COV E R TO COV E R It takes more than your Spidey sense: An Illustration alum brings stories to life at Netflix. A Photography alumna balances art and commercial work at top publications. A Product Design alumna puts community first with adidas in a program for women of color in footwear. An Advertising Design alumna at Fitbit has a knack for building brands and shows us how it’s done.
THESE ARE CCS ALUMNI. ONE DAY, YOU WILL BE ONE OF THEM.
COLLEGE FOR CREATIVE STUDIES offers 11 undergraduate majors and a Teacher Certification program, but as you’ll see, the possibilities are limitless.
Serge Gay Jr.’s Flamingo Hotel mural: The Flamingo Resort, a beautiful mid-century hotel in downtown Santa Rosa, California, hired Gay to design and paint a mural that would complement its sleek and classically modern décor. Consistent with Gay’s artistic style, he used touches of graphic elements along with surreal imagery to complete this bold project. The concept behind the piece is that of a modern Monroe, working as a hotel lobby receptionist. The background is a fresh take on the tropical and floral wallpaper aesthetic style, meant to match the newly updated lobby room design.
“I think it’s that I get to put my own personality into my
Award for Best Animated Feature. Savas notes, however, that the job has rewards both
drawings. And seeing the final product, and seeing something
on and off the screen.
that I came up with on-screen is always a thrill to me. I can
“They have all been really good experiences, even the movies that didn’t turn out that
W H AT I T LO O KS L I K E TO
nudge my wife and say, ‘I came up with that joke,’” Savas said,
great have always been really fun to work on because of the crew and the people,” Savas
smiling. “I never wanted to be a fine artist or do transportation
explained. This outlook comes in handy when you’re the guy who serves as a conduit
D O W H AT YO U LOV E A N D
design or anything like that. It was always illustration.”
between film directors and story artists — pairing good ideas with talented people.
Savas has been in his current role since August 2019.
“I cast the artist that I think would be strongest for the scenes. Who’s the funny person
LOV E W H AT YO U D O
Working his way up from production assistant and showing
on that crew? I’ll give them the funny scenes. Who’s our action guy? I’m there when all the
his work around to different artists in the studio, he eventually
artists pitch their work. And I can give notes and follow up with the artists on how their
gained entry into a story trainee program. As a story artist,
scenes are going.”
What if you could draw great stories with quirky, wildly original
he started at DreamWorks Animation nearly 15 years ago,
Some of Savas’ recent Netflix work can be seen in Director Glen Keane’s Over the Moon
characters that end up on the big screen, to be viewed by —
working on blockbusters like 2013’s The Croods and How to
(2020), and he is currently finishing up the Australian animated film Back to the Outback.
and bring joy to — millions of viewers around the world? We
Train Your Dragon 2 (2014). Later, at Sony Animation, Savas
“Sometimes the director will just give me a sense of what the scene will be, and I’ll go
asked alumnus RYAN SAVAS (’99, Illustration), head of
worked on the upcoming Vivo (2021), directed by Kirk DeMicco
off and do it on my own. I can write my own dialogue if I want,” Savas said, recalling his own
story at Netflix Animation, why he loves his work so much,
with music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Spider-Man: Into the
storyboard work, which he still gets to do. “[Story Artists] have our own ideas, and often
but his enthusiasm makes us suspect that he would have
Spider-Verse (2018) — the first animated film in the Spider-Man
we can put that into the scene or we can inject our own sense of humor, our own style,
told us anyway.
franchise and winner of both a Golden Globe and Academy
into the story. It’s really fulfilling.”
A N D A LU M S H OWS U S
OUR OWN IDEAS... AND OF TEN WE CAN INJECT OUR OWN SENSE OF HUMOR, OUR OWN ST YLE, IN T O THE ST ORY.
anticipated films in recent years, including Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
As head of story at Netflix Animation, Illustration alum Ryan Savas helps shape the look and feel of some of the most
T H I S I L LU ST R ATO R
ST ORY ARTISTS HA VE
WHETHER IN ART OR IN BUSINESS, HERE ARE A FEW MORE THOUGHTS RACHEL ELISE THOMAS SHARED ABOUT MAKING YOUR WAY AS A FREELANCER:
R AC H E L E L I S E T H O M AS D O C U M E N TS A N D C E L E B R AT E S C U LT U R A L L I F E , S O C I A L AC T I V I S M A N D T H E I N T I M ACY O F D O M E ST I C S PAC E S I N M E T R O D E T R O I T.
Clockwise: Nick Gavriledes, owner of The Soup Spoon Cafe, Lansing, Michigan (The New York Times). From the collage series, Give Her, Her Flowers, Lovelier Hair (top) and Angel Face (bottom). Writer Biba Adams lost multiple family members during the pandemic (Rolling Stone Magazine).
just know the
challenges it entails.
Apply to as many
important. With a
contract, you could
and gallery shows as
at least say, ‘Hey, you
possible. The entry fees
promised to do this.’
can be expensive, but
It’s harder to run away
if you cannot afford to
from the agreement.”
participate, that’s OK.
Editorial photographer and collage
An Anthology of the Black Midwest. In the last
artist, RACHEL ELISE THOMAS
year alone, Thomas’ images of demonstra-
(’19, Photography), transferred to CCS after
tions and pandemic life in the Midwest have
receiving her associate’s degree. During her
appeared in such publications as The New
with no entry fee.”
final year at the College, she was awarded the
York Times, Rolling Stone, The Belt, Vanity
Imre J. Molnar Artistic Achievement Award
Fair and The New Republic, among others.
especially, feel like
for Exceptional Merit (known colloquially
But it’s her photography-based collage
we’ve got to say yes to
as “Senior Select”). And, as history would
art exploring race, gender and personal
a lot of stuff because
“The day will come
have it — including a global pandemic and
history that reveals Thomas as a nuanced
of the opportunity.
when you are no
a summer of protest for racial and social
yet sharp-eyed documentarian of cultural
But you don’t have to
longer a student with
justice in 2020 — Thomas’ talents are now
history and representation.
say yes to everything.”
access to all of these
in high demand.
If anything, the global pandemic has laid
In 2018, she earned a Facing Change:
bare how precarious, and precious, life in
Documenting Detroit Fellowship and used her
America can be. As an independent artist
time in the mentorship program to develop a
during the most challenging social era in
“I love fellowships and
photo story about Detroit’s considerable, but
a century, this visionary photographer
not widely explored, Caribbean community,
emphasizes the importance of taking care
note: Thomas has been
“If you are a freelancer,
“Connected: Caribbean Culture in Detroit.”
of yourself and your business — striking a
it is your responsibility
During the early days of the COVID-19
delicate but necessary balance between
“Some people like to
to make sure you get
pandemic, Thomas partnered with NPR
making art and personal survival.
take the route where
paid! For every job you
affiliate WDET’s StoryMakers initiative,
“Reach out to editors and curators. Be very
they apply to a lot of
do, create and submit
producing a subtle but powerful visual and
open about it. I feel that a lot of my success
jobs. But that’s really
an invoice to your
audio diary of her parents during quarantine.
stems from being two steps ahead. I’m always
hard right now. If that’s
client. It’s imperative
And images from her undergraduate thesis
thinking about the future,” said Thomas.
the route you want to
that you stay on top
documenting the lives of asylum seekers in
“How soon you get back to them could mean
take, you should, but
of your finances.”
Detroit, “Seeking Asylum Through Freedom,”
the difference between getting what you
were recently published in Black in the Middle:
want or not.”
There are plenty of on-
[CCS’s] resources. Invest in yourself.”
USE YOUR POWERS FOR GOOD BAT M A N A N D WO N D E R WO M A N A R E N ’ T T H E O N LY S U P E R H E R O E S W E K N O W. H E R E ’S A SA M P L I N G O F CC S A LU M N I W H O S E CO N C E P T D E S I G N S, STO RY B OA R D S, CG I , P R O D U C T I O N D E S I G N S A N D M O R E H E L P B R I N G I CO N I C C H A R AC T E R S A N D B LO C K B U ST E R F I L M S TO L I F E .
BRANDON BARTLETT ’02, Entertainment Arts (The Amazing Spider-Man); SARAH BROMLEY ’14, Entertainment Arts (Black Panther); TIM FLATTERY ’87, Transportation Design (Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Batman, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, The Incredible Hulk); ED NATIVIDAD ’91, Illustration (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Aquaman, Suicide Squad); JAMES OXFORD ’90, Art Practice (Superman Returns, Suicide Squad, X-Men); FRANK SYNOWICZ ’06, Entertainment Arts (Transformers, The Amazing Spider-Man); JOY TIERNAN ’01, Entertainment Arts (X-Men: Apocalypse).
Eliya Jackson, Deannelys Corcino, Melissa Baptista, Breeana Walker, Cristina Lopez, Samantha Alvarado. Photography courtesy of Leeor Wild.
Thornhill has worked on footwear designs for Nike, Champion and adidas, across categories, countries and sports (border). 2020 — 2022 S.E.E.D. designers:
Cheresse Thornhill is growing good things at S.E.E.D. The two-year program for women of color just introduced “Superstar,” (bottom row, middle).
ALL ABOUT 12
promising young women of color in a unique, two-year footwear design program. CCS caught up with her to find out how she got there and why this is exactly where she wants to be. What is S.E.E.D.? The whole premise is to create new pathways into our industry for people who have been underserved. So, right now, that’s women in general. We focused
on women of color this year, but moving into next year, we’re going to be focusing on black women specifically.
Time and talent are crucial to success, but so
The program is a two-year paid opportunity. We have
is access to folks who challenge, inspire and
six designers right now. And they’re from all different
support each other. In industry, it’s called a
walks of life, between the ages of 19 and 24 when they
pipeline. In the community, it’s called fam.
started. The first year is all instruction, and year two
CHERESSE THORNHILL (’07, Product
is all internships within the brand. AfterJULY that, there’s 2019
Design) knows this well, as she is one of nearly
a full-time role [at adidas] waiting for them to
20 African American and Latinx CCS Product
complete the program.
Design alumni who bonded over their passion for footwear and now number among the top
Talk about your community at CCS and mentorship.
designers at the biggest brands.
When I started at CCS in 2003, footwear design was
Thornhill arrived at CCS in the early 2000s,
still seen as fashion, not product design. But when I
before footwear became a $60 billion-a-year
got there, there was already a pipeline of talent that
industry and certainly before anyone knew
I could tap into: DUANE LAWRENCE was there,
how influential women designers could be.
ROMMEL VEGA was there, I met JASON MAYDEN
A Nike internship before her senior year
there — all designers of color, black and brown people.
turned, after graduation, into a full-time role
And we had such a family atmosphere. SABRINA
as a footwear designer, where for nearly a
NELSON [Admissions Counselor and alumna],
decade she created shoes across multiple
was a big part of helping to form that pipeline for us.
categories, countries and sports — including
She took care of us. When I got to Nike, I reached out
the Jordan 16.5, worn by Dwyane Wade, and
to ASHLEY COMEAUX. When Ashley started
the Zoom KB 24, worn by Kobe Bryant.
working at Nike, she reached out to PRECIOUS
But community-minded Thornhill wanted
HANNAH. YouTube didn’t exist yet. Instagram wasn’t
to give other designers of color the same
around. You had to foster community, you had to be
mentorship she had received. After working
mentored in order to connect and learn and grow.
on her master’s degree in Instructional
My purpose is to help educate, mentor and create community, and then use my voice and advoca te in these spaces an d in the rooms with the people wh o are making the decis ions.
Design and Technology, she launched her
Any words of advice to design students?
own design consultancy. Thornhill didn’t
There’s more access to information now than ever
know at the time exactly how the degree
before. Who’s the best and at the top of their industry?
would fit into her future plans. But when she
Reach out to them on social media. Don’t be afraid to
heard from D’Wayne Edwards about Pensole
connect with other people, because it’s all about
Academy’s partnership with adidas on the
community and being there for each other. And share
School for Experiential Education in Design
your work. You shouldn’t feel like you won’t ever
(S.E.E.D.), it soon became clear.
create anything better than what you’re doing now.
Design director at S.E.E.D. in Brooklyn
Share your work, ask for feedback, look to connect
since January 2020, Thornhill mentors
and help mentor other people.
A COLOR PALETTE PROVIDES
A DEFINED TONE
A VO I C E
PLENT Y OF OPTIONS TO PL AY
IS A BRAND’S PERSONALIT Y.
WITH AS YOU CREATE DESIGNS AND OTHER WORK . Follow your heart.
Built for your life with built-in GPS
IT’S HOW A BRAND CHOOSES
Your pace, your music, your texts, your wallet—all built into the new Versa 3.
TO COMMUNICATE AND IT’S THE
PRODUCT EXPERIENCES ARE CAREFULLY DESIGNED
A LO O K
USING ELEMENTS OF
REL ATIONSHIPS .
A BRAND’S LOOK .
What they are: Shapes that act as guides and make connections between data.
Glyphs IMAGERY AND ICONS HELP TELL THE STORY What they are:
Each symbol accents a feature Our look
or provides some extra direction.
Why we use them: Shapes that act as guides and
OF A PRODUCT, SHOW OFF ITS FEATURES AND Glyphs REL ATE TO THE PEOPLE WHO USE THEM . layouts. Plus, they’re oreyeprovides some extra direction. They work like punctuation make connections between data.
and add emphasis Each to different symbol accents a feature
catching and more fun than a What they are: Why we use them: Shapes that act as guides and They work like punctuation make connections between data. make connections between data. How we use them: and add emphasis to different Each symbol accents a feature Each symbol accents a feature Sparingly. Less is more because layouts. Plus, they’re eyeor provides some extra direction. or provides some extra direction. we never want to take away and frommore fun than a catching the content, products CTA.roller. freeor foam Why we use them: Why we use them: Those always take priority—the They work like punctuation They work like punctuation glyph is just the cherry How on wetop. use them: and add emphasis to different and add emphasis to different Sparingly. Less is more because layouts. Plus, they’re eyelayouts. Plus, they’re eyewe never want to take away from catching and more fun than a catching and more fun than a the content, products or CTA. free foam roller. free foam roller. Those always take priority—the What they are:
free foam roller. Shapes that act as guides and
A PROMISE LOGOS, ICONS AND T YPOGRAPHY ARE A BRAND’S MOST
O R : H OW TO S C R A P
VALUABLE ASSETS .
T H E O L D P L A N , ST U DY A RT
How we use them: Sparingly. Less is more because we never want to take away from the content, products or CTA. Those always take priority—the
A N D TOTA L LY M A K E I T WO R K .
glyph is just the cherry on top.
glyph is just the cherry on top. How we use them:
Sparingly. Less is more because we never want to take away from the content, products or CTA. Those always take priority—the glyph is just the cherry on top.
WRITERS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
After a summer in Italy during her
was followed by stints at PopSugar,
junior year of high school — a season
where Lehnert helped build the media
of art and architecture and a culture
company’s entire creative team, and
far removed from her own — Plymouth,
Glassdoor, where she came in as their
Michigan, native and Fitbit Creative
first ever creative director and left
Director MARISA LEHNERT
having rebranded the company. “It just
(’03, Advertising Design) knew that
became obvious to me that branding
A LOT G O E S I N TO B U I L D I N G A CO M PA N Y ’S
CREATE STORIES BRAND BOOK
B R A N D I D E N T I T Y. M A R I SA L E H N E RT
PRODUCTS AND EXPERIENCES WITH
S H O WS U S H O W I T ’S D O N E AT F I T B I T.
she wanted to pursue a career in art.
and building brands was something
Upon her return, Lehnert studied art
I was good at.”
exclusively in her senior year and
As creative director of design at
hasn’t looked back.
Fitbit, Lehnert manages on a larger
Once at CCS, she fell in love with art
team of 30+ designers, copywriters,
WHO MAKE A
direction for films but life, again, had
photographers and project managers
BRAND THE BEST
other plans. When the department’s
and — in addition to her passion for
IT CAN BE .
focus changed to advertising, Lehnert
collaboration and mentorship — she
discovered that she not only had a
credits CCS with giving her the chops
passion for branding but also a knack
to do it. “The things that I learned
for it. “CCS changed my life,” Lehnert
at the College were absolutely
explained. “Just the idea of visual
foundational for building world-
meaning and the messaging behind
renowned brands; now in my career,
forms — I really got into the psychology
I’m so cross-functional. We function
of brand identity and color theory as
like our own ad agency.
well. The color theory classes at CCS
And to be able to jump from a
BRAND VALUES .
A STO RY
THE WAY WE MOVE AND BRING AMAZING EXPERIENCES
A C U LT U R E
AND HEALTH .
The diamond MISSION TO EMPOWER
While the full logo lockup is
available in black or white only, we dial things up when the
diamond is used alone.
were unbelievable. And then, yeah.
television shoot to packaging press
I went straight into advertising.”
check to working with web developers
The main color duo combines a
A role as an art director at
in Budapest — you just have to under-
Trail Run background, but there
advertising legend Ogilvy & Mather
stand how every channel works.”
opt for one of the other options
classic Fitbit Teal diamond with a
may be instances where you shown on this page.
THEY MAY BE .
P R I M A RY
S EC O N DA R
LO O K
U S E YO U R S E N S ES A RT A N D D E S I G N D O N ’ T STO P.
HORACIO HALL (’15, Illustration), BRANDON FRAZIER and AIGBE
“Genusee’s goal is to upcycle single-use plastic into products that have more purpose. Each pair of glasses upcycles 15 water bottles and gives 1% back to the community.” EVAN SPARROW (’20, Fashion Accessories
C R E AT I V I T Y D O E S N ’ T STO P.
Design) designed a series of eyewear for Flint-based
N O M AT T E R W H AT M E D I U M YO U
in Flint, Michigan, from the abundance of recycled
IDAHOS, both (’16, Illustration), are founding partners of the global indie-animation streaming service FIYAH.tv. Their customized service, which has taken off since the onset of the global pandemic, offers its viewers free access to hundreds of hours of animation sourced from around the world, giving indie animators the opportunity to capture audiences to which they might never have gained access.
optical manufacturer, Genusee. The eyewear is made plastic water bottles as a result of the Flint water crisis.
ERICK CARLSON (‘02,
LOV E O R W H E R E YO U A R E , T H E N E E D
Entertainment Arts), founder of
TO LO O K , L I ST E N , G R OW A N D L E A R N —
Charlie, has been exploring new
the virtual reality startup Echo ways to bring people together
TO C R E AT E E X P E R I E N C E S — A R E N OT
beyond the physical. Using VR, Echo Charlie creates unique
J U ST W H AT YO U D O B U T C E N T R A L TO
experiences for automotive brands and research insti-
W H O YO U A R E A N D H OW YO U WA N T
tutions, transporting users
TO I N T E R AC T W I T H T H E WO R L D.
out of their home office and
CC S D O E S N ’ T STO P E I T H E R.
best tells the story needing
into any environment that to be told.
“I titled this jacket ‘Black Movement.’ It’s like an armor I made for myself. It deals with the movements, leaders and the strong voices within the Black and Black LGBTQ communities that I look up to.” Levi’s commissioned SERGE GAY JR.
Join us in Fall 2021 and use all your senses
(’06, Illustration) to create a custom Trucker
to make great art and design. Here.
Jacket that symbolizes the important fight for black and gay rights, which will live in their permanent collection.
L I ST E N
General Motors Creative Designer GARY RUIZ (‘03, Transportation Design) and Lead Exterior Designer BRIAN MALCZEWSKI (‘12, Transportation Design) played a key role in the design of the all-new 2022 GMC HUMMER EV. This HUMMER will be the first open-air, all-electric “supertruck” with zero emissions and zero limits that can go almost anywhere, on- or off-road, with a nearly silent ride.
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WANT IN? If CCS looks like the place for you, visit our website or drop us a line on social media, and let’s talk about the next four years.
COVER ARTWORK Still from Pixar Animation Studios’ Soul. Jay Shuster (‘93, Product Design) and Don Crum (‘94, Product Design). At the end of the film, a kicker line appears. It reads “…and in homes at least six feet away from each other throughout the Bay area.” The line is a nod to the work that was done on the film during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The College for Creative Studies is a nonprofit, private college authorized by the Michigan Education Department to grant bachelor’s and master’s degrees. CCS is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Documents regarding accreditation are available in the Executive Office upon formal request. The College for Creative Studies subscribes to the principle of equal opportunity in its employment, admissions, educational practices, scholarship and loan programs, and other schooladministered programs, and strives to provide an educational environment and workplace free from unlawful harassment or discrimination. Discrimination, including harassment, because of age, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, physical attributes, marital or familial status, disability or any other characteristic protected by law is strictly prohibited.