Visual Communication Design showcases BFA seniors

Submitted photo

Heather Inglis

Watching hard work pay off can be very rewarding for college students as they approach graduation.  In the School of Visual Communication Design, the 32 bachelor of fine arts upcoming graduates will get to see their hard work in the flesh at the annual BFA Senior Show, “Retrospective14.”

The portfolios are on display in the main gallery of the Art Building and can be viewed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Friday. At 6 p.m. on Friday a reception will be held where awards will be given to show participants.

Getting to this point wasn’t exactly easy, however. The seniors said they have been working on their portfolios throughout their college careers — depending on what their concentration is — and have been around design for a good portion of their lives.

Senior VCD major Alanah Timbrook said she has been surrounded by design her whole life. Since her father taught in the art building, she said she was “lucky to be surrounded by design for many years” and that it helped her get where she is today.    

“Through getting to see student’s projects, their progression through the program, and hearing where their degrees took them, I started to realize the impact of graphic design and the broad opportunities it offers,” Timbrook said.

Timbrook’s concentration in VCD is 2D and 3D design, and she said the one thing she appreciates most about design is the “necessary research that informs [her] creative decisions.” She said she encourages VCD students to do the same.

“Conduct good research to drive your concept and always sketch,” she said. “Definitely always sketch.”

Another VCD senior, Gina LaRocca, also learned design at a young age.

“I took architecture in high school and I took some graphic design classes,” she said. “Then I came to Kent and I really liked the design program here and I went with it.”

LaRocca said she focuses mostly on digital work and interactive design. She said most of her portfolio consists of iPad and iPhone apps and short animated videos. While having a VCD major may prove to be frustrating at times, LaRocca said she encourages students to keep pushing themselves and take pride in the work they produce.

“We’ve all had times where we get angry or frustrated with one project but it’s not the end of the world,” she said. “It’s one project. You don’t have to put it in your portfolio. It’s not going to ruin your career. While you might hate your major in that moment it’s going to get better. You have to have pride in your work.”

Getting started with design in high school was also the case for senior Alex Catanese. Catanese always enjoyed “artistic endeavors,” and after being inspired by a graphic design teacher he had senior year, he said pursuing visual communication design at Kent “just made sense.”

He said his portfolio focuses mostly on 2D print work and will contain a combination of student work and a few pieces he’s done during his internship at Rust Valley Design Co., a Kent design studio that offers brand identity, print and digital graphic design, photography and videography, copywriting and alternative printing.

Catanese encourages VCD students to work hard and value the people they meet while in their studio classes. He said that despite all his hard work, building the relationships meant the most to him.

“I would say to really enjoy the relationships you have in VCD,” he said. “Regardless of all the work I’ve done I’ve just really enjoyed getting to know all the students, and I think that’s my favorite part, is just building relationships.”

While Timbrooke, LaRocca and Catanese all said they were excited to see their work, associate professor David Middleton said he’s excited to see the work on display; however, there is something that strikes him the most every year.

“The good thing that I always find out is when parents, are there and their kids want to do graphic design — nobody knows what it is,” Middleton said. “When they come and they see the work, they see how hard their kids have worked and how high quality it is, and they’re just so excited about the education they got.”

LaRocca encourages everyone to see the show and see the effort the BFA seniors have put into their work.

“Come see our show, it’s really, really great,” she said. “I’m super excited to show friends, family, faculty, staff and employers in the area. It’s going to be a good time, we’re excited.”

For more on the designers featured in the BFA Senior Show visit

Contact Heather Inglis at [email protected].