The studio art program at the university encourages a wide variety of skill sets and art styles.
The “The beauty of the studio art program at Southern Connecticut State University is that we follow the liberal arts mission and guidelines that Southern has. [Students] have to take classes in four other concentration. The junior and senior programs, we also give them a really nice foundation, the students can figure out after graduation which area of graphic design they want to go with,” says Melanie Uribe, assistant professor of graphic design.
For Shayla Hill, a junior studio art major, the graphic design program has helped develop her artwork in preparation for a career in the field.
“The studio art program is really good in trying to make sure that those foundations are solid. Really knowing your proportions and scaling—which is really huge—and making sure you know your values. Just all kinds of things that really ensure that you know how to draw things from real life and make it look like that thing,” Hill says.
But even outside of class, the program works to encourage its students’ creative endeavors and always pushes them to improve. Hill, who is working on a comic as a passion project, believes that the work being done in class is helpful for improving her art.
“I am getting better with drawing and human anatomy and form,” Hill says. “I really am. I see it as I’m still drawing every day, I can see that my stuff is improving.”
Tommi Bonomo, a junior studio art major, believes that the program’s creative encouragement and variety in education go hand-in-hand. To her, these two factors have worked in tandem to help improve her art.
“They have a lot of different classes. I’m taking a ceramics class, a jewelry class, stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily use in graphic design, but still expand my art,” Bonomo says.
“We have different projects that you can kind of customize to your own. We’re doing a social justice project right now about something that we’re passionate about, so that kind of helps you to be more into the project.”
Bonomo elected to study graphic design within the studio art major because she believed that it would provide her with opportunities for a more stable career in the field. In that regard, she believes that the university is helping prepare her sufficiently.
Graphic design teachers transfer the classroom as if students are working for clients and expect them to work professionally and are serious about creating a portfolio.
“They treat us like graphic designers, and they expect us to use proper vocabulary,” Bonomo says.
Shamir Hughes, a junior studio art major, agrees that the program is working well to prepare students for a career after graduation.
“My two professors treat us like we’re actually in a work environment. Like we’re actually on a team, and we’re in the industry. They expect us to be done on deadline.”
Despite the variety of opportunities in studio art, students say they are met with challenges about the viability of art as a career.
“That’s always a challenge when you go into these unique paths like art and other fields. People always say, ‘Art’s not a real job. This is not a real job. You’re never gonna make any money with that,’” Hughes says.
“Yet, people use graphic design every day. People are always on Instagram, looking at signs. People don’t really know how much art goes into everything. Once they see how much art is used in everyday [life], then they change their minds about it.”
Story by: Ethan Sabetta