2011 d*s scholarship: undergrad finalists + voting!

by Grace Bonney

Today I am thrilled and excited to announce the finalists for the 2011 D*S Scholarship for Undergraduate Students. After days of narrowing down hundreds of applicants to these top 10, I was again reminded of how much excitement, talent and promise exists in the students who are destined to become our next great generation of artists and designers. Because this crop of applicants was so talented, I chose to feature 40 photos from the group, as well as linking to their external portfolios (so you can see all of their work) and include a brief piece of their artist statement. To allow these students to get their fair share of screen time, I’ve decided to delay the graduate student voting until tomorrow at 1pm. So today these will be the only finalists posted.

This year’s finalists are spread out across the country, from down south in Louisiana to the Pacific Northwest. Their majors are varied, but their talent is strong across the board. They’ve taken the time to share their work with us and I hope you’ll take the time to view their work, read their statements, check out their websites and cast your vote for the strongest work. It was an honor to look through so much young talent and I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to enter this year- I feel incredibly hopeful for the next wave of artists we’ll be fortunate enough to cover.

I also wanted to thank this year’s sponsors who are making these no-strings-attached financial awards possible: West Elm, Perigee Books (A division of Penguin), and Artstream.

Please note: All applicants are listed in alphabetical order below. There will be four prizes awarded, which will be determined by voting. The voting order below will randomize with each new viewer- you must click on the poll to register a vote. Comments will not count towards the total. Voting for undergraduate applicants will end Wednesday, December 21st at 10pm EST (East Coast).

View all 10 Undergraduate Applicants and VOTE after the jump…

Carly Ayres, Undergraduate at RISD (Industrial Design)

Carly describes her work as: “An undergraduate at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), I am completing a BFA in Industrial Design. What is most unique about my focus in design, started back in high school with interests and proclivities that led me to apply to RISD. Math and science had always been my fortes. I loved being given a set of problems, relying on my own thought processes and skills, give or take a pencil and calculator, and being able to solve them. There was such an immense feeling of satisfaction in finding the answer, an answer derived through my own thoughts. This focus on math and science led me to apply to ten engineering schools throughout the country with plans of studying mechanical engineering. In this field, I figured I would be able to solve challenging problems all the time and improve the lives of people who utilized my work. I applied to twelve schools altogether; two were art schools. I had taken several classes each year in art, considered it a good hobby, but didn’t see the practical application beyond that, and neither did my high school career counselor. By some odd collision of circumstances, I stumbled upon the field of Industrial Design a few weeks before portfolios were due to RISD and Pratt. I applied immediately. Industrial Design seemed to synthesize my passion for math and science with my interest in art and design. like to think of Industrial Design as “Problem Solving and Inventing for Real Life Applications,” which appealed directly to that love I had in solving problems and finding solutions. RISD promised to not only instruct me about design and making, but to teach me a new way of thinking, to think critically as a designer, that is the best thing I have gleaned from the school thus far. While my “left brain” approach to design is something that I feel differentiates me from my peers, integration of it into my work is what I believe now makes my focus unique. Most of my work revolves around material research and exploration, as I try to utilize new materials and processes in each of my projects. This almost scientific approach to my projects leads to many new discoveries as I develop and test different experiments in my work. ”

See more of Carly’s work here.

Ryan Bush, Undergraduate at Portland State (Graphic Design)

Ryan describes his work as: “Honestly, I think my work in graphic design is kind of at an in-between. I have a hard time choosing a style, whether it is more illustration based, something handmade, or even clean and simple solutions to problems. I guess what I would say sets my work apart from others is how personal I try to make the work on some level, rather then how unique it is visually/aesthetically. With each project I try to immerse myself as much as I can in the given subject matter – or in some cases focus on a particular vessel to execute my solution. It is because of this mentality (which can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth) that I have grown to love all types of design and execution. I have learned several ways to bind books, how to build a website, how to properly photograph my work, as well as learning to screen print, and use various mediums such as water color, pen and ink, vector illustration and so much more. This is what makes your question so difficult to answer simply. Once I started learning about all of the different applications that design can influence, it has only made things more complicated (in terms of defining an area of expertise). I could go on about how I feel that all creatives should be this way, but I digress. Now, as I approach my final year of school at Portland State, I find myself heavily invested in the possibilities behind independent film, or more specifically documentary work. As I continue to follow my interests, I am beginning to realize how interwoven the creative industry really is, and I want to be apart of nearly everything that I can get involved with. At this point, the future is a complete mystery to me. Things have changed so much since I started school, and I’m eager to see where this industry takes me.”

See more of Ryan’s work here.

Justin Carlisle-Angrand, Undergraduate at CCA (Graphic Design)

Justin describes his work as: “Through out the years I have been experimenting with different styles and subject matters. Recently I have gotten back into hand drawn work, working with contrast and abstract forms. I also create digitally based collage work. I’m part of this creative collective called ‘ontask family’ that originated in high school, but it is now growing into something bigger than expected. The members of the group inspire me to create everyday. Past Psychedelia artwork highly influences and inspires me also, but at the same time I don’t try to to recreate what has been done in the past. Current local bay area graffiti artist like GATS also gives me inspiration with his creative character based style. Another person who has made me want to draw more is the artist Mike Giant.”

See more of Justin’s work here.

Steve Ebert, Undergraduate at PSU (Graphic Design and Economics)

Steve describes his work as: “My work and current focus are unique in that I have increasingly been striving to translate graphic elements into a more 3-dimensional realm. Recently this has involved the documentation of the creation of a new studio and printmaking space, and the issue of how to best use and functionally design a somewhat small and oblong floor space to fit my needs. I also have begun a new series of 3-dimensional wood-crafted plaques to celebrate the emphasis and beauty of different punctuation marks from various typefaces (my personal favorites are the asterisk and ampersand). My interest in the asterisk has also spawned an ongoing series of projects inspired by the asterisk’s role of delineating useful information (hence the name of my website). Useful information is circumstantial; what is useful to one person in a given time and situation may not be useful to another, or may not be useful in another time and circumstance. I feel that it is the role of graphic designers to determine what information is useful and pertinent ain each given project, and then decide what medium and in what way that information can be presented to produce the highest level of understanding. As I progress as a designer I would like to continue to examine this conundrum of useful information, to better improve myself as a designer and a person, but also to find fun and interesting ways to play off of what is useful and what is not.”

See more of Steve’s work here.

Leah Goren, Undergraduate at The New School (Illustration)

Leah describes her work as: “I am an illustrator, and my work focuses on textile and surface pattern design. I love to draw girls, flowers, patterns, clothing, and other nice things. I have always felt as if there is enough harshness and commentary out there, and I’d like my work to be a break from that. I like to make things that are decorative and nice to look at. Aside from patterns and fabric, my other illustration work includes portraits, object drawings, and narrative. While traditional editorial illustration is emphasized in school, I’ve never been drawn to it. I prefer to create a mood through line and color, rather than symbolic imagery. Because I’m in school, most projects I do are either self-motivated or for an assignment. They usually aren’t structured to have a finished outcome, beyond the confines of the painted paper. I always try to find where each piece will fit into the world, as an image or object people can interact with. This is what draws me to textiles. People love things they can wear, and putting my images on clothing or bags makes them instantly accessible. When I begin I piece, its content is shaped by the object or experience I want it to become.”

See more of Leah’s work here.

Corbin Lamont, Undergraduate at PSU (Graphic Design)

Corbin describes her work as: “I enjoy experimenting with a variety of mediums and bringing them into my design digitally. On one project I could be doing paper cut-outs, drawing and painting then bringing it all into the computer. I tend to exhaust numerous techniques before settling on a particular style, I do this because I want my piece to reflect it’s audience more than it reflects myself. I am very interested in the ways that people interact with graphic design, how it intersects with their life and how it can be purposeful to their life. I continually push myself to make work that speaks to the human condition. I do not see graphic design as a means of advertisement but a way of creating purposeful art that interacts with other humans daily— a healthy mix of problem solving and social practice.”

See more of Corbin’s work here.

Alyssa McNamara, Undergraduate at NC State (Textile Design)

Alyssa describes her work as: “I am a fiber artist. My work is almost entirely generated by hand. I feel that my art is unique for my generation because of my meticulous use of hand sewing techniques. I use a variety of skills from my “fibers toolbox” to produce unconventional objects. These techniques include dyeing, bead embroidery, weaving, knitting, and stitching. I create interactive art to be touched and/or worn. I develop work to please the eye. My design process is extremely meticulous and meditative. I feel that my meditative process is visible in my final projects and viewers are attracted to the calming qualities of my construction and motifs.”

See more of Alyssa’s work here.

Nick Missel, Undergraduate at Kansas City Art Institute (Sculpture)

Nick describes his work as: “I would describe my style as fast minimal. The interest in the human interaction with my sculpture has been a very important element, and through this interaction it activates the work. Wanting to explore this interaction, it led me to the creation of furniture. Through this medium people were able to interact with the chairs, activating them through sitting. The force of sitting was exerted through the participant onto the chairs, and the chairs react to the exerted force. The movement that goes into the process of making, from steam bending to the cnc router, is suspended though the materials that have been altered.
I use both new and old world technologies in the process of the manipulation of these materials. Using digital programs to create elements, I then shape and join these elements through handcraft. Taking the materials out of their natural or manufactured state I am bending, wrapping, or molding them around different jigs. These processes suspend the exerted force, through the created form. This has led me to create furniture that reacts to the force of interaction with the human body.”

See more of Nick’s work here.

Benedict Moyer, Undergraduate at Red River College (Graphic Design)

Benedict describes his work as: “My work is a cumulation of my different life experiences and interests. I try to include some aspect of my life in all the work that I do, wether that influence is from my background in graffiti, my love for screen printed and other hand printed methods, music, bicycling etc. In most of my work I try to blend traditional and digital medias, usually hand drawing something then working with it as raw as its drawn into a digital piece.”

See more of Benedict’s work here.

Jordan Vidrine, Undergraduate at University of Louisiana (Industrial Design)

Jordan describes his work as: “For my product design projects, I have tried to focus on simple problems that have simple solutions that havent been thought of before. I approach design in a sporadic way at first, with brainstorming. This usually leads me to many crazy ideas that I need to simplify in order to solve the problem correctly. I am a very open minded designer and do not like to take the most common approach when it comes to creating new ideas.”

See more of Jordan’s work here.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Suggested For You


  • Steve Ebert is a talented and creative designer who would benefit greatly from this scholarship.

  • How will we ever decide?? The finalists are all so talented! I feel a surge of hope for the future.

  • Steve Ebert. Destined to do things.
    Dudes been putting out dope work for years. Passionate, motivated, and has a track record for creating positive working relationships with anyone he’s collaborated with.

  • Jordan Vidrine had me the minute I saw that cord organizer (the very bottom picture). I obsess about not seeing cords in my house!!! :o)

  • All fab! Leah’s work speaks to me especially as I am also taking an illustration route towards textile design.

  • Had to cast my vote for Alyssa McNamara, the textiles are so, so lovely. Then, I look closer and find out she’s at my alma mater :)

  • I can’t figure out how to vote. Is my page not loading correctly? Did I not read carefully enough and consequently don’t realize that voting is not open yet or already closed?!

    Also, I appreciate you organizing and funding this scholarship. I think it’s a fantasitc way to support the community you are involved with. Thank you!

  • Nevermind the question part of my last comment. For some reason the survey buttons weren’t loading, but they are now. I see radio buttons I can click.

    My appreciation for the scholarship still stands.

    • sis

      no design flaw- it’s a poll at the bottom of the page. just keep scrolling or hit refresh if your browser blocked it. we’ve gotten a ton of votes so far so i’m pretty sure it’s working.


  • Lots of talent this year. My vote goes to Nick Missel for his designs and talent.

  • I’ve watched Alyssa McNamara grow and flourish the past four years at NC State College of Design, creating breathtaking textiles and beadwork that continue to stop me in my tracks. Lord knows what she’ll do if given this opportunity, she’s one of the most talented and hard working ladies I know. My vote goes to her and yours should too!

  • Very inspirational and vibrant work. The world will embrace the unique prespectives and expressions of thought. Thank you for sharing and following your passion to bring more light to all of us!

  • Justin Carlisle-Angrand beautiful work. You are very talented and creative. Good Luck! Xo

  • I like Carly’s thought process and ability to formulate a concise product……..I also like the fact that her outcome is based on the premise of helping others to simplify their life in this not so simple world…….

    Nice job!

  • Beautiful work Justin. Your art work is inspiring.
    All of the artisit do wonderful work. KUDOS!!

  • It was a toss up between Carly and Justin for me but I had to vote for Carly cause she went to my alma matar (go risd)– but this was truly a great bunch! Fantastic work all around. Loved Leah’s work as well. She has a great hand, I’m sure she’ll go far.

  • Great variety within the contestants… such a difficult decision! I enjoy Jordan Vidrine’s work–his designs allow the user to contribute to personalizing their experience with the product. (Speaker and power strip are both custamizable to fit individual needs)

  • Carly, great job! I love your combination of technical design and creativity. Great things await you!

  • Great collection of work! VERY HARD to decide… but I’m going for Ryan Bush. His site highlights other interesting projects: video and children’s illustration. very cool.

  • Fabulous concepts exciting displays, my vote goes to Carly Ayres!
    Thanks for sharing and encouraging this talent.

  • Wow, Steve Ebert’s work is truly genious. You get my vote, and really deserve this scholarship!

  • I vote for Alyssa McNamara – She worked with us at Lantal Textiles as an intern and she is fantastic as an Artist/Desinger. Good job Alyssa!!

  • This is great! I love to review the students work and share their projects with my classes. There must be a tremendous amount of work involved in getting this scholarship together. It is wonderful to see students getting help from people who love design and can offer them a chance to get some attention.


  • Oh, somehow I missed this, so I’m glad you linked back to it from the graduate set. Great work here too. I thought several folks were on par, doing high quality, relevant stuff. Again, would love to be able to vote for more than one. It was pretty hard to make my decision.

  • I wonder if I’m the only one that feels a little uncomfortable with this competition…Not with the thought behind it, nor with the talent (all of the finalists are amazing), but with the fact that the readers are allowed to choose. I love to look, but would never consider myself well-versed in really knowing the intricacies of design or of what is truly ‘new’. I don’t mean to offend any readers; I know many people visiting this site work in fields within art and design. However, scholarships are important (especially now when jobs and school funding are harder to come by) and leaving such a choice up to the viewers/readers seems odd. I feel like maybe your DesignSponge team would be more qualified to handle such a decision. With that said, I know that the applicants are aware of this process when they apply. I don’t mean to imply that it is unfair in any way.

    Again, I don’t mean to offend anyone! Just sharing a thought….perhaps I’m alone in this.

    Best of luck to all the finalists! All the work is stunning!

    • megan

      i appreciate your feedback, but there’s a very distinct reason i allow readers to make the final decision. first, i’m the one who narrows down the 500+ applicants in each category to the final 10, so i feel strongly that i’m picking people that have the most potential, both from an artistic standpoint and from a standpoint of who will do best in this blog community.

      the reason i feel strongly about the readership voting from there is two-fold:

      1. frankly, the readership is a major part of the reason this scholarship is even possible in the first place. i funded the first scholarship with my own money, but for the past few years we’ve had sponsors cover the majority of the prize money. those sponsors are interested in being involved because of our readership. so i think if they’re driving traffic and that’s driving advertisers to want to give students money, they deserve a voice.

      2. the public polling means anyone, not just “established” art critics or whoever, can vote. i’ve been on the board of several juried competitions and i can tell you from experience- they aren’t always the best people to vote. this is a highly educated and artistically involved (a very large percentage of our audience has attended art school or works in the arts) readership so i think they’re incredibly well-suited to voice their opinion.

      there are a lot of scholarships on the market that have far more stringent rules and restrictions on both who can enter and what they can do with the money. i set up this scholarship because i think the face of young design is changing, and i think more than ever, our readership is in a place to understand that. they read dozens upon dozens of magazines and blogs and attend local art shows because they’re enthusiastic and would like to celebrate promising talent. and this scholarship is a great place to do that.


  • Great work by all but I voted for Alyssa McNamara. Love the nature-inspired fashions, especially the cabbage dress!

  • BENEDICT! I want prints of all of it. Even more impressed after looking at his website.

  • wowow! congrats everyone! keep building/bringing those ideas + renderings to life 3D-ers.

  • it was such a hard decision. i finally showed my boyfriend everything to get his input. my first instinct was also his, but i think when it got his “WHOA” on first glace, that really sealed the deal.

    thanks, grace, for doing this for years now–even when it pulled from your own funds. it’s amazing. the future is looking good.

  • WOW!! So much great work here! My fave is Leah Goren. I adore her illustrations and love the way they’re applied to her textiles.

  • Carly Ayres has an amazing future. I hope this scholorship is her next step. Regardless, she has an amazing future.

  • There is not a section to vote on my link. Please enter a vote for Steve Ebert. He is great and needs this scholarship! Thanks

  • Grace–I like your reasoning for letting the readers vote. I have no technical background, but as the old saying goes, I may not know art, but I know what I like. Also, my family members are very talented, and would have benefited from a gift such as this. Further, I have read at least some of the student’s remarks, and eliminated some on them. The ones I eliminated were the ones who used words no one but themselves would grasp. I like the down to earth comments of the artists, as to me they are the ones with passion. Like you said, the art community are usually not the best judges of what the public likes. I read your blog every morning, and consider it the highlight of the day. No others can touch it for happy design content. Thanks for doing it, and thanks for giving young artists and designers a foot up.

  • Bravo à Alyssa, magnifique et bon début dans le monde de la mode.
    On t’attend en Europe.

  • Congratulations to the 10 finalists. Through your example, I’m able to show my high school kids that hard work and pursuing your innate talents and abilities can get you somewhere. The fact that your work was the best of the best is an accomplishment in itself. Just making the cut is a resume-builder! And Grace, your private funding of the scholarship in the past is a kind act. Finding funding for the scholarship to continue into the future is commendable. Blessings to all represented!

  • Leah,
    Love the organic themes and color choices. Hope you get the scholarship.
    Linda J