There are those students who not only make an art department stronger but they also help to raise the cool factor. Libbie Cramer is one of those students. As a fifth-year super senior within the Visual Communication and Design program, Libbie explored some other options before landing on design. Since making the switch from exercise science to art and design, Libbie has accrued several design awards and created stunning work for a wide range of applications from package design to scientific illustrations to children’s pop-up books.
Libbie shared her experiences with us as she works toward her senior exhibition set to be displayed at the end of the Spring semester.
You weren’t originally an art major when you came to UNK. What made you switch?
Initially, I was exercise science, but after taking a few art classes and knowing I was drawn to something in this field, I switched. It was after taking an early graphic design class that I knew this career path was for me. The visual language of graphic design is an incredible way to tell a story, and I want to be able to tell that story for myself and others.
What kind of work do you enjoy doing the most/what themes does your work explore?
I don’t really have a specific style or theme that I adhere to, but I do love exploring different illustration concepts. However, my illustrations usually have an element of playfulness to them either in color, theme, or illustration style. Whatever it is, if I can add an element of illustration I’m happy.
Are there any particular artists or designers that inspire you?
Some designers that I draw inspiration from would be Cipe Pineles’s work in editorial design and then her later illustrations. Also, Seymour Chwast’s illustrations bring me life and his range of illustration style is remarkable. In terms of modern graphic designers there are so many, but a few would be Paula Scher, Jessica Walsh, Tish Barzanji, and Mike Willcox.
Very nice! I can see a lot of illustrative focus within your influences so that makes a lot of sense. And there’s quite a bit of an illustration focus within UNK’s Art and Design department. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience here?
Being in the UNK Art and Design department has been amazing, I’ve always felt like no question here is silly. There is always an open communication between faculty and students. The education in design I’ve received from the UNK Art and Design staff has been more than I could’ve expected, I feel like this program has equipped me with all that skills that I need to enter the design field.
Looking at it even more broadly, what are some of your favorite things about going to UNK/living in Kearney?
I appreciate that Kearney is always trying to improve itself by adding social activities such as Kearney Night Market, which facilitate local artisans, vendors and food trucks. Also, I enjoy the local coffee shops for studying, and the local parks and trails for biking and running. The community within the art and design department is my favorite part about going to UNK.
You’re currently working on your senior show and only a couple of months away from graduating! What are some of your goals post-graduation?
Post graduation my goal is to move to Austin, TX and find a job at a design agency, preferably as an illustration-focused designer. Additionally, I’d like to prioritize travel, and backpack in either Nepal, Thailand, Philippines, or Vietnam.
How do you feel your program and instructors have prepared you for your intended academic/career goals?
Outside of all the technical assets I’ve gained from this program, I think the most positive part is that the instructors have pushed us, as students, to constantly improve the clarity of our visual language in our work. The level of open honesty and constructive criticism has helped me feel prepared for conversations with clients, art directors, or team members that give feedback that can help improve the overall design and how to push the design to be better.
I think it also helps to have a student, like you, who has done such a great job of pushing themselves as well! What would you say to students who may be on the fence about coming to UNK?
I would tell a prospective student to the UNK Art and Design department that the skills and knowledge you will walk away with will prepare you for the world of design and art. Additionally, this program is amazing and the support from students and faculty is unmatched.
Thanks so much, Libbie! And good luck on your senior project!