Alumni Profiles

NCAD graduates pursue diverse careers that draw upon the ideas and concepts they discussed and debated and upon the skills and experiences they have over the course of their undergraduate study.

Through the following profiles we would like to introduce you to some of the many extraordinary alumni of Northwest College of Art & Design’s B.F.A. program in Visual Communication. What follows are a few questions and answers about their experience as a student at NCAD and even some things to consider for those future students thinking about pursuing and making the most of an education at NCAD.

Explanatory Note: Several of the following profiles were written when the college was named Northwest College of Art. That is how the alumni refer to the college in their statements. The college has since changed its name to Northwest College of Art & Design.

Links to profiles:


Kelton Cram

www.keltoncram.blogspot.com is my current blog.

www.aaron-sims.com is where I work, and features some of our latest art.

Q.1) Why did you choose NCA (NCAD)?

A.1) Seattle is beautiful, the campus is beautiful, and I met Craig prior to coming up to the northwest. I loved the idea of ‘isolation in a beautiful environment’ while a large city is just a hop-skip away 😀

Q.2) Describe your experience at NCA (NCAD)?

A.2) Lots of alone time doing art, lots of social time doing art. Interning in Seattle and going there as much as possible. Great music, friends and atmosphere. Inspired all the time!

Q3.) If you had to choose one valuable thing you took away from NCA (NCAD) what would it be?

A.3) Self Discipline.

Q.4) What advice would you give to a student starting at NCA (NCAD) as it relates to helping make their experience positive and successful?

A.4) You get out what you put in.

Q.5) What is the one thing you would have done differently during your time at NCA (NCAD) that would have increased your learning experience?

A.5) Nothing 😀

Q.6) What inspires you?

A.6) Movies

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Noah Read

www.noahread.net

Q.1) Why did you choose NCA (NCAD)?

A.1) I chose NCA (NCAD) when I visited the campus and saw the beautiful environment and realized how much one-on-one time I could expect to have with my professors because of the small class sizes. The ability to have a double major was also very appealing as I believe that having a broad base of experience is important. The ability to do it in a condensed time frame was the deciding factor.

Q.2) Describe your experience at NCA (NCAD).

A.2) I had a good experience at NCA (NCAD). It was a very focused time where I was able to put a lot of time into projects and learn things that have been very useful to me since.

Q.3) If you had to choose one valuable thing you took away from NCA (NCAD) what would it be?

A.3) A broad base from which to leap. I received an education in Multimedia and Design that has allowed me to adapt to a variety of different projects that I have been exposed to since. I work in a graphic design firm as a designer, but the thing that put me over the top as hirable was that I also had experience with HTML. It’s so important to be adaptable and my education was broad enough to allow that.

Q.4) What advice would you give to a student starting at NCA (NCAD) as it relates to helping make their experience positive and successful?

Q.4) Work on each project as if it is the most important part of your portfolio, because it is. Don’t be satisfied with the professor’s lectures alone. Talk to them and pick their brains dry because that’s when real learning happens. If there’s a subject that doesn’t interest you particularly take it as a challenge to learn anyway. Ignoring things that are hard does not make them go away.

Q.5) What is the one thing you would have done differently during your time at NCA (NCAD) that would have increased your learning experience?

A.5) I worked really hard, but I would have worked even harder. I would have bugged my professors for more criticism (not that they didn’t give it), because it’s impossible to learn without honest feedback.

Q.6) What inspires you?

A.6) Four things off the top of my head:

    1. My wife, little girl (born while I was at NCA), and recently arrived baby boy are a constant source of inspiration. They ground my life.
    2. The natural world that we enjoy so much in the Northwest. You can’t find a more creative work than nature.
    3. Anything done really well. Whether it is music, industrial design, photography, architecture, software, cars, books, websites. Craftsmanship and well considered design are inspiring in any form.
    4. History, design and otherwise, is a constant source of inspiration to me. Understanding what has come before helps me think about possibilities that I haven’t considered yet.

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Jamie Santillan

www.supergraphics.com

Q. 1) Why did you choose NCA (NCAD)?

A.1) Craig Freeman came to my high school and gave a presentation. The one thing that he emphasized which has really stuck out was that “Art was a business” I choose NCA due to the fact that the class sizes were kept small and I would have more one on one time with the faculty. I knew I’d be able to pay more attention and learn more when there are less students in a class. The smaller class sizes meant there was more diversity amongst the students. People whom I would never associate with before became my good friends and I got to learn a lot from them. The location was also the key on why i chose NCA. Despite being from Bremerton, it would only be a short commute and I would be a ferry ride away from Seattle.

Q.2) Describe your experience at NCA (NCAD)

A.2) I enjoyed my time at NCA. I learned that I had to be responsible and take action when needed. I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses not only as an artist but also as a person. Everyday was always something new for me to learn which was very exciting. I would wake up in the morning just excited to be in class. Even when I didn’t have class I would still be on campus refining my skills in the computer lab, busy doing photo shoots, or just mentoring other students. Where else can you draw, design, and socialize and not get in trouble for it?

Q.3) If you had to choose one valuable thing you took away from NCA (NCAD) what would it be?

A.3) There are some many valuable things that I learned just by attending NCA. But the one thing that really sticks out is that sometimes you have to be your own teacher. NCA taught us that experiences not only shape who we really are but how those experiences can affect our art. The professor only gives you the basic tools you need to learn, but it is up to you as the individual to take those tools and take it to the next level. Going above and beyond all else if you want to be better than the best.

Q.4) What advice would you give to a student starting at NCA (NCAD) as it relates to helping make their experience positive and successful?

A.4) Take advantage of all the resources that surrounds you. Your fellow students and faculty are great people that you can network with. As a student, you interact with these people day in and day out. Like you, they have strengths and weaknesses but your weakness can be their strength. You can learn a lot from one another.

Don’t be afraid to fail. Always take a chance. Being an artist is all about your experiences.

Q.5) What is the one thing you would have done differently during your time at NCA (NCAD) that would have increased your learning experience?

A.5) The one thing I probably would have done differently at NCA was take more chances. I was always afraid of my work and what others thought about it which was also a reflection of my personality at the time. I was not confident in myself and my abilities until half way through my NCA career.

Q.6) What inspires you?

A.6) Just knowing the graphics I create can have a profound impact on society. I’m in a field were I can express myself and make people pay attention to my work and have a reaction to it. Everyone will be inspired whether it is positive or negative. It is not really called work when you are enjoying what you do.

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Promise Tangeman

www.promisetangeman.com

Q.1) Why did you choose NCA (NCAD)?

A.1) I chose NCA (NCAD) because I was from the Northwest, and I wanted to be close enough to feel connected to the City, but far enough away to feel relaxed and comfortable. I love that the drive up the school feels like I am approaching a hidden get-a-way.

Q.2) Describe your experience at NCA (NCAD):

A.2) NCA has a really comfortable learning environment where i could really get to know the other students and their strengths. The teachers were really personable, had credible backgrounds, and all successful in their careers. Because the school has a small environment, all the students come from really different backgrounds and areas of expertise. Which is GREAT!! It really felt like a tight family that was really knowledgeable about a lot of different mediums of art.

Q.3) If you had to choose one valuable thing you took away from NCA (NCAD) what would it be?

A.3) MY BIGGEST strength as an owner of a small successful graphic design business is that I have a background/professional training in Fine Art. The school brilliantly blends fine art concepts with marketable computer skills in an un-intimidating way. Before I went to NCA (NCAD) I was deathly afraid of anything techy or computer related, But NCA (NCAD) made the learning process interesting and natural for me.

Q.4) What advice would you give to a student starting at NCA (NCAD) as it relates to helping make their experience positive and successful?

A.4) Do every project and assignment as if you want to use it in your portfolio. In the end you will not want some of your projects in your portfolio, but the earlier you can start to train yourself to do your very best with every project, the quicker you will learn and the more professional you will be treated. Set the bar high for yourself in the beginning.

Q.5) What is one thing you would have done differently during your time at NCA (NCAD) that would have increased your learning experience?

A.5) Don’t rely on the teachers to do it all. They can’t embed their skills in your brain, if you are not paying attention. No matter how talented the teachers are, school is what you make it. You can’t expect to become a brilliant artist if you don’t do the work.

Q.6) What inspires you?

A.6) Passion inspires me. Everything I do filters through my passion. I am an explorer at nature. I am always on the look out for inspiration in daily life, at restaurants, shopping, browsing the Internet, etc.

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Derek Gress

www.fingersduke.com

Q.1) Why did you choose NCA (NCAD)?

A.4) I did not really have much direction during my senior year of high school.

I did not want to fall into the same trap as my parents and most the working adults I knew, of just working a job and not doing anything they were passionate about.

I knew I wanted to do something with my hands and that I wanted to be creative. After I learned of NCA (NCAD) and the program they offered I just knew that it was were I needed to be.

2) Describe your experience at NCA (NCAD):

A.2) NCA (NCAD) really developed me as a creative person. I really did not know exactly what it was that I wanted before hand, or what my options really where. I also met a bunch of great people and friends that really inspire and support one another.

Q.3) If you had to choose one valuable thing you took away from NCA (NCAD) what would it be?

A.3) The people.

Q.4) What advice would you give to a student starting at NCA (NCAD) as it relates to helping make their experience positive and successful?

A.4) Do not do any project just to get it done. Work on everything with as much energy and attachment as you would a project that you were passionate about. It really pays off in the end.

Q.5) What is one thing you would have done differently during your time at NCA that would have increased your learning experience?

A.5) Do not do any project just to get it done. Work on everything with as much energy and attachment as I would a project that I were passionate about.

Q.6) What inspires you?

A.4) People who stand out from society and rise above expectations. People who go against the norm. Music. Abandoned structures.

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Sara Huntley

www.sarahuntley.com

1) Why did you choose NCA (NCAD)?

A.1) I chose NCA because it had more to offer then the other large art colleges in the area. I wasn’t exactly sure want I wanted to do after I graduated, so the smaller class sizes, and program they offered, made it easier to choose.

2) Describe your experience at NCA (NCAD):

A.2) Even though my experience was definitely challenging, I learned that anything worth doing shouldn’t be a walk in the park. It was a lot of hard work paired with some life lessons.

Q.3) If you had to choose one valuable thing you took away from NCA (NCAD) what would it be?

A.3) Never do anything unless you put 100% into it. Otherwise, you’re wasting your own time above anyone else.

Q.4) What advice would you give to a student starting at NCA (NCAD) as it relates to helping make their experience positive and successful?

A.4) Understand that the teachers and curriculum at NCA (NCAD) are there to help you sharpen your skills. If you really want to have a career in the creative industry, and make something of yourself, you have go and get your name out there on your own.

Q.5) What is one thing you would have done differently during your time at NCA (NCAD) that would have increased your learning experience?

A.5) I would have done every project as if it were going to be seen by the top five art/creative directors in Seattle. You change your portfolio and judgment on your portfolio pieces quicker when you do this.

Q.6) What inspires you?

A.6) New talent. I love when an art student does a remarkable project that amazes me. It makes me check myself to keep me on top of my game.

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Susan Ogilvie

 

Q.1) Why did you choose NCA (NCAD)?

A.1) NCA has the intimacy and excellence rarely found in the same place. I wanted an art community environment that attracted the most skilled and noted instructors in the field that I was pursuing. The beauty of the campus was a huge draw, as I felt inspiration in the environment I was essential to my growth as an artist.

2) Describe your experience at NCA (NCAD):

A.2) The three years I studied at NCA (NCAD) in many ways was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream as well as the foundational training I so needed. I became part of a “family”, grew in my artistic and academic skills and found my path for the future as an artist and professional. I believe every artist inside dreams of being part of a movement of artists that in their way will change the world. At NCA, you really find that chemistry. Each individual in your class is unique, talented and inspiring in different ways. NCA provided for me that rare combination of technical skill that we all need to compete in this market, as well as the creative community of artists we love to read about in art history journals.

Q.3) If you had to choose one valuable thing you took away from NCA (NCAD) what would it be?

A.3) There are so many things, but one that stands out so importantly is the ability to call myself an artist within the professional art community of today. NCA gave me the toolbox loaded with skill, knowledge, confidence and insight. To present oneself well, knowing that you’ve been well trained and have developed your gift, is a great thing to graduate with.

Q.4) What advice would you give to a student starting at NCA as it relates to helping make their experience positive and successful?

A.4) Know from the beginning that NCA (NCAD) is a unique and special opportunity. From your first semester, remember that this three years is important from the first day to the last. It moves quickly, challenges you daily and gives you opportunity to develop your unique talents for your future career. As I am now in Graduate School, I am especially proud to have professors remark that my undergraduate formation was very powerful in it’s content. I knew at the time, that my time at NCA was a great beginning to a successful future. Pick the brains of all your teachers, get involved with your school and learn from your classmates. We are all teachers!

Q.5) What is one thing you would have done differently during your time at NCA (NCAD) that would have increased your learning experience?

A.5) Focus on your studies as you would a job. Enjoy the creative journey, but realize that the time you put in is an investment in your future. Do this from the beginning. Try different forms of art as you study at NCA (NCAD), it will help you hone in on some talents that you may have not realized yet. And listen well to the professional advice of your instructors, as they have been in the industry and can help you bypass things that won’t advance your efforts in the field. Networking is a powerful tool, and I would have begun networking from my freshman year.

Q.6) What inspires you?

A.6) I am deeply inspired by people and their joy for life. I am a student of observation. As NCA (NCAD) I learned how to “see” like I never had before. I am inspired by enthusiasm in others to create and to share. I’m an unusual mix of traditional and contemporary ideas. I like melding the beauty of history and the promise of today and beyond. I like the idea of making my mark and saying something. I now know that the most universal and powerful language on Earth is art.

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Nate Braceros

Q.1) Why did you choose NCA (NCAD)?

A.1) The short of it is that I didn’t like my other options. I could have attended my local community college or the University of Hawaii at Hilo, which was right across the street from my high school, all the while flippin’ burgers and living at home. Definitely not for me. I wanted to be creative and I wanted more. More opportunities, more experiences, & more time away from my parents.

Q.2) Describe your experience at NCA (NCAD):

A.2) Quick, challenging, and hands-on. NCA (NCAD) is definitely the place for self-starters: people who are willing to reach beyond their comfort zone, take initiative, explore, be inspired, and work hard to be successful.

Q.3) If you had to choose one valuable thing you took away from NCA (NCAD) what would it be?

A.3) The freedom to create and explore.

Q.4) What advice would you give to a student starting at NCA (NCAD)as it relates to helping make their experience positive and successful?

A.4) Work hard, ask questions, make friends, prioritize, and be fearless. It’s not as glamorous as you think.

Q.5) What is one thing you would have done differently during your time at NCA (NCAD) that would have increased your learning experience?

A.5) Being a part of a larger creative community outside of NCA (NCAD) earlier. It’s all about networking. Most times it’s not what you know, but who you know that will lead you to pretty sweet opportunities. Seriously.

I’ve also come to the realization that most companies and individuals hire not only on the quality of my work, but if I “click” with them. Someone might have AMAZING work, but they might not have the right personality fit with the rest of the office. Ultimately, people want to work with people they like on a very human level. So getting out there and building professional relationships in the industry is a necessity.

Most professional relationships in the industry revolve around a healthy competition between friends, so it’s important to learn how to build bridges while not losing your professional drive.

Q.6) What inspires you?

A.6) You mean besides walks on the beach, unicorns, and sunsets? No? Then I would have to say beautiful, thoughtful, inspiring, and creative design solutions.

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