2012 D*S Scholarship: Undergraduate Voting!

by Grace Bonney

This year’s undergraduate students represented a wide range of work and I was so excited to narrow the selections down from hundreds of talented artists to these amazing top 10. I hope you’ll enjoy viewing their work and choosing your favorite artists and designers for the award! Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter. xo, grace

Thanks again to O’More College of Design, West Elm, BRIKA and Parsons for generously donating this year’s awards


Finalists are listed in alphabetical order

Jenna Blazevich
Jenna is a graphic design student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work? “Pieces of communication design that have a sense of humor and appear to be the result of the curiosity of the designer are very inspiring to me. I’m very drawn to work that was made in periods of time where posters, packaging design and logotype design all had to be done by hand. I very much appreciate being fortunate enough to get an education that has thoroughly instructed me how to utilize the computer in design work, but starting with my pencil and paper will always be very important to me. The sciences and learning about how things work is extremely inspiring to me. I believe that having an elevated understanding of things of that nature has a very significant effect on the way I can go about visually communicating an idea. Marian Bantjes absolutely amazes me. Her work seems to come from a magical and inexplicable place in her brain, and she makes me want to push my work further than what seems easy or comfortable. Burlesque of North America is the reason that I came to a realization that graphic communication was what I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life. Their work is incredible and surrounding my workspaces with their prints makes me a much happier and more excited artist and designer. The bands Arcade Fire and Of Montreal make me feel like there could be no end to the things that I could design and create. When one is inspired by so many different time periods and forms of art, (as these two bands are), art-making really can be something that one can devote their entire life to. ”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “In five years I would absolutely love to be in a position where I am being sought out to make work both in my illustrative lettering style and in other styles that I have yet to discover that I will possess. I think often about how I may end up wanting to work more closely to the wedding industry because of how personal and important the work is to the client. I know that I am so much more interested in a line of work of that nature than in one of user interface design or advertising. The most essential thing for me will be making work that I love and am extremely proud of.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “I think that I should win this year’s scholarship because I believe that I have so much potential as an artist and designer. Every new form of art or design that I learn about, I become enamored with and it has its own individual effect on who I will become as an artist and designer. I have a remarkable work ethic and desire to complete every project that I start. Thinking about the work that I am going to make in my future excites me more than anything else could. The prize money would allow me to calmly begin to pay off my student loans upon graduation, while being able to financially support starting my own career in the design industry.”

Jennifer Bernstein
Jennifer is studying Printmaking, Material Art and Design at Ontario College of Art and Design. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “At the moment, I am really inspired by the opportunities in daily life that challenge me as an artist to interrupt the veneer of sameness. I am inspired by genuine moments of human interaction and sometimes vulnerability. I find inspiration from the moments in life that are often overlooked – the most extreme subtleties. I’m inspired by language and story-telling, and finding a way back to lost practices. Working within the framework of an institution can sometimes be a struggle, especially when artistic freedom is stifled. But I’ve been very fortunate to find a couple of very amazing mentors at school. One of my professors, Shannon Gerard has been a very big inspiration for me while studying. Our interests and goals are often very similarly aligned, and she constantly reminds me why I want to do what I am doing, and helps me find a way back to the things I hope to say and achieve in my practice. ”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “In 5 years I hope to be able to have my own small-run press. My partner and I have also started a business making homewares in ceramics, merging ceramics and printmaking to create functional pieces for everyday use. I’d like our business to continue to challenge me to find new ways of applying traditional printmaking methods to new materials. I would love to teach workshops to both adults and children. Knowing that printmaking is very much reliant on sharing equipment, I’m hoping to create some kind of collaborative studio with a few of my fellow grads after thesis. I’d like this space to encourage collaboration and also provide us with opportunities to consult and work on some exciting projects. I’ve always wanted to have illustrations in the New York Times! And I want to have a children’s book published. I’d like to be focused on my independent art practice while also continuing to make functional work, and I hope to be consistently showing work in various gallery spaces. There is a print studio in Finland where I would love to do an artist residency. Basically, in 5 years, I want to be able to support myself doing what I love. It is really my hope that I’ll be able to create the kind of job for myself that will enable me to wake up everyday and be creative and channel my talent into something that makes me genuinely happy. ”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “I wish I were in a position where I could be making more of the work I want to be making without stopping myself because of unrealistic material costs. If I were to win, the prize money would enable me to accomplish some of the projects I have been hoping to do for some time. I would use a portion of the money to buy screen-print materials to set up a workspace outside of school. Ideally, I’d like to be making investments in the more costly materials so that I can have access to printing equipment when school studio times are restricted, and also thinking ahead for after I graduate. In addition to the purchase of screenprint equipment, I’d use a portion to offset my everyday material costs like printmaking paper and japanese papers, polymer plates, copper for intaglio printing.”

Kelsie Conley
Kelsie is studying Printmaking and Drawing at VCU. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “Growing up attending DIY punk shows and events, the do-it-yourself ethos greatly influences my art making as well as my interest in printmaking. When I started making prints I was doing it in an academic context through intaglio and relief processes while at the same time screen printing shirts and patches for my friends bands or other projects made with thrift store frames and found screens. That contrast taught me a lot about accessibility of art, and how important it is. ”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “In five years I hope to be pursuing, or have finished, by mfa in printmaking as well as my mfa in creative writing. Ideally I would like to be working in a non-profit printmaking collective, similar to Studio 23 in Richmond, that is focused on community engagement as well as offering a space for artists to pursue their own work. Apprenticing under a Master Printmaker is definitely a dream of mine if I was lucky enough to get a chance to. ”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “Winning this year’s scholarship money would allow me to continue my education outside of the university. This summer I really want to take letterpress classes that are offered at a printmaking studio here in Richmond that my school does not offer. ”

Amber Esner
Amber is studying Illustration & Printmaking at the Cleveland Institute of Art. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “Some artist that inspire me: Rob Ryan, Keri Smith, Kate Bingaman Burt, Julia Pott, Chelsea Dirck, Harris Johnson, Daniel Johnston, Mike Mills, Steve (ESPO) Powers, Natalya Lobanova, + a bunch more artists. Some people in general that inspire me to keep working: Carly Bartel, Cara Mullinary, Mike Polk, Katie Johenning, Suzanne McGinness. The film BEAUTIFUL LOSERS: This film has inspired me in so many ways. It is really difficult to explain. I have probably pressed play to that movie over 130 times, but have only used my eyes to watch it maybe 3 times. I use it as my background sound while I make. So many great sentences, ideas, inspirations, & realizations have come from that film.
Life Situations: The fact that my parents moved away the minute I graduated high school evolved into me having a slight separation anxiety problem. This separation anxiety I realized was probably created from moving so much as a kid because both of my parent were in the navy. I feel that the need for me to keep in touch with people came from those situations. That is why a lot of my work involves staying in contact & involving others in my work. Getting cheated on/dumped. This situation sparked the idea of still wanting to love someone when you know you can’t or you shouldn’t. Even though these people are out out of your life they still have a hold on you. They set the template of love for you and now when ever you decide to love someone again, you will go through the entire relationship comparing it to the last. This subject inspires me greatly because it is the only way for myself and others to deal with the fact that it is possible for other humans to instantly stop loving one another. Situations that either make me extremely happy and/or sad are the feelings that have been inspiring me lately.
Street Art: After watching the film BEAUTIFUL LOSERS over & over, it gave me a new appreciation for street art & culture. The people who use the street as their canvas inspire me greatly. It is such a simple concept. As Barry McGee said in the best way possible, “A kid’s tag is a kid’s tag. It was communication in the simplest form. It doesn’t have any various trappings of the art world.” Doing street art gives you the possibility of communicating to a number of different people on so many levels. The power of street art is gained from perceived power, you know? You can look at something under a bridge and wonder what it is, then everyone starts talking about it and then the power is gained from perception. I’m inspired by the risk people take to get their message across to more than just one person. I find it admirable.
Culinary Art: I started working at a place called Lucky’s Cafe in Tremont, OH about 3 years ago. I currently do not work there, but after leaving I realized that that restaurant inspired me in such ways that I didn’t even notice while I was still there. Lucky’s tries its hardest to make everything from scratch. They even provide their own garden full of veggies & herbs that they use to cook with. Anyways, the fact that they take the time to brine their own corn beef, to make their own caramel sauce, to grow their own pickles to use in their very own thousand island dressing, oddly, has inspired my work greatly. I’ve come to see that things that are hand made are more appreciated. When you are creating from scratch people are more prone to appreciate you and your act because you didn’t take the quicker route. I find myself writing out or cutting out all of my own lettering for all of my projects instead of using typed fonts. Half of me does it because I know people get excited when they see it & then say, ‘You did that all by hand?”, but the other half does it because it just makes me happy in general. I love knowing that the marks I place on paper or a wacom tablet are mine & original.
Themes: Connection, interaction, relationships, story telling, love, memories, dislike, voyeurism, pattern, realization, change, + a bunch of themes that I haven’t even realized I’ve been creating about.”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “Professionally I see myself as a freelance illustrator/artist. Working for different places is more appealing to me than just being part of one thing. In five years I want to be making independently, working with a younger group of people and educating them on the art world, & hopefully, maybe, have a little store/gallery/coffee shop started with a group of close friend who are also artist & who are also passionate about the same things. ”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “I think I should win this year’s scholarship because I feel I’m a well rounded individual. Work wise I am capable of creating on many levels. I’m capable of making anything from realistic portraits in graphite; to silkscreening multiple post cards for a holiday sale; to branding & designing for a local fashion designer’s fashion show fund raiser; to photocopying & handing out zines composed of sweet things that boys have said; to sending a hand made, cut, & collaged letter to someone who is in need of a little cheering up. Another reason I think I should win is because I put honesty, heart & hard work into the things that I make. I feel art is more successful when the viewer can see the maker through the work. It gets my heart beating when I can tell that someone created something that they love & are proud of. I think my work has that certain aspect. Being nice works too. You can make mater pieces & make clever work, but if you aren’t nice & show a certain amount of passion for what you do, then that master piece will eventually start to lose the thing that got the viewer to love it in the first place. If I won I would use the prize money to continue my MAKING MAIL PROJECT. Buying envelopes, stamps, old books, pens, special papers, glue sticks, quirky things from the thrift store, zine making materials & art making materials in general can start to add up quickly. I would use the money to keep making things that are possible to send through the mail. By doing this I would be using the money to maintain the art of letter sending alive; keep people inspired & hopeful when they open their mail box; & help me see that there are people worth getting to know and staying connected with. ”

Amanda Hunter
Amanda is studying Painting at RISD. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “I am inspired by the ephemeral quality of paper and its embedded history. The archive of the fragments of history we collect and that we make, they are the residue of our lives as we move through time. They are the traces of what once was. I am interested in the understanding my place in time through the history that came before us. As Roland Barthes said that the history is before our existence?
As mentioned in the description of my work the mystery of these forgotten traces, these fragments that are witnesses to a past unknown to me completely fascinate and inspire me and the work that I produce. Through painting and art making I am able to investigate further and embed these found scraps into my own history of making. I have been working from found photographs and using old pieces of paper (example: newspapers of the 1950’s) in my work, but as I have moved through art school the concept and approach to the my materials of inspiration has gradually changed as I begin to think deeper and be more conscious of the historical fragments I am using. I know my work will always be changing but I feel that my love and the inspiration that I draw from the forgotten photographs, paper and residue of a time that once was will never be dismissed. ”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “At first I was not sure how to answer this question. I have recently been focusing on becoming a live in the present, enjoy the now kind of person, as I so easily get caught up and overwhelmed by the looming future of the unknown. But now I am in a place after having many discussions with my mother (my best friend) that I should find peace, as well as excitement in the unknown. There are so many possibilities for my future in the next 5 years that I do not know what will happen. Each day I wake up and have my coffee and go to the studio. As one of my painting professors once said when he was applying to grad schools and faced with rejection he once said that it was okay, because he knew no matter where he was whether in his hometown or another city, he was going to wake up, have his cup of coffee and head to the studio. That is how I feel, in 5 years I know that I will wake up, have my coffee and go to my studio. My love, excitement and desire to paint will never dissipate. I feed off of my paintings just as much as it is an outlet for myself (as confusing as that may sound). As of right now this is my vague idea of plans after graduating RISD. I hope to take some time off, possibly return home to spend time with my mom. It would be refreshing to have some time off from an academic environment and to see how my paintings change without the campus studios and 6 hour critiques. I love being in school, but I find a piece of mind in being out of the academic bubble and experiencing the outside real world (I will admit… kinda scary).
Career wise I do not know where I will end up and what I will be doing. I intend to travel and do some residency programs. Recently my mom and I have been toying with the idea of going into business together after I graduate. Together we would be refurbishing furniture and selling antiquities and our vintage finds. It would be an exciting ride after college and a good way to pay back student loans, but we will see. I know for sure that in 5 to 6 years I know I will be hungry to go back to school, I have a list of “Dream” schools I plan to apply to for my Masters. As I have gone through art school the goal has always been to be a professional studio artist and to experience the “Art World”. But who knows what will happen? I never expected myself to be at RISD when I was a junior in High School. I still have a year and a half left of RISD and for right now that is all I am focusing on. ”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “To win the scholarship would help to alleviate the burden of tuition costs. Every little cent counts as I have racked up a serious debt attending RISD, though it is a debt that I do not regret because the roller-coaster ride of experience has truly been priceless and has awakened me to so much more than I could anticipate from a state university. My mom and I made the decision that RISD was the right choice despite the ominous tuition total. To have the prize money would really help with material costs as I have begun to scale up my work greatly. The prize money would allow me to produce more work and to collect more material for inspiration. As I work as much as possible attending school full time and a crazy schedule of six hour studio classes, all the money of my paychecks goes to food and rent. To win the prize money would help not only me but my mom with expenses of being in art school. I hope that you will consider me for the scholarship as I feel great things are on the verge for my paintings, and everyday is a new adventure inside and outside of the studio. ”

Zack Ingram
Zack is studying Printmaking and Book Arts at MICA. You can see more of his work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “I’ve been looking to outsider artist Henry Darger for inspiration for years, as he’s a definitive example of an artist who makes work completely for himself, untouched by the trends and harsh critique of the art world. And while I do recognize that it serves as a primary catalyst for great contemporary artists of today, I love the sincerity and lack of restraint that his work holds. The landscape of home (natural and manmade) is a major source of influence in my work. I’m fascinated with every part of my tiny Mississippi hometown; I love visiting the swamp reserves across the delta, listening to blues music, researching its rich (although tragic) history and how it intertwines with my family’s past, as it had direct in involvement with the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s. My work is usually result of some inward reflection, a part of myself that needs to come forward through a tangible medium, an according space. ”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “In five years I hope to be working under (or working toward becoming) a master printer, or involving myself in some kind of cooperative, community program that promotes the education of print history and technique. More specifically, I’d like to move back to the south to share my excitement.
I hope that it happens within the next five years, but I want to start work towards an MFA, as I would ultimately like to teach on the college level. ”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “I’m a hardworking student with a lot of potential, and while I face financial hardships like many art students, I’m afraid that it could potentially inhibit my upcoming endeavors. This funding would allow my work to expand in scale and stability, it would keep me from holding back any reservesI may have with my upcoming thesis work. My ambition typically outweighs my wallet, but with this scholarship I would have absolutely nothing keeping me from making work that is truly unique.”

Melanie Kasten
Melanie is studying printmaking and fibers at UMKC. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “The most most predominant inspiration in my work is not only the traditional crafts of women throughout history, but specifically the women in my family. The women in my families history were very talented at sewing, crocheting/knitting, embroidery, weaving, upholstery, etc. I even have a relative that during the turn of the century (1890’s) was born with no arms and only 2 fingers, yet she was famous for her penmanship as well as sewing and crocheting. I even found newspaper clippings about her. Her and her husband and sons joined the circus during the dust bowl and she was known as “Lady Josephine” and people would pay for her to write her name. She was amazing in her day and I have found her to be an immense inspiration in my work. Every day I am inspired by her courage and persistence at being a useful part of society despite her disabilities. ”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “Professionally, I hope to be able to be doing what I love, both personal and commercial. I would ideally love to be creating my own style of work as a profession, however, the realistic side of me would rather be working as a design professional as part of a team while still being able to do my own work in my spare time. I have already had a career in the past that lasted over 8 years. What I learned from that experience is that I need to be doing something that I am passionate about.
In the long run, I hope to continue going to school and getting my masters degree so that I can teach at the college level because I love helping to inspire creativity.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “Of course I would love to say that I deserve it because I am very talented, however, I am sure that many of the people who are entering this scholarship competition are extremely talented. I only wish that I am chosen to help me with all of the costs that are entailed in attending college. Unlike many students in college now, they are getting help from their parents. I am having to pay my own way through college since I only receive so much money from grants and financial aid.
If I am so honored as to win this scholarship, I plan to put the money towards all of the insanely expensive materials required in being an art students. I try whenever possible to use good quality materials because sometimes when you use the low quality materials, you get a low quality outcome.”

Brie Sausser
Brie is studying Interior Architecture at California State Long Beach. You can see more of her work right here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “Nature is always a great source of inspiration for me. I love to hike, stroll down the beach and get inspired by textures, color palettes, and forms. I am lucky enough to live in California where nature is so diverse and I never cease to find new and exciting things to draw from in the hills and coastlines around me. Also, my classmates inspire and challenge me. Their creative capacities encourage me to stretch and further develop my own. ”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “In 5 years from now, I hope to be working in some sort of design or architecture firm (small, medium or large), gaining invaluable experience and knowledge necessary to become a successful designer and businesswoman in my future. I hope to work with all types of professionals (interior designers, architects, contractors, graphic designers, etc.) in order to learn from them and discover where I will fit in best within the professional world. I hope to maintain an open mind when approaching every opportunity and see it as something to learn from. Someday I hope to live in a house that I designed and built! ”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “I feel that I am worthy of winning this year’s scholarship contest because I am extremely hard working, dedicated and passionate about design and creativity. My passion is what drives me to give endless amounts of time and effort to creating and design. I feel that I could really benefit from the scholarship money because equipment and supplies are very costly and burdensome. Moreover, I would be over to moon to have the financial ability to study abroad! Studying abroad has always been financially out of reach for me, and it would be so tremendous to have that opportunity. I dream of seeing all of the extraordinary architecture around the world!”

Dominique Savidge
Dominique is studying Textile Design at Philadelphia University. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “I love looking for new and upcoming artists. They always inspire me the most. But, I love to pull inspiration ideas from the world around me, architecture, modern art, natural elements, world issues…”

Where do you hope to be in five years?” “I hope to me designing for an apparel company, preferably in a print design position. I also want to travel the world! ”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “I believe I should win because I am a strong and hardworking designer. I am dedicated in everything I do and I believe by work will bring joy to many people. The money would be contributed to my brand collection. It would be a great start in helping me succeed in the future. ‘

Claire Danielle Sherriff
Claire is studying Applied Arts metal and silversmithing at De Montfort University in the UK. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “Initially I used my inspiration as a form of therapy by choosing fear. This allowed me to be able to discuss, with my peer group, the way I felt and this helped me to overcome what had become a huge obstacle in my life. Now that I feel confident and feel I can deal with my previous issue, I have started to take inspiration for my final year of work, from fashion. Initially 1920’s and 30’s glamorous and elegant clothing and now I am also looking at couture pieces. I am currently designing a new collection of work that will be a range of hand raised vessels decorated with curvature forms, compromising a combination of skills from hand forming to stone setting rivets. I hope to design a couture collection of metalwork.”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “Immediately after my degree I would very much like to study for a masters degree specialising in metal and silversmithing on a part time basis. This will allow me to perfect my craft skills and become a master of my chosen materials and processes. I would like to study part time over two years whilst building up my own business as a self employed maker. I hope to be selling my work in many high end galleries along with attending well known craft fairs and exhibitions in the UK and hopefully around the world! I would love the opportunity to also teach my skills to others and having my own studio with a workshop would allow me to do this. This is my main aim for the next 5 years.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “I feel that I have achieved a great deal during my degree. I have worked extremely hard to pass my previous two years of my degree with a first class grade. I am extremely hard working and my work is personal and means everything to me. If I were to win the scholarship, I would put all of the money towards the cost of my Masters Degree as the UK doesn’t offer student loans and funding is extremely limited.”


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