10th annual Portfolio Day for graphic design students -- and alumni

Graphic design students don’t have to wait for their job interviews to receive constructive feedback from people who are tops in their field.

The 10th Portfolio Day at spring semester’s end showcased work by 13 communication art and design students to more than 80 design professionals and served as a reunion for alumni now working in agencies, companies and nonprofit settings. As part of their graduation requirements, students displayed and discussed logos, ads, publications, beverage labels, posters, brand guideline standards, campaign materials, packaging and business cards – even cookies emblazoned with graphic design.

More than 70 percent of the program graduates work in the design profession, while others are pursuing graduate studies, according to Leslie Friesen, Power Creative designer in residence at UofL. Fifteen students are admitted each year and most participate in a co-op or part-time design-related job as they work toward their bachelor of fine arts degree through the Hite Art Institute.

Two years after her own Portfolio Day, Kenmark Group graphic designer Tess Tooker returned to the Cressman Center for Visual Arts to check out current student work. The Louisville-based optical company asked her for an interview after seeing her designs there. “It really worked out for me,” Tooker said. 

Also at the event, visitors could peek at materials developed during Friesen’s “Design for Public Issues” class, which involved many of those graduating seniors working as a team for this year’s client – UofL’s energy-saving Sustainability Initiative. Last year the class developed materials and a graphic identity campaign for The Academy @ Shawnee, a Louisville public school; when Tooker enrolled in the class, the teams worked with several different nonprofit agencies.   

“It was great working with a client, hearing what they want and need,” Tooker said. “It really prepares you for real life and what’s to come.”

For Joni Warren Sato, senior designer with New York City design firm CMYK + White, it was a trip down memory lane to the first Portfolio Day shortly before her 2003 graduation.

“Coming back, it’s great to see how far the program has come,” Sato said. “The students are producing high-quality stuff.” She caught up with graphic design faculty member Steve Skaggs and Friesen, remarking that their students succeed “especially if you have great mentors and you really pay attention.”

An annual visitor is 1969 history alumnus and Welch Printing executive Bob Gaeta, who created and underwrites the BoB (Best of the Best) Awards given to three students secretly judged and selected during Portfolio Day. “I love their work and love to encourage them,” Gaeta said. This year’s winners were Mallory Smith, Patrick Hill and Brett Thurman.

These students participated. Click their names to see their work online.

Jessica Bellamy
Madison Buckingham
Emily Crawford
Patrick Hill
Laura Howard
Maggie Jacobson
Kenzie Klingenberg
Matt Newton
Chelsea Niemeier
Ben Sears
Hayley Smith
Mallory Smith
Brett Thurman