One of highlights of our Bisignano Art Gallery schedule is the exhibit by our senior DART majors. The excitement is palpable. Animations, videos, photography, posters, books - you name it. This show indicates the end of our students' growth here at UD and it is an awesome experience. Their graduation day is around the corner, typically, and today often seems like a wave crashing upon the shore. Typically, that is. But this year, because of Covid-19, even our exhibition has changed. Different, but we've found a way. Thanks to the students and especially Professor Sheila Sabers for suggesting this alternative to our traditional physical show. (Creatives are just that way, I have found.) Same great art minus an opening with coffee and cookies. Oh well. Congratulations, graduates. Be safe. Be well. - Alan Garfield, Director of the Bisignano Art Gallery.
CONGRATS SENIORS! We are so proud of you and all your accomplishments. Your Senior Thesis Art Show is wonderful, and we did it despite this pandemic. YEAH! It may not be how we wanted to finish your last spring semester at UD but true to the class of 2020, you rose to the challenge. It is an honor to teach the Senior Seminar class, I get the privilege of seeing your creative artwork through all of its challenges and setbacks that goes into the design process to the reward of seeing the amazing finished project – I love the journey. Thank you, Alan Garfield, in building this gallery website and to the students, thanks for the critique sessions, creation of award-winning projects, our talks in my office and later over the phone, and the shared laughter. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life. Stay in Touch! - Sheila Sabers, DART Professor.
My senior thesis was a short film of my personal story of me coming to the United States of America from a different country. In that film it shows the real story of culture differences between these 2 countries, Saudi Arabia and U.S. However, the Coronavirus has come along with big changes since people start die from it and so I couldn’t finish the film project.
My senior thesis now is a song with a video called “2020 What a Good Start”. I chose that because I’m passionate about videography and music videos been always my top favorite subject. I’ve always enjoy watching them. My topic is about the year 2020 and how it started with Coronavirus been spread around the world. How we all had to quarantine and stay home even though it started to get nicer out. Coronavirus changed a lot of things, actually important things. It canceled my graduation ceremony day in the spring of 2020 which is an important day for almost all the student. I know It was for me. I was counting down my days for this big dream day that coronavirus took it away from me.
I decided to write a song about how it felt going through this hard time and do a music video that goes along with the song. I’ve realized that the song could go 10-15 minutes long to express the feelings and the changes that’s been happening around the world. The struggle of getting grocery shopping without knowing if you might get it or not. The number of people that got infected is getting higher every day, every hour in some countries. People have been through pain of family members or close friends that have passed away from this virus. The fear increases every day.
With the lockdown for safety, I had to do the video as best as I could. I had many ideas that I wanted to film that has a big risk of getting the virus. I decided to do what I could in the back yard or around the house area that was safe and to communicate the ideas. I had to borrow my brother’s graduation cap and ask for so many favors.
I must thank God first who is been with me in this journey and in all my life. Big thanks to Saudi Cultural Admission for providing me the opportunities and the needs to get my degree with ease. Big thanks to my brother, Mo, who stood next to me in this journey and taught me a lot about the culture and guided me to help myself to survive in my hard times. I also thanks his wife, Alex, for having me living over their place when I had nowhere else to go and helping me in whatever I need. I thank my mother who’ve always supported me and pray for me every day. I thank my Brother, Abdullah, who taught me how to be motivated and recommended books to read.
I also want to thank my adviser professor Alan Garfield for being patient with me and helping me to find opportunities as an internship. I want to thank his wife Phyllis Garfield for immigration or any other needs of direction and both of them welcoming me with open arms and not making me feel alone. I want to thank Professor James Cullen for teaching me how to be better with 3D animations and provide me the video tools that I needed as cameras and drone. I want to thank Professor Jean Holdener for being patient with me and show me how to paint and draw. I also want to thank Professor Sheila Sabers for pushing me when I needed, she pushes and helped me with honest feedback in her office hours.
Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia
I have been wanting to make a video at the mosque for a while now and that is what I ended up deciding to do for my senior thesis. I had so many choices for my senior thesis, but I thought this video might be helpful for others while showing my video editing skills at the same time. My video is about a Friday at the mosque where we gather and pray, and I also wanted to show the way we all pray together step by step at the mosque. Unfortunately, the video did not end up the way I wanted it because of COVID-19. I wanted to be at the mosque every Friday for three weeks to shoot the videos and then edit them, but the mosque closed because of COVID-19 after the first time I was there for the video. I was disappointed at first, but then I thought of it more as a challenge to finish the video with what I had gotten on that first Friday. I had no other choice, but I was lucky that I had recorded a few good videos.
The reason I decided to make this video was to inform people about Islam and to show people who haven’t been to a mosque what the mosque looks like from inside. A lot of people do not know that we Muslims have to do Wudu before every prayer, so I decided to add the steps for making a complete Wudu with a voice over.
I accepted the challenge from the COVID-19 pandemic and I created the video. I learned that I as a Designer have to be ready for any changes and be more creative when it calls. This challenge has given me an example of what kind of hardships I might face in my future. I also learned that we can still finish out a project even if we have minimal video clips or limited equipment.
Yet, I could not do anything by myself, so I am very grateful for so many people. I would like to thank God first for everything. Then I would thank my parents, Ahmed and Joharah for sending me here and trusting me and believing in me by the age of 19. I also would like to thank everyone I have met since I landed in the United States. Thank you, Alan and Phyllis Garfield, so much for being parents before being advisors. You never made me feel in need while you are around. Thank you, Sheila Sabers, for being a great professor. You have taught me a lot and you have given me the big picture of what my future career would look like and made me ready for it. Thank you, James Cullen, for spending extra time out of the class to help me with my 3D projects. Thank you, Jean Holdener, for your honest thoughts that made me want to be better. You made me a hard worker. Thank you, Isaiah Overton, for your tips and helpful feedback. I will always appreciate what you have done for me. I also would like to thank Kendra for being my other half and helping me to always move forward. Thank you, UD, for leaving a phenomenal memory in my head. Finally, I would thank God again for everything.
Albaha, Saudi Arabia
When I was just a freshman in college and I found out that we had to make a big senior thesis project, I already had my heart set on my concept. About 5 years ago I came up with the idea of Avrial and Annora; two characters in their late teens who at a young age were granted the ability to make weapons of light. It’s amazing having your own characters. As someone who is a fan of many franchises, this was something of my own where I could make the story. As a kid, I would always fantasize about being pulled into another universe, getting superpowers, or becoming a secret agent. This world is too simple and boring for this to just be it, right? I love stories. As I grow older, I realize that Annora’s life is a metaphor of who I am, who I was, and who I could be. It’s a story about accepting the help from those around you, and maybe realizing that having to do things yourself isn’t always cool.
I have always wanted to illustrate a story of my own creation, whether that be animation, a graphic novel, or just to simply draw more in general. I thought about making their story into a book, but I realized, it doesn’t have an ending. 5 years later it still doesn’t. What it does have, is a beginning.
Avrial is sent to the lightborn camp by his godfather to “get on Annora’s good side”, without knowing the trust issues she’s developed and her troubled past. During his time there, he begins to respect Annora’s leadership more than anyone else, and slowly falls for her as he begins to care about her wellbeing. Annora learns that the world isn’t against her, and it is only when Avrial turns against his godfather’s plans will he learn the truth about how his parents passed. Everyone sees Annora as invincible, yet her powers are unstable, and her lifestyle isn’t healthy. I decided to make Avrial and Annora’s story my senior thesis because they are something, I’m passionate about, and I finally had the opportunity to show my creation to the world.
I’d like to give a special thank you to my fellow DART students, who always made class more fun (with a shout out to Isaiah for helping me with late night critiques. Pixar will be quaking!!) as well as my coaches for putting up with my stress as well as always giving me graphic design work study assignments to make sure I’m always practicing, even off the track. I’d like to thank my roommates Savannah Jennings and Nikki Fehns for always being willing to hold a crying art student in their arms. Thank you to Maggie “Swag” Christianson for always being an extra set of eyes. I’d like to thank Jenna Heimark for being my first college friend and someone who will listen to me ramble about my projects even if she doesn’t always understand them. I’d like to thank my mom for giving me her art genes and my dad for constantly asking me if I free hand everything I draw. Finally, I’d like to thank Mariana Falletti for going on this journey with me since day one. She knows these characters almost well as I do, and I know, if given the opportunity, she’d take down Avrial just for the chance to be with Annora. Thank you for 7 years. And thank you, Dubuque, for helping me find myself. Goodnight, gamers!
For my whole life I’ve always been a third of a whole. Being a triplet was part of my identity. My sisters were my best friends and I spent very little time without them. When I went off to college it was my first time being my own individual. It was scary to tackle a new world without them. Our schedules were no longer the same and we weren’t experiencing the same things. It made me nervous, but it also made me excited. I was able to make a name for myself that didn’t include them in my identity.
As my time at college comes to a close, I’ve realized the importance that my sisters have had on my life. Being away from them has given me time to reflect on who they are as individuals and how they helped shape me. Being away from Kyra, we couldn’t fight as much and because of this I realized that we fought because we were so similar. My mom used to say we were like oil and water, but I think were actually more similar. We’re both stubborn and extremely set in our ways. When our opinions don’t match, it’s an all-out war. However, when we’re on the same team we’re a force to be reckoned with. I’ve watched Kyra grow in her confidence and self-identity. She inspires me to remain true to myself and wear your heart on your sleeve. Or in her case, wear your heart as electric green and orange hair.
Kyra didn’t go to college right away, so for the first year Amery was the only other one experiencing her first year in college. She became one of the best people to talk to. She’s a great listener and helps you put things in perspective. She’s also quick to call you out if you’re not doing the right thing. She’s a moral compass, keeping you on track with the best course. Amery has also grown into herself these last couple years. My wish for her is she would listen to her own advice and know her own worth. She’s one of the funniest and most caring persons I know, and she should let others know it.
This project would not be possible without my mom, Abby Lea Feyh Bruce. Having triplets is no joke and to do it with such grace is amazing. We’re pretty awesome humans and we owe it all to her. I’d also like to thank my DART professors, Sheila, Alan, and Jean, for helping me find my way in the DART world. If I had more time, I would have made a portrait for my best friend Chrissy Holmes. She became my surrogate sister that first year and has been putting up with me ever since. I also want to thank all my friends that I’ve made in the DART program and in other activities. You guys have made college really something to remember.
My college experience has been very unconventional. I thought I would follow the typical student-athlete path and all that goes with it. When that changed, I had to reorient my thinking. Forging a new path is not easy. My interest, outside of sports, was photography. There is no specific “Photography” major at my university. Fortunately, through an unlikely series of events, I was able to pursue my interest and education and, in the process, learn who I am and what I am most passionate about. I have learned a lot about “who I am” through travel, having had the opportunity to meet new people and explore different cultures. If you had asked me to write this statement four years ago, I guarantee you it would have been very different.
During my time at the University of Dubuque, I have been able to focus, with precision, on my passion – photography. I still love sports and other activities, but when it comes to photography, intuitively, I know I am supposed to explore, grow and learn. To me, that helps to define it as a passion. There is an old saying, which works well in Iowa, “Grow where you are planted.” My skills in photography and reflecting upon photography have certainly grown and changed over the past four years. I attribute this to the solid “planting” I’ve experienced during my unconventional college experience.
The difference between where I’ve been and where I’ve visited is vast. This show is about both. I have been fortunate to visit many of the capitals and cultural sites of Western Europe while studying at the University. Through cultural experiences, I have observed life and history in a way that books just can’t approach. That is where my photography comes in.
When I land in a new country, the first thing I do to get my bearings is look at a map. I’m sure that is a foreign concept to many in my generation. After all, who needs a map when you have a Maps App? I like to see the lay of the land, not one bit at a time. I know how to read maps and I enjoy watching them come to life as I walk the streets. After consulting with my academic advisor and professor, I decided to use vintage maps and, after removing some of their practical functions, make “art” in their place using color, line, composition and design with photographs of those cities. That is what this show is – less documentary and more creative imagery. If you know Florence or Paris, then these maps ring true. It is my hope, though, that they are interesting on a higher plane. That is my intent.
The funny thing is, as I mentioned earlier, the University of Dubuque does not have a photography major. And yet, because of their willingness to “think outside the box” my professors worked with me and helped me craft my program, so I have been able to “graft” the study of photography on to the study of Digital Art and Design. I’m sure this would not have been possible at a larger university. I have thought about the people I want to thank and why. Words seem so inadequate. To all my professors, you have instilled in me a love of learning. Specifically, to Professors Jim Cullen and Jean Holdener, thank you for demonstrating your passion for animation and art. Professor Sheila Sabers set deadlines and established deliverables for this Senior Thesis class and show. Without her sense of organization, the class would never be at this point in our academic careers. My mentor at UD has been Professor Alan Garfield since my first day in his Art History class. His knowledge of art, culture, languages and people has helped shape my work. He has treated me like a Renaissance apprentice, and I have learned so much about the world and myself through his eyes.
Finally, I cannot begin to express my respect and gratitude to my family. Dad, you have always wanted me to be myself, to be happy and find my own direction. I’ve listened to your counsel and, hopefully, gained your respect these last four years. Mom, thank you for believing in me even when I was trying to find my path. This support from both of you has been priceless.
What inspired my idea for my senior thesis, was the power of makeup. Makeup is an artistic form of expression; it is not just to cover imperfections but to make people feel more confident in their skin. Makeup is something that I’m passionate about and something I use in my daily life. I have worked at Ulta Beauty for 4 years and it is something I’ve used to bond with people. Makeup gives you the power to express yourself, I created this brand to reflect myself entirely on what people see on the outside, elegant and simple, and what people see when they get to know me, natural and full of rays. I did change a few things and made the palette interchangeable for consumers to have the ability to move the colors around to their liking and add those bright colors to help express themselves as well. At first, I thought this was going to be tough to accomplish because it was way out of my comfort zone. With help from the DART faculty I would have never actually expected to have completed what I did.
Before coming to the University of Dubuque I had no Idea what I wanted to study. Until I took a graphic design class my senior year of high school and absolutely loved it. I still was not confident in if that was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life or if it even had as many opportunities as other degrees. I had gone on many visits to different art schools but when I visited the University of Dubuque, I knew it was the place for me. I remember my visit like it was yesterday. Thanks to Alan Garfield and his goofy personality making me feel right at home and explaining that the DART program gives you the opportunity to jump right into those courses to see if that’s the degree for you. Becoming a DART major was the best decision I have ever made, yes, I struggled with certain areas that I thought I would love but I pushed myself and kept learning and improving my design skills.
I would not be where I am today without the love and support from my family and friends through this amazing journey. I first would like to thank my parents for being able to financially support me through this experience as well as being my biggest supporters on wherever my journey takes me. I also would like to thank my sorority sisters for giving me the opportunity to create posters and banners to help add more portfolio pieces. I also would like to thank Isaiah Overton for pushing me when I get in my head about my designs as well as being able to help me when I need it most. Lastly, I would like to thank a few faculty members who have helped me the most. Thank you, Jean, for guiding me through my college experience and helping me choose classes that best fit what I want to do in the long run. Thank you, Alan, for always putting a smile on my face and making me feel like I belong in this major. Finally, thank you Sheila for treating me not only as just another one of her students but making me feel like I am family. She helped me stay positive and on track when I was falling behind and always welcomed me with open arms. Thank you to all of my friends I have made over the years, I could not have done this without you. I will cherish every moment and memory we have made together.
When I first started thinking of ideas for my senior thesis project, I was honestly stumped, “what represents me?” I thought, “what do I want to show for my years at school”? My first instinct was to do something with travel. I have always had a dream to see the world, and my time at University of Dubuque helped me get closer to that dream. While I was intrigued by the idea of doing a few illustrations of places I’d been, something just wasn’t clicking, and I wasn’t as interested in working on that as I thought I would be. That’s when the idea of designing patches came about. Many people who travel collect patches on their journeys as a memento of where they’ve been, especially people who travel for more outdoorsy experiences. While I love traveling to new cities and countries to experience different cultures, most of my favorite parts of my trips have been the beautiful nature I have seen. So, I decided to design a series of patches of some of my favorite places I’ve been, many of these being state/national parks. This project has felt special as rather than simply purchasing a patch based on someone else’s vision, I got to design mementos of my own based on my personal experiences. I absolutely cannot wait to have these patches brought to life in real embroidered form.
The entire process of this project, as well as my three years at the University of Dubuque, has been a long and wonderful journey, and I could not have made it this far without an immense amount of help. As a non-traditional student, my college experience was a little different than most. Returning to school as a sophomore when most people my age were graduating was challenging, I knew that I wanted to go to college, but I was still unsure of my major. I decided to take one class to get my feet wet after several years away from school and by some lucky chance, I decided to take an art history course. As everyone in DART knows, Alan Garfield teaches art history at UD. I have to say, I’m not sure if I would have ended up in DART without taking his class. Alan helped me remember how much I love art by studying art history, and because of this class I went on Alan’s spring Ireland trip which introduced me to the people who brought me to the DART program. I also owe so much to my professor and advisor, Sheila Sabers. She taught me so much about design, I never thought I would know so much about typography! She was so much of the glue that held our classes together and taught us all how to learn from each other and take constructive criticism. I’d also like to thank professor Jean Holdener, she helped me maintain my joy for fine arts, and was the most amazing resource for all software in the adobe suite. I also can’t forget my professor James Cullen, while I may not have had as many of his classes, he was able to teach me skills that I never thought I was capable of and was always a friendly face to see on campus.
Outside of my campus guidance, I also had an immense amount of support from so many people in my life and I owe everything to them. First of these people are my parents, they always believed in my abilities and were always there to push me to be my best. Even at 25 years old, if I was struggling on any assignment, I could rely on them being a phone call away, ready to help me get anything done. I’d also like to thank my boyfriend Tim; he was truly always there to pick me up when I was down and support me through the hardest parts of school. There are so many more people that helped along the way that I owe thanks to also. This has been an amazing journey at UD, and I can’t wait for my next adventure to start.
When I thought about what project I wanted to pursue for my senior thesis, I had one goal in mind; have it be a bookend to everything I’ve done/experienced these past 4 years. That’s when I knew that a video game, including the various seniors that I’ve work alongside of would be the perfect project to finish out my studies at UD.
My idea didn’t come to me like an epiphany; I had to tinker around with a few possibilities. I wanted something that would use all that I’ve learned, would force me to learn more, and be something I can finish in a semester. So, I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to create my game in 3D as originally planned. The amount of work it would take to include a single person for my game would take way too long. That’s when I had the idea to make it into a 2D RPG. A 2D game, while not using my expertise in 3D, would be much easier to work in, and would make asset creation a breeze in comparison. I used RPG Maker MV, which help streamline the process and made my final goal achievable.
This product was inspired by the places and people I’ve met in these last 4 years. To Sheila Sabers, Jim Cullen, Jean Holdener, and Alan Garfield, thank you for guiding me with their knowledge, compassion, and patience. Sheila, without your forethought and honestly my time at Dubuque would have been much more confusing. You believed in me and pushed me when I was at my lowest point. Jim, you inspired me to dive into 3D modeling and 3D printing and expand my horizons, while also being a fun person to discuss with and play a little Unreal Tournament with. Without your support and critique, I wouldn’t have delved into 3D modeling, something I consider to be one of my strongest skills. Jean, you reintroduced me to Adobe Illustrator, sold me girl scout cookies, and pushed me to be more creative than I thought I could be. You taught me that I could be my own limiter and that the sky’s the limit. Alan, your lightheartedness and fun antics is one of the best things UD has to offer. You made being at Dubuque a fun experience, while also being completely honest about my work and offering suggestions on how to improve. All 4 of these professors have given me knowledge and experiences I don’t believe I could have gotten anywhere else.
To my parents, Jeff and Christi Gross, I thank you for making me the person I am. I’m the carbon copy of both of you, and that has given me chances and opportunities I wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise. Although my Mom isn’t with us, I believe this is a project that my Mom would’ve loved to see, and that has given me a sense of gratitude and pride. To Alexis Gross, Ashley Hayner, and Jacqueline Harden, thanks for dealing with my antics all my life. I know I could really be an annoying younger brother, but your love and support couldn’t be apricated enough. To my longtime friends Noah Frye and Seth Wright, thank you for being absolute goofs I can laugh with while also being absolute rocks I could lean on. To Matthew Stevens, Marissa Loften, Justin Kluesner, Tyler Dunwoody, Isaiah Overton, and Baylea Bruce, thanks for making UD insanely fun. All your support, compassion, and goofs are the reason I enjoyed my last few semesters. And thank you to the cavalcade of people that have made this possible. I forever grateful of all the experiences and support I have been given.
Web Design & Development Minor
What inspired me to do my senior project was growing up with severe anxiety and several traumatic life events that have shaped my mental health dramatically. I wanted to try and visually represent what I experience when I am feeling anxious and or depressed. The title of my senior project is “Beneath the Surface” because nobody can see the wounds or scars mental illnesses leave behind.
Since I can remember I have been worrying my whole life. In elementary school my guidance counselor would have to tell me what the discussion was before guidance class to make sure I wouldn’t worry about it. One year I wouldn’t go trick-or-treating because I was worried people would poison the candy. I watched one Criminal Minds movie and I slept next to my parents’ bed in a sleeping bag for a year. I would lay awake at night for hours with a pit in my gut. I never really was diagnosed and sought help until late in high school.
In college I experienced several traumatic events that resulted in severe anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Living through these experiences and also growing up with anxiety has really shaped who I am and what I have become. Being able to artistically recreate what I feel when I experience these emotions has created a whole new perspective on my anxiety and how it reacts with my body.
I would like to thank my parents for the constant support and love throughout everything. Without them I would not be who or where I am today. They have shaped me to be the best person I can be, and I cannot thank them enough. I would also like to thank my professors Alan, Jean, Shelia, and James. Without their love, knowledge, support, and empathy I would not have become the designer I am. I have learned and absorbed so much valuable information about good design and life.
My senior thesis came to fruition after time of reflection on why I have chosen the paths I chose in my college career. After reflection, I realized that I enjoy stories and the impacts that they can have on a person. Now there are many ways one can tell or create a story and there are a lot of different factors that need to come together to be able to do it. That is why I chose to create this fun animation for my senior thesis. I wanted to learn what it takes when creating a story, no matter the simplicity, while using what I learned throughout my 4 years here at the University of Dubuque.
My thesis, “The Path,” is a fun kid-style animation illustrated in Adobe Illustrator CC and then animated and stitched together in Adobe After Effects CC. As you will see throughout the animation the characters are animated in a stop motion style movement. What that means is that each character movement was illustrated separately and then animated together to show movement. As you will also see throughout the animation it has a simplistic style humor so young viewers have an understanding of the events taking place as well as get a chuckle out of the older viewer’s inner kid. If a viewer chuckles while watching this animation then I know that the animation has done its purpose.
I’m very thankful to have had the wonderful experiences I had here at the University of Dubuque as well thankful for those who have been by my side these past 4 years. I would like to thank my parents for being there supporting me throughout the years and allowing me to stay home to avoid the cost of housing as well their financial guidance in making sure I’m prepared to enter the real world after graduation. I would like to thank my friends I have met while my time here on campus, more importantly my DART SQUAD, Tyler Dunwoody, Jacob Gross, Marissa Loftin, Matthew Stevens, and Isaiah Overton. Those 5 have helped me break out of my shell this past year and helped me get involved more on campus with Photography Club and Civil Discourse as well give great advice and critiques.
I also would like to thank Nathan Ripperger from Media Services here at the University of Dubuque as he was my on-campus work-study advisor and always saw the dedication and hard work I put in when helping or taking charge of media covering events on campus.
My biggest thanks go to my DART department professors who have seen me grow not only as a digital arts student but as a person. Thank you, Jim Cullen, for not only your welcoming smile and laughs, but joining the DART family when you did and helping make the department brighter. I’ll miss those after class days when you joined us students as we duked it out in Unreal Tournament. Thank you, Jean Holdener, for showing the beauty in drawing and that anyone can improve with the right knowledge and practice. Even just the basics have helped greatly in creating an understanding of drawing a storyboard or sketch. Thank you, Sheila Sabers, for wanting nothing but the best for me and doing what you can to teach me how to survive the ever-expanding graphic design field. Your patience and critiques have helped me in seeing my own potential and grow confidence in my work. Thank you, Alan Garfield, for not only seeing the dedication and hard work I put into my work, but seeing my outstanding character, even on days when I can’t see it. The things you have entrusted with me throughout these 4 years and the opportunities and work you have helped provide will never be forgotten because they have helped me grow not only as a student, but as a person. Once again, thank you, professors, for all that you have done, this simple statement does not do justice for all the love and care you have provided to not only me, but the rest of the students in the department.
My senior thesis was inspired by my experiences with travel. I began my journey exploring the world when I was just a sophomore in high school, and after my first trip abroad, I found such a deep love for it. I went on to travel to three different countries, UK, Ireland, and Scotland, before my graduation. Then coming to UD I knew that I wanted to get my wings ready to fly again and travel once more, and before I knew it, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to France and Italy. For each individual country that I visited in my life, I illustrated a different setting or viewpoint, with each one representing my feelings and thoughts, throughout my time at that specific country. Each individual country had an impact to my life, and I did my best to convey those feelings with the art style, themes, coloration, etc. With each image they are all intended to stand out on their own, while still being able to work well visually when grouped next to the rest of the illustrations.
Starting out with this project, I knew I wanted it to revolve around illustration. Reflecting back on my first illustrator class, I saw my talents with it grow and I wanted to create something new that would challenge my visual communication skills and show off all that I’ve learned in the DART program. I found myself making more sketches and concept art of how I wanted the visuals to come across, and I think that it really shows as I look back on all of the progress that I’ve made. There were a lot of changes that were made in the process, most critiques making a beneficial change to the overall mood and style each illustration had. This was a substantial learning curve that I needed to focus more of my time on, trying to better understand how illustrations could come across to someone else that hasn’t shared my own experiences. There were so many positive changes to the designs that truly helped me get a better sense of direction into how others might see art. In the process it felt like a constantly changing puzzle that needed to constantly be put back together. Though I’m glad with how my thesis turned out, and I know there were a lot of people that helped me through this creative journey.
Knowing how far I’ve come in life, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today, without the love and support of my friends, family, and professors. The first person I owe the biggest thank you to, is my mom. Thank you for believing in me and helping give me the opportunity to pursue my love of design here at UD. I would also like to take a moment to thank one of my closest friends, Baylea. Thank you for being everything a great friend should be. There are so many things that I’m grateful for since you’ve come into my life and I don’t know where I would be without you. I would also like to give a warm thank you to Alan Garfield. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to travel during my semesters here, and for being the best tour guide I’ve ever had on a trip. Lastly, I would like to give the biggest thank you to the person that I couldn’t have made it here without, Sheila Sabers. Thank you so much for being someone that I feel I can come and talk to, and for being the reason why I love the world of graphic design. You’ve always been someone that I’ve always looked up to for guidance and support, and I know that I could never repay you for all that you’ve done for me.
Within my initial month of coming to UD, I wanted to leave. I didn’t feel challenged, didn’t have friends (due to missing freshman orientation), and I didn’t know how I was going to make it 4+ years at a school that didn’t feel like home. The only person I did have was my sister, Yanely, who was to graduate later that year. Not wanting to be alone, I was going to transfer out once she graduated. Now, four years later, I’m glad I didn’t.
You see, life is an adventure. One where we encounter new people, relationships, and experiences that help us – and our story – grow. Sure, there are setbacks, but our ventures shape us to become the person we are today. In my ongoing journey, I have met amazing people who have inspired, challenged, cared for, and helped me mature. I am proud of who I have become and there’s a village behind me to thank for that.
Combining my two skills, and majors, Communication and Digital Art & Design, I wanted to show my gratitude towards them. Where in communication, the written aspects revolve around the focus of identity and interpersonal relationships (my favorite concepts). While for digital art and design, I practice the art of translating experiences and stories into a cohesive visual form.
My thesis is a highlight of 11 individuals who have made an impact on my life. These people are my friends, family members, professors, and so much more. I want to share their narrative and greatness with others. From the everyday objects that give insight onto their character, to their story, favorite things, a quote/motto they follow, and the lessons I’ve learned from them. These all get combined to give the audience a snapshot of who these people are and how they’ve helped me ‘become’.
More than just a thesis, this project is a tangible ongoing composition of my community and my development. It has allowed me to tap back into doing things I enjoy and wanted to try but haven’t had the time for in-between projects. More specifically, being able to draw, reconnect with others, share stories, and try my hand at interviewing others podcast style! I was able to enjoy myself and I look forward to adding onto this series.
I would like to give a special thanks to my professor and advisor, Sheila Sabers, for her grace and patience with me throughout this project. From my sudden art style changes, to when she’d call for our weekly check-ins and I’d (consistently) be a minute too late, miss her call, and then have to call her back right after. Sheila has shown nothing but confidence in my capabilities and helped me feel connected with the class in the moments when everything felt so distant. She’s truly the DART Mom. I’d also like to thank my sister, Yanely, and her partner, Evan, for giving me feedback on my illustrations even when I would send them updates at the ungodly hours of 3, sometimes 4, AM.
My time at UD has been incredibly transformative and I will miss it dearly. From the moment I got over my “let’s leave” stage to joining (almost) every org., making friends, finding my ‘squad’, focusing on SGA and my time as student body president, to now, finally graduating. I couldn’t be more gracious for the amazing people I’ve met. And if you want to know the nitty-gritty on why these people are awesome, well, you’ll just have to read my series to find out for yourself!
Winthrop Harbor, Illinois
As my senior year comes to a close, I look back on my freshman year and at first glance the memories feel like they happened only yesterday. As I look more at how I’ve changed as a person though, suddenly freshman year feels like a distant memory. I’ve grown as an individual. I’m a more confident, mature, and open-minded person. My outlook on life has been rebuilt by the environment and people around me, and my mindset and morals changed with it. I wanted my senior thesis to reflect an experience that I’ve seen many people go through and do it in a way that I was passionate about. I chose to create an animation that symbolizes overcoming a mental breakdown. Several of the people in my life have gone through troubling times and have battled against depression, anxiety, or overwhelming stress. Many of those same people have found ways to stand up against the odds and come back stronger and happier than before.
Animation is something that I became passionate about at a young age. I began playing video games, watching movies, and sketching as a way to deal with my anxiety and it never stopped. It became something I wanted to turn into a career from the age of 10. That passion really came to light when I was in college, and my senior thesis was the perfect opportunity to display my progress and experiences with mental health. I wanted to create a story that could symbolize a breakdown and the recovery. I wanted to create a figure that represented the strongest figures in my life with it. My life has been filled with strong women who raised me and helped me stay happy, all while behind the scenes they were dealing with their own issues. They are some of the strongest and most influential people in my life. They taught me that no matter the type of problem we face you can overcome them. The animation showcases the way I view them and how they decided to not give up and truly believe that once you hit rock bottom, things can only get better from there.
I decided to follow the belief that sometimes it can feel like our entire lives are falling apart at the seams, and who we are feels lost. However, we all owe it to ourselves to hold on to that small sense of what’s important to us when everything else falls out of our control. Those pieces are the beginning of rebuilding ourselves to something stronger than before even if it feels like we’ve entirely started over.
This idea and senior thesis wouldn’t have been possible without the people who helped inspire me and push me to this state of mind. I’d like to start by thanking my mother, the most influential and important person in my life. She is the biggest inspiration for this project and my idol. I’d also like to thank my Grandparents for being extremely supportive throughout my life and always being there for me. I’d also like to thank my siblings, girlfriend, friends, and extended family for all they have done for me as well. They all have pushed me and supported me in various ways, and every experience good or bad has helped me become who I am, and for that I can’t say thanks enough. I’d like to finally end by thanking my professors and classmates who have been there for me directly on my path to becoming a better designer and artist. Thank you to Alan Garfield, the person who inspired me to come to UD, and always finding a way to keep every situation feeling more lighthearted. Sheila Sabers, for being my advisor, and mom away from home. Jean Holdener, for helping keep me grounded with the fundamentals of all art. Finally, Jim Cullen, for keeping me motivated and driven to learn more about animation, 3D, and video game industry. Thank you to everyone who has helped push me to become the person who I am today.
When thinking of a senior thesis, I wanted something that would make an impact long after I created it. I wanted to create something with meaning. This project tested me creatively and mentally. My senior thesis comes from a place of hope. The title is “Spot the Clot”. It is a blood clot awareness campaign. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about the effects that a blood clot can have. My grandma Kathy had a major stroke in our house in May of 2017. She fell and couldn’t get up. I remember helping her up with my mom and grandpa trying to talk to her. I had no idea what was happening. I thought she might have been acting different because she got a concussion from falling. We waited a while before calling the ambulance because we weren’t sure what happened. I wish I would have known the signs of a stroke because I would have been able to assess the situation right away and know to call the ambulance immediately. Time is especially of the essence when you are dealing with strokes. The next year was a roller-coaster of emotions having to see my grandma in a state of helplessness. She was my absolute best friend and I needed her. My mom, Lara, became my anchor during that time. That also changed when she suddenly passed away on November 10, 2018 from a pulmonary embolism (meaning a blood clot that travelled to her heart). I remember her texting me a few days prior complaining of pain in her legs and how swollen they were. If I knew the symptoms of a blood clot, I feel like I could have realized how serious those symptoms were and tell her to go to the doctor. Then they could have stopped the blood clot from breaking off and traveling to her heart. Just 60 days later my grandma, Kathy, passed away as well. She had a string of seizures because of long term complications from her stroke. Her body gave up on her as my whole family surrounded her in the nursing home.
These stories are my “why” for this project. Knowing how to spot a blood clot can save lives. I wanted to honor my grandma and mom by doing this for them. Sharing their stories along with others who have experienced similar things will keep them living on. Hopefully from my project people will remember the risks, symptoms, and how to prevent blood clots. If this project were to just save one person and save the heartbreak of their families, then it would be worth it.
“In those unspeakable moments when life brings me to my knees, I will remind myself that I am all the people that went before me. My body fills me, but they are me, I am their story. And to continue that story they will provide me the strength to stand me back up.” - Unknown
I would like to thank many people that helped me get where I am today. I want to of course thank my grandma for investing her whole heart in me. She is why I am who I am. Everything I do going forward; I do for her. I want to thank my mom for being my personal cheerleader. Not a day went by that she didn’t express how proud she was of me or how much she loved me. A big thank you goes to my Grandpa. He has the biggest heart and is definitely not afraid to brag about me 24/7. I can’t explain how much he means to me. The next person I would like to thank is Colfay. He is my best friend and my support system. From day one of freshman orientation he has had my back. He loves me not only at my best but even more intensely at my worst when I need it the most. I would also like to thank my aunt Leslie and great aunt Bernelle for making sure I know I’m not alone the past year. Next I want to thank my cheer coach, Drew, and my teammates. They are my family and friends for life. #ScFF. Lastly, I would like to thank my DART professors, Sheila, Garfield, and Jean. Each of them has helped shape me into the designer I am and have made UD feel like home.
Web Design & Development Minor
The first few ideas that came to mind for my senior thesis was all centered around the game industry. I first thought to try and make the branding for a made-up game, website, logo, concept art, etc. but after talking with Professor Sheila Sabers I decided to go all in and try and make the game itself, or at least the first level. Ever since I was in middle school, I have wanted to be part of the game industry, throughout the years I have played around with making games. I never got the games past the planning state, I thought this would be the perfect time to create a game made by myself. This would give me the motivation to keep on it and to preserver when I hit a wall. I wanted to pay homage to one of my favorite games Payday the Heist, a heisting game and the works of art I love, with the combination of the two I thought I would have a good game idea. My passion for video games and for art works was the main reason I picked this idea, being able to see a bunch of the art works I featured, in the game, in real life helped me understand why I wanted to feature them and wanted the world to know of them and to appreciate them like I did.
With the Idea I got inspiration from a level I made for Game Level Design; this level was a stealth level where you needed to avoid all the Non-Player Characters. Which in my game you need to avoid them as well and needing to sneak around some that are sleeping. With this in mind I was off to the races, I used what I have learned though my design classes to make sure everything was styled similar and was distinct. I used my skills of coding that I self-taught to help me undergo this project, but I know I have learned as much as I knew going into this project, with this under my belt I believe I can keep going and finish this game and spread my love of art to a wider audience. This project had some hard times for me, but I was able to get through them because I knew that what I was doing was what I wanted to be doing.
I have a lot of people to thank for helping me through the years, first is Professor Alan Garfield for first not giving up on me, even though I wasn’t always the best student, but also for the amazing trips that I have been able to go on and the artworks that I have seen because of all of his planning. Also, his Art history classes for showing me something I love, artworks, and his web design classes that helped me rediscover my love in web creation. The next person I need to thank is Professor Sheila Sabers, she also never gave up on me when I wasn’t a good student, she also taught me a lot through the short years of me being in the program. She helped me work on my designs and helped me get better, if you were to have asked me in high school if I would be getting a degree in design, I wouldn’t have believed you. Professor James Cullen for helping me through 3D animation and Game level design, two classes that helped me improve for the career that I want. Professor Jean Holdener, she showed me the importance of drawing and how to improve, I never really like drawing since I wasn’t good at it, but I now know that I need it and have been improving.
I need to also thank my family, my Father, William Stevens, for working at UD after he retired so I could go to UD without him I wouldn’t have been able to. My Mother, Mary Stevens for always being on my case about school, which has been keeping me in line. My Brother, Johnathon Stevens, for getting me interested in coding at a young age as well as video games. My two sisters, Melissa and Bethany Stevens, for always being there to support me. Lastly the friends I have made at UD I think all of you are truly the reason I’m graduating. My friends have kept me going to classes and to keep improving. Thank every last one of you.
Web Design & Development Minor
When I was told my Junior year about creating a Senior project and thinking of ideas on what to do, many ideas were rolling through my head while I was running, working, relaxing and even watching YouTube videos. I wanted to do something I’m passionate about. Something that would make me want to finish and make it the best project that I could possibly due while showing my skills and knowledge for design and marketing. That’s when I decided I would make a video. I didn’t know what type of video but I knew that I wanted to create a video and learn more about Premiere Pro.
I’ve always wanted to be a Youtuber or, content creator, and create videos that engages a community of people that have the same passion as me. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do and plan on doing so in the future once I graduated because school would come first. The first idea I had was to make a video about my life and how running for the past 12 years of my life has shaped me into who I am. As I dove deeper into it and thinking more about it, I realized that I want to do something for the cross country and track team that allowed me to not only continue my running career, but also further my education in the Digital Art and Design aspect with Marketing. I decided to do a hype video to show my gratitude towards my teammates, coaches and University and that would maybe help them gain more recruits and offer more help in getting students to continue something they were passionate about. Little did I know my plan would have to take a whole new approach due to the COVID-19 outbreak. With the outbreak happening, the track season was cancelled and leaving me with only footage from two indoor meets. I didn’t know what to do but with my professors help, Sheila Sabers, she gave me an idea to make a documentary and to show what the impact of COVID-19 and a pandemic did. I decided to change course and to focus on the first half of the video being a hype video with highlights but right in the middle as we get going, just like life, instantly stop and turn to the real-life scenario we are facing. I had my coach send me virtually him talking to show how big of an impact this COVID-19 is and how the university and his self are helping and doing everything they can to help move on.
The other two projects are artworks that I’ve always wanted to do. The first poster is of the three seniors left from my freshman year of doing cross country and track. We started with eight freshmen in my class and were left with three. Those two-people shown with me in the poster are some of the best relationships I’ve ever created and have helped college and life become great. Us three, were the culture change that the cross country and distance team needed to succeed and have a better future and we take pride in that. The other project is Instagram posts that are just highlighting certain people. Each group, distance, sprinters, throwers, jumpers and relays all have a unique style but when together are one team. Each person is unique and different and everyone deserves and loves a cool design and picture of themselves.
It’s been a crazy journey in the DART program and my running career. I want to thank my professors for believing me and seeing my potential and allowing me to reach for the stars and be myself, especially Alan Garfield and Sheila Sabers. Alan allowing me to work-study under him and believing and seeing my potential and Sheila for being the mother away from home and always pushing me to be the best I can be in design and life. I want to thank my parents Terry and Exie Tobin for allowing me to pursue a career choice I wanted and supporting my life choices while making trips up here to give me food. The last people that I want to thank are my coaches, friends, teammates and roommates for the past four years.
What inspired me to create my senior thesis is my love for flowers and nature, and my appreciation for the people in my life. I have many sketchbooks filled with drawings and paintings of flowers and plants. Often when my mom would go on trips, she takes pictures of things my family would like. For me, my mom would always show me beautiful photos of flowers. Loving flowers is something many people have in common because they offer a way to express how you are feeling without using words. I also like that there are so many meanings behind each flower, there’s a lot of already established symbolism behind flowers, and because I have such a vast love for them, I wanted to give them their own symbolism according to me.
I decided to illustrate the flowers instead of taking photos of real ones, because although I choose real flowers for each person, I got to create them in the way I saw them and with my own style. I found the best photos of each person and would look at it and think of them as I worked. I tried to think of what they would like when creating the illustration as well as using colors I thought they would like. I organized the flowers the way I did to create an ascetically pleasing composition that would be relaxing on the eye when you looked at it. I wanted to use colors that were bright and joyful but not overwhelming.
Without the many influential and supportive people in my life I wouldn’t have been able to complete this project. My mom started my love for flowers by showing me the beauty they hold. My dad has always pushed me to be my best in school. My sister who has always inspired me to continue to create art. My brother who encouraged me to keep moving forward with my passion. My brother-in-law who has always taught me that working hard would pay off. My boyfriend Nate, and my friend Anna, have been very encouraging and helped me stay positive. My niece Alice helps me remember the creativity that I was born with as I watch her express her own creativity. My nanny family, who in the most fun way possible, tested my patience and has kept me laughing. My grandparents, who have shown me unconditional love. All of the people who I created a flower for had a role in my project and I when I put them all together, I realized what a beautiful bouquet it would make.
I would also like to thank my professors who pushed me outside of my comfort zone and allowed me to be creative and develop my own style of design. My professor Alan Garfield provided me the opportunity to travel and see some of the most famous art and history of human creativity. My professor and adviser, Sheila Sabers gave me guidance and direction. Professor Jean Holdener who always would take the time outside of class to help me better understand what I was learning. And my professor Jim Cullen, who always would explain things very clearly until it made sense for my unique learning style. I would also like to thank my classmates who always gave me good feedback and inspiration. I wouldn't have been able to make it through school without these people.