I think it’s an exciting time to be a designer.”

Heritage appreciated working on projects with real-world applications, like one he completed for Affinity, a cannabis dispensary in Denver, Colo. By rebranding the company, Heritage changed the way it’s positioned in the cannabis industry. 

Lauren Swintek ’20 combined her digital art and design major with a WSP major in screenwriting and film studies to hone her skills in animation and storytelling. She values the artistic possibilities of science fiction and fantasy, and made an effort to present female perspectives and diversity in her work. 

Celestial Bodies artworkSwintek remembers her first animated project, “Celestial Bodies.” It was the first time she embarked on a project of that size. When she finished it, she felt proud—she had proved to herself that she could be an animator if she wanted. 

Now, as a Whittier graduate, Swintek reflects that her positive experience in the digital art and design major was defined by her professors and peers. “There was a real sense of community where everyone was invested in each other’s work, everyone cared. They challenged me and made me a better artist, but they were also good friends,” she said.