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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.

4

5

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).

GET IT

just know the

IN WRITING.

challenges it entails.

“Contracts are

Apply to as many

important. With a

fellowships, residencies

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

KNOW YOUR

line/virtual exhibitions

receiving her associate’s degree. During her

appeared in such publications as The New

WORTH .

with no entry fee.”

final year at the College, she was awarded the

York Times, Rolling Stone, The Belt, Vanity

“Black creators,

Imre J. Molnar Artistic Achievement Award

Fair and The New Republic, among others.

especially, feel like

OWN YOUR

for Exceptional Merit (known colloquially

But it’s her photography-based collage

we’ve got to say yes to

STUFF.

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

APPLY, APPLY,

Documenting Detroit Fellowship and used her

America can be. As an independent artist

APPLY.

time in the mentorship program to develop a

during the most challenging social era in

“I love fellowships and

MIND YOUR

photo story about Detroit’s considerable, but

a century, this visionary photographer

residencies.” Editorial

MONEY.

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

awarded several.

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).


2

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

12

on women of color this year, but moving into next year, we’re going to be focusing on black women specifically.

JULY 2019

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

COMMUNITY

12

JULY 2019

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

BRAND BOOK

PRODUCT EXPERIENCES ARE CAREFULLY DESIGNED

BACKBONE

A LO O K

Our look

43

Glyphs

OF FORMING

USING ELEMENTS OF

REL ATIONSHIPS .

A BRAND’S LOOK .

Glyphs

Our look

43

Glyphs

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

Glyphs

Our look

or provides some extra direction.

Glyphs

43

43

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.

Glyphs

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:

BRAND BOOK

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.

BRAND BOOK

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

THAT CONNECT

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

TO CELEBRATE

hasn’t looked back.

Fitbit, Lehnert manages on a larger

THE CUSTOMERS

DESIGN

Once at CCS, she fell in love with art

team of 30+ designers, copywriters,

WHO MAKE A

INNOVATIVE ,

direction for films but life, again, had

photographers and project managers

BRAND THE BEST

WEARABLE PRODUCTS

other plans. When the department’s

and — in addition to her passion for

IT CAN BE .

THAT CHANGE

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 BOOK

BRAND VALUES .

MAKE TIME

A STO RY

THE WAY WE MOVE AND BRING AMAZING EXPERIENCES

A C U LT U R E

Our look

BELIEVE

Logo

TO FITNESS

IN THE

AND HEALTH .

COMPANY’S

The diamond MISSION TO EMPOWER

A PRODUCT

While the full logo lockup is

AND INSPIRE

available in black or white only, we dial things up when the

CUSTOMERS TO

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

ACHIEVE THEIR

classic Fitbit Teal diamond with a

HEALTH AND

FITNESS GOALS,

may be instances where you shown on this page.

WHATEVER

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.

LEARN

INSPIRE

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.

Profile for College for Creative Studies

CCS Spring 2021 Alumni Magazine  

CCS Spring 2021 Alumni Magazine  

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