Archive for the ‘Graphic Design News’ Category

Kevin Dietz Draws Swaney Prize 2015

Posted on: March 26th, 2015 by Caroline Davis No Comments

Fine Art major Kevin Dietz, a sophomore from Memphis, was awarded the 2015 Robb Swaney Prize for Excellence in Visual Expression during judging held on March 12. Established in 2006 by Mary Jane Swaney in memory of her husband, noted Nashville architect Charles Robb Swaney, the $1,000 cash prize honors a student who produced “visual designs and patterns that spoke to others.”

Jurors Martin Shofner of Shofner Buck Architects/Architectsure and Walter Crouch of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP, former associates of Mr. Swaney, praised Dietz’s charcoal and graphite drawings and woodcut and poly-litho prints; in particular, they cited the power of two charcoal drawings which were based on the mythological figure Silenus. Dietz explained, “[Silenus’] archetype has been transferable through out literature and in popular culture without too much representation to his deeper philosophical manifestation. I wanted to play on the classical representation of this character and experiment with eroding this drawing until he became a series of lines and distortion. I’m fascinated with imagery of history and power and all I want to do is deflate them or find those figures whose potency and story is not that of fame and glory.”

Students were selected by their department chairs to participate in the annual competition, and brought examples of their work to display and discuss.

Congratulations to all the 2015 Swaney Prize nominees!

Fine Art:
Kevin Dietz
Kay Kennedy

Alex Mattingly

Graphic Design:
Yanet Mireles
Sara Schork

Interior Design
Laurabelle Chytrowsky
Thera Barnes

Joe Nunez
Alanna Styer

Alanna  Styer

Alanna Styer

Swaney 2015 Thera Barnes edit

Thera Barnes


Laurabelle Chytrowsky

Laurabelle Chytrowsky

Kay Kennedy


Kevin Dietz

Kevin Dietz

Yanet Mireles

Yanet Mireles

Sara Schork

Sara Schork

Joe Nunez

Joe Nunez

Alex Mattingly

Alex Mattingly





Swaney judging 0042 edit Wweb

Currey Jurors Tag David Anderson’s Work for Top Purchase Prize

Posted on: February 10th, 2015 by Caroline Davis

2 viewers Currey2015 WwebDavid Anderson, a junior Fine Art major, claimed the top honor at the 2015 Currey Student Juried Show for his oil painting Untitled Map. As winner of the Anny Gowa Purchase Award, which comes with a $500 cash prize, Anderson’s work will be part of the permanent Watkins collection. A total of eight winners were announced by President Ellen Meyer during a February 5 reception in the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery. Students received cash prizes as well as gift certificates courtesy of Plaza Artist Materials and Picture Framing.

Students in all disciplines submitted 161 pieces this year, with 21 selected by two jurors: artist/curator Karen Seapker, who currently splits her time between Nashville and Brooklyn, and Pradip Malde, professor of art, Department of Art and Art History, University of the South, Sewanee.  The Currey Student show will remain on display through March 12.

David Anderson with President Ellen Meyer

David Anderson with President Ellen Meyer and his two paintings juried into the show

David Anderson, Fine Art, junior
Untitled Map (oil on panel)

Luisiana Mera, Fine Art, senior
“Gaby, Dora, and Little Lulu” (charcoal on paper)

Ashley Doggett, Fine Art, sophomore
“In Ictu Occuli” (wood block)

Casey Payne, Fine Art, senior
“Big Girl” (mixed media on paper)


Luisi Mera

Luisi Mera

Aaron Harper, Fine Art, junior
“Phases of God Baby” (oil on leather chessboard under a rock)

Noelle Grimes, Graphic Design, junior
Radiohead Poster (mixed media)

Heather Barrie, Fine Art, senior
“Family Project” (digital print)

Kayla Saito, Fine Art, senior
Injuries for the Settlement (mixed media)




Casey Payne

Casey Payne

Noelle Grimes Currey 2015 Wweb

Noelle Grimes


Ashley Doggett

Ashley Doggett

Heather Barrie

Heather Barrie

Aaron Harper

Aaron Harper

Kayla Saito

Kayla Saito

Watkins Welcomes Design Star Jessica Hische on January 22

Posted on: January 10th, 2015 by Caroline Davis
Jessica Hische (photo by Kari Orvik)

Jessica Hische (photo by Kari Orvik)

Letterer, illustrator and type designer Jessica Hische – at the age of 31, one of the most influential graphic designers in the world – will launch the 2015 Watkins Visiting Artists Series with a talk on Thursday, January 22, at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. The presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Watkins Theater.

The event is free and the public is invited. The Watkins Visiting Artist Series is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

LECTURE TITLE: “My Illustrious Ascent Toward Less Exciting Work”
Designers try desperately to make work that’s impactful—to create work that will leave people breathless and hungry for more. Young designers in particular are endlessly trying to impress, their designs scream “Design!”, their type choices are bold, their color palettes are disruptive. Many designers carry this momentum throughout their careers, but there are a few people that begin to see differently. Instead of focusing on the flash, they hone in on the details, noticing things that others can barely perceive. Does this make their work better? Does it make it boring? Jessica will guide you through her own work and show you what happens when the small and imperceptible becomes even more exciting than the big, bright and flashy.

Seating in the Watkins Theater is limited, so please reserve online. Seats will be held until 6:15 p.m.


Known internationally for her award-winning lettering, illustrations and typefaces, Ms. Hische is also an avid “internetter,” with a special interest in the intersection of arts and technology through the lens of web typography (she has the word “Type” tattooed on her left triceps). A native of Charleston, S.C., who grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania, she graduated in 2006 from Tyler School of Art (at Temple University) with a degree in Graphic and Interactive Design, then worked for Headcase Design (Philadelphia) and at Louise Fili Ltd. (New York). In 2009, at the age of 25, she launched her freelance career; her extensive and impressive credits include projects in advertising, books, identity, editorial, marketing/merchandise for The Atlantic, Harper Collins, Target, The New York Times, Wes Anderson, Dave Eggers, Google, American Express, Nike, Samsung, OXFAM America, Speedo, Penguin Books, Neiman Marcus, Papyrus, Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret, MailChimp, Pinterest and Tiffany & Co., among numerous quirky and corporate others. She has been honored as an Art Directors Club “Young Gun” and in Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 (twice).

Jessica Hische Minot font poster WwebWhile not primarily a web designer, many of her personal projects are web-centric and she has become as well known for her side projects as for her client work. In her project Daily Drop Cap (2009), she created a new illustrative letter daily, working through the alphabet a total of twelve times; at its peak, the site had more than 100,000 visitors per month. She has also created a number of educational micro-sites including “Mom, This is How Twitter Works,” “Should I Work for Free?” and “Don’t Fear the Internet” (with Russ Maschmeyer, whom she married in 2012), each as entertaining as it is practical. (She even coined the term “procrastiworking” to describe her tendency to procrastinate on client work by working on personal projects.)

Many of these sites reflect an engagement with new media and social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter (where she has over 88,000 followers), and they also demonstrate her advocacy for artists’ rights in an era of freelancing and liberal attitudes about intellectual property. Ms. Hische also embodies a new mode of presentation and marketing that rejects age-old distinctions between professional and personal identities. In all these respects, she is a designer whose career addresses the possibilities and predicaments of digital media for artists and creative people working today.

Jessica Hische at Title Case photo John Madere WwebMs. Hische works out of Title Case, a by-appointment-only collaborative studio in San Francisco (with fellow letterer and designer Erik Marinovich) as well as the Pencil Factory illustration and design collective in Brooklyn. An engaging, spirited presenter, since 2010 she has spoken at 50+ conferences and seminars all over the world—Auckland, Oslo, Dusseldorf, Dublin, Berlin, Barcelona, Guadalajara, Melbourne, Manila, Vancouver, Copenhagen and Capetown, for starters. She serves on the board of directors of the Type Directors Club, the leading international organization whose purpose is to support excellence in typography, both in print and on screen.

“Jessica Hische is one of the most influential letterers on the planet, inspiring our design students and faculty, in equal measure, with her prolific output of brilliant typography, illustration and pearls of wisdom,” said Dan Brawner, chair of the Department of Graphic Design at Watkins. “We are very proud to welcome her to Nashville to share her perspectives on art and design, the technologies she’s embraced in her unique way, and the rights and responsibilities of creative people.”

Examples of Ms. Hische’s work, writings, FAQ and more can be found at her website, or follow her via

Jessica Hische OrchardParkMall ad head turner WwebThe Watkins Visiting Artists Series, now in its fifth year, welcomes nationally and internationally recognized fine artists, designers, filmmakers, educators and critics to the campus and the community. The guest artists, whose work crosses many disciplinary boundaries, give public presentations, sharing their expertise and perspectives on their careers and providing insight into issues facing contemporary artists and designers.

The VAS offers students and the larger cultural community a rare opportunity to engage the work and ideas of trendsetting visual artists, designers, filmmakers and intellectuals. The critically acclaimed initiative has not only brought a number of internationally renowned artists to Nashville—like first-time city visitors Harrell Fletcher, R. H. Quaytman, David Hilliard, Jonathan Katz, Alec Soth and Artemio Rodriguez—but it has also invigorated the local art scene by introducing artists working in new media and performance—artists such as Nick Briz, Jon Satrom and Liz Magic Laser (2013 New York Armory Artist)—or those expanding the parameters of traditional media and art practice—such as Chris Sickels, Deborah Luster (2013 Guggenheim Fellow) and Natalia Almada (2013 MacArthur Fellow).

Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard in MetroCenter; plentiful, free parking is available in the campus lot. For more information, including updates to programming and future guests, visit or call 615-383-4848.

Jessica Hische Neiman Marcus gift tag WwebKey series participants from Watkins are Gallery Committee members Dan Brawner, professor and department chair of graphic design; Caroline Davis, director of external relations and assistant director of development; Mary Beth Harding, director of community education; Brady Haston, assistant professor of fine art and studio facilities manager; Morgan Higby-Flowers, assistant professor of fine art; Robin Paris, assistant professor and department chair of photography; Terry Thacker, professor of fine art; Tom Williams (committee chair), assistant professor of art history, and student representatives Holly Carden (Graphic Design) and Weng Tze Yang (Fine Art).

Jessica Hische Starbucks latte 04 WwebAbout Humanities Tennessee

Founded in 1973, Humanities Tennessee is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting lifelong learning, civil discourse, and an appreciation of history, diversity, and community among Tennesseans. Statewide programs include the annual Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word℠, the Appalachian and Tennessee Young Writers’ Workshops, a variety of History & Culture programs, Grants & Awards for teachers and community, among many others.

Mission: Humanities Tennessee nurtures the mutual respect and understanding essential to community by enabling Tennesseans to examine and critically reflect upon the narratives, traditions, beliefs, and ideas — as expressed through the arts and letters — that define us as individuals and participants in community life.

To learn more, visit



Jessica offers a comprehensive listing of design, typography and web dev resources on her website: //

Check out a couple [of the many] great interviews with Jessica in Rookie (2012) and Design Boom (2014)

Design sites to peruse =

Design Observer = Features news and critical essays on design, urbanism, social innovation and popular culture

I Love Typography = “It’s just about impossible to imagine a world without type, but at the same time type’s ubiquity has most of us taking it for granted. So take a closer look.”

The Type Directors Club = promoting excellence in typography for over 65 years

The Dieline and Lovely Package have featured several Watkins Graphic Design alumni, including
Stephen Jones
for J. D. Howard Reserve Cigars, Ignite Salsa and Manifique shaving kit

Julian Baker
on the Dieline
Julian on Lovely Package

Andy Gregg
on the Dieline

Lindsey Armstrong, Shelby Rodeffer and Katie DeSouza
on the Dieline







Watkins Serves Best Work at Currey Juried Show, Opening February 5

Posted on: January 5th, 2015 by Caroline Davis

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film will present the 2015 Currey Juried Student Show, featuring outstanding work in fine art, film, graphic design, interior design and photography, from February 5–March 12 in the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery on campus.

Currey 2014 gallery viewer 0072 WwebAn opening reception and awards presentation will be held on Thursday, February 5, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The exhibition and reception are free and open to the public.

Serving as Currey Show jurors are artist/curator Karen Seapker, who currently splits her time between Nashville and Brooklyn, and Pradip Malde, professor of art, Department of Art and Art History, University of the South, Sewanee.

Click to enlarge evite

Click to enlarge evite

COOP Gallery cooperative member/curator since 2013, she holds an MFA in Painting from Hunter College in New York City and a BA in Studio Art and Art History from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and has been in residence at Chashama North in Pine Plains, NY. Her work has been exhibited in New York, Miami, Pittsburgh, and Shanghai, with two solo shows earlier this year, in London (Canal Projects) and Nashville (Zeitgeist).

Malde has lived and worked as a photographic artist and teacher in Scotland and Tennessee since graduating from the Glasgow School of Art in 1980. He has exhibited in Europe and the US and has works in numerous collections including the Princeton University Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum (London) and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (Edinburgh). He teaches classes in photography, documentary photography and electronic media and is currently working with students and alumni on ways of using photography for community development in Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica and Grundy County, TN.

All Watkins students are eligible to submit projects created since Fall 2014, with eight winners­–topped by the Anny Gowa Purchase Award­–announced by President Ellen L. Meyer.

Currey Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m.


Senior Graphic Design Goes “Bottoms Up” for Dec. 4 Showcase

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by Caroline Davis

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents the Senior Graphic Design Exhibition “Bottoms Up,” featuring work by Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree candidates Ryan Arauza, Zie Campbell, Ross Denton, Matthew Erwin and Jessica Yohn, on Thursday, December 4, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Deavor in East Nashville.

The one-night-only portfolio showcase, which is free and open to the public, will introduce to the community “five local designers brewed to perfection.” On display will be print and multimedia projects in advertising, packaging, web design, branding, digital publishing and illustration.

Each graduating class of graphic designers at Watkins chooses a presentation theme for their group BFA show, and this year’s “Bottoms Up” concept was inspired by a conversation about the growing number of micro breweries in town. Prompted by Ross Denton, they described what kind of brew they would be.

For more information, visit show website or

Deavor_front door WwebThe creative co-working and event space Deavor ( is located at 305 Jefferson Street, #125/37208 in the heart of East Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood (near the corner of 3rd Avenue North).

Ryan Arauza

Ryan Arauza

Watkins Graphic Design students and alumni are consistently among the most honored in the country through their submissions to regional, national and international advertising design competitions, particularly in the student and professional categories of the ADDY Awards (hosted by the American Advertising Federation). At the 2014 Nashville Student ADDYs,Watkins won more top-level awards than any other school competing (for the third consecutive year), claiming nine Golds, eight Silvers and three out of four Judge’s Choice honors.

Zie Campbell

Zie Campbell

Watkins students continue to blanket Nashville and the region with their intelligence, visual wit and creativity through unique opportunities with several beloved Nashville community events. In the past few years, their talents have been chosen to promote signature happenings such as the American Artisan Festival, the Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival, Music City Hot Chicken Festival, Nashville Sister Cities Program, Nashville Symphony and Nashville Opera performances, and Murfreesboro’s JazzFest, as well as the Nashville Scene’s “Best of Nashville” cover art.

Ross Denton

Ross Denton


Matthew Erwin

Matthew Erwin

‘Watkins Alumni Exhibition Series No. 1’ Celebrates Community and Connections

Posted on: November 3rd, 2014 by Caroline Davis

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents “Watkins Alumni Exhibition Series No. 1,” featuring new work by 10 alumni in Film, Fine Art, Graphic Design and Photography and opening Thursday, November 20, with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery on campus. The exhibition will run through December 12.

Participating artists in “Watkins Alumni Exhibition Series No. 1″ are Jeremy Adams (Film, 2003), Alicia W. Binkley (Graphic Design, 2008), Chris Doubler (Fine Art, 2006), Patricia Earnhardt (Fine Art, 2008),  Jennifer Georgescu (Photography, 2008), Derek Gibson (Fine Art, 2004), Pam Jolly Haile (Fine Art, 2013), Joshua Brent Montgomery (Film, 2008), Jaime Raybin (Fine Art, 2006) and Trent Thibodeaux (Graphic Design, 2006).

This inaugural show, organized by the newly formed Watkins Alumni Committee, is the first in an ongoing series that intends to demonstrate the diverse and continued explorations of art across departments among the alumni community.

The exhibition and reception are free and the public is invited. Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard in MetroCenter; free parking is available in the campus lot. For more information, visit or call 615.383.4848.

Regular Currey Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m. (Watkins will be closed Nov. 27-28 for Thanksgiving.) Admission is free.

About the Artists

Director and cinematographer Jeremy Adams ( lives and works in Los Angeles. A 2003 graduate of the Film School at Watkins, he has worked in a variety of roles in film/video production, ranging from art department assistant on ABC’s “Pushing Daises” to storyboarding acclaimed music video director Joseph Kahn’s second feature film, “Detention.” Jeremy has directed and photographed documentaries, commercials, music videos, short films and a feature film. In 2012, he directed an award-winning spot for Marine Corps Special Operations Command/MARSOC and in 2013, shot and edited the webisode “You Ought To Know Nashville” for PBS Digital.

  • Grid of 9 (3 across, 3 down), archival digital prints, iPhone photography (12″x20″)

    JJeremy Adams, "Pacific Stranger"

    Jeremy Adams, “Pacific Stranger”

“I have always viewed the ordinary world in cinematic widescreen. For the longest time I tried to develop a photographic style to reflect this, without any real success, but having an iPhone in my pocket at all times and taking pictures on a phone just for the hell of it has allowed themes of simplicity and space to emerge, one photo after another. My eye is now naturally drawn to unique, natural landscapes that sometimes feature inhabitants. Most times though, the landscapes themselves are characters in their own right that tell a story without ever saying a word. It’s this aspect that attracts me the most, especially in this modern and ever-complicating world where we are constantly bombarded with information.”

Alicia Waters Binkley - him her

Alicia W. Binkley, “Him Her”

Alicia Waters Binkley ( describes herself as a “designer and doer who loves to find creative ways to help others.” Running her own business since earning her BGA in Graphic Design Watkins in 2008, she currently co-runs MID, a print and design company, with her husband, Drew. On top of illustrating she has a great passion for UX and problem solving — worked with many clients around the world on UX/UI solutions for web and mobile — and enjoys serving as the Creative Director at AlienFast, LLC. Earlier this year she became a host of the Nashville chapter of the monthly global creative networking series CreativeMornings.

  • “Him Her,” 2-color screen print with metallic gold ink printed on #110 Smart White French paper (12″ x 18″). Open editions.

“My work tugs at the heartstrings of sentiment and nostalgia. My illustrations often include pattern work with an update to traditional elements and icons.”

A Middle Tennessee native, Chris Doubler received his BFA in Fine Art from Watkins in 2006. Since that time he has applied his skills and education to become an exhibition designer, preparator, graphic designer and art handler at institutions including Cheekwood Museum & Botanical Gardens, The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, and The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

  • Silkcreen print on paper (approx 16″x19″)
Jennifer Georgescu, "The Veil"

Jennifer Georgescu, “The Veil”

Jennifer Georgescu’s ( work describes instinctual aspects of humanity correlating to and differing from societal structuring. With a background in painting and photographic arts, she utilizes medium format film photography, installation, and digital technology. Her projects analyze dualisms in language, relationships, mythologies and control. “I often search for the balance that exists in between these dichotomies. This is how I view humanity; always teetering on the line between fiction and reality, domination and submissiveness, self and other.”

After obtaining a BFA in Photography from Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in 2008, Georgescu was awarded a yearlong residency at Vanderbilt University’s “Gallery F.” She has received numerous honors from Artist Portfolio Magazine, the Camera Obscura Journal of Literature and Photography, and the Julia Margaret Cameron Award.  Her works have recently been exhibited in the Masur Museum of Art, the Detroit Museum of New Art, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, and PhotoCenter NW. She lives in San Francisco.

  • “Star Gazers” (the veil) (20”x20,” 2014) and “Star Gazers” (night walks) (15”x15,” 2014)

I wish I could believe that something was out there waiting for me in the cosmos. I find the thought of forever incapacitating. Then I think of the alternative; of being nothing ever again. We all have a self-proclaimed importance that renders our being obsolete, impossible. This is part of what makes us human. We hold the idea of our importance despite our insignificance and mortality.

Jennifer Georgescu, "Night Walks"

Jennifer Georgescu, “Night Walks”

I long for a time, somewhere in the past, when it was thought that all information was just out of reach and all we had to do was find it. I feel that in present time, the more information we know, the more we realize that we’ll never know it all. We now have a vastly expanding wealth of information at our fingertips, yet we are no closer to “knowing” the most important answers.

The most wonderful idea I can think of, the thing that truly comforts me, is the possibility of time being warped beyond our current perception. I find comfort in the idea of parallel universes; where little holes allow for one world to briefly experience the next. When you make a decision in one world, an alternate decision would be made in the next, and so on. This idea has always allowed me to think that when I am gone in one world, I may continue in the next.

“Star Gazers” addresses the things that are hard to think about (i.e. death, mortality, insignificance) through imagination and narrative easy to be confronted with. Fiction and awe weave together antique imagery, scientific imaging, and medium format film photography to tell a far-fetched tale that is factually possible.   This is a story where worlds can communicate, where past and present can connect, and the cosmos contain meaning.

Patricia Earnhardt, film still from "Accepted"

Patricia Earnhardt, film still from “Accepted”

Patricia Earnhardt ( is a multimedia visual artist working primarily with video and installation art. Her work, which focuses on social and political issues as well as personal internal struggles, has been exhibited in Berlin, Germany and in numerous venues in Nashville. She graduated from Watkins in 2008 with a BFA in fine Art. She is also a filmmaker and, for the past 20 years, has run Earnhardt Films, LLC with her husband, David Earnhardt.

  • Digital video, “Accepted” (2:36, looping)

“In the video, ‘Accepted,’ soft, ripe fruit falls onto the back of a woman reclining peacefully in a field. The fruit splays as it hits the quiet and unflinching body — flesh meeting flesh. The image depicts an acceptance of nature and its effects on the body over time, showing the beauty in aging — something that is often considered grotesque.”

A Murfreesboro native, Derek Gibson ( has exhibited locally, regionally and nationally in a variety of group and juried shows in Fort Collins (CO), Cincinnati, Atlanta and New York City since graduating from Watkins with a BFA in Fine Art in 2004. His work has included sculpture, photography, installation and video installation. He stays involved in the local art community, volunteering as a studio teaching assistant and exhibit preparator in two local non-profit organizations and maintaining his own artistic practice while keeping a day job.

  • Mixed media sculpture of various domestic and exotic hardwoods (approx. 6-8’ tall, 4-5’ in length and width)

“My work is informed by the idea of place. This could be a physical place where I have been or where I shared an event with a significant other. It could also be a spiritual place I have been as part of my meditation practice and continuing journey of personal development.

Pam Haile - Her Mark 1

Pam Haile, “Her Mark 1″

Pam Jolly Haile processes ideas of space and place using a variety of visual languages, including painting, sculpture, installation and photography. Her focus on nature’s benevolence and the experiences it provides is the thread she follows, weaving abstract ideas and theory into her art practice. She earned her BFA in Fine Art from Watkins in 2013 and currently lives and works in Nashville.

  • Archival UV direct print on dibond substrate (20″x15″)

“There is a seamless rapport between my everyday life and art making. The work I create is a recording of my ordinary experiences. I aim to engage the audience with sensory and poetic qualities in works that question what it means to consciously observe, and therefore wholly experience being human.”

Joshua Brent Montgomery, "Shine"

Joshua Brent Montgomery, “Shine”

Joshua Brent Montgomery ( is an artist from Goodlettsville, TN. A 2008 graduate of the Film School at Watkins, he works as a casting associate in the entertainment industry and spends his free time writing and drawing.

  • Three acrylic on canvas: “Boy in Snow” (24”x36”), “Scared Boy in Field” (18”x24”), “Shine” (36″x36″)

“My work is culled from a wide variety of personal interests and curiosities, none of which share a locus worth mentioning.”

Alethea Norene holds a BFA in Photography in 2008 from Watkins and MFA in 2010 from Maine College of Art in Portland. She has exhibited her work nationally in solo and group exhibitions and alternative venues such as clothing boutiques. Co-founder of SOUP, a community based micro-grant program for artists in Portland, Alethea is currently expanding her creative practice and is in school in Nashville to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, hoping to utilize her creative experiences to positively empower women.

  • Archival pigment print from digital scan of film (30×30″)

“My work celebrates friendship, co-dependence, magic, healing, faith, and mistake making. My images and drawings memorialize moments of togetherness and independent voyages.”

Jaime Raybin, "For Owen"

Jaime Raybin, “For Owen”

Jaime Raybin ( earned a BFA in Fine Art in 2006 from Watkins, where she currently works as an admissions recruiter. Her exhibition history includes Northwestern University, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts (Nashville), Swanson-Reed Contemporary (Louisville, KY), the Foundry Art Centre (Saint Charles, MO), Athens Institute for Contemporary Art (Athens, GA), the Renaissance Center (Dickson, TN) and the University of the South (Sewanee, TN).

  • Acrylic on canvas “Bathroom” (28″x37″) and “Can Phone” (17″x42″); digital micrography collage “For Owen” and “For Kalina” (each approx. 18”x24″)

“My paintings deal with themes of social isolation and escapism. They are set in the workplace and in shared living spaces. This work is figurative and personal, often featuring myself as a character in narrative metaphorical vignettes.”

Originally from Louisiana, Trent Thibodeaux ( has been a resident of Nashville for the past 14 years, since coming to Watkins to study graphic design; he earned his BFA in 2006. He has worked in many facets of the design world and currently is lead designer at Third Man Records.

  • Graphite and wall paper on paper (10×20); color photo (8×10), wall pasted illustration in corner (3’x4’)

“My work deals with the transformation from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Using drawings, textures, & found images that evoke nostalgia, i create new images that tell an unintended story. At first glance these new images look familiar and deliver a sense of comfort. Through further exploration, the comparison of unfamiliar and unexpected elements creates sense of uneasiness. The conflict created by the unexpected change in narrative, caused by the combination of disparate elements challenges the viewer to rethink the idea of normalcy and expectation.”

Click to enlarge evite

Click to enlarge evite

About the Watkins Alumni Committee

The Watkins Alumni Committee preserves the spirit of the Watkins community for alumni, locally and nationally, beyond graduation by cultivating opportunities for professional growth and support as well as social connectivity. As artists and makers, we promote the value of the arts beyond the walls of Watkins through collaborations with community organizations and local businesses, advocating for arts access and art education, and developing a culture of philanthropy in the arts. For more information, contact committee chair Abby Whisenant at

Graphic Design Crowns ‘Split and Twisted 2014′ Winners

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by Caroline Davis

Congratulations to the winners of the annual juried graphic design competition, “Split & Twisted,” announced at the show’s opening reception on October 23. Senior Holly Carden collected three honors for her illustration “In the Act of Drawing,” including Best in Show, and junior Kelsey Goessman claimed two for her Collected Curiosities catalog.

Christopher Strachan, Holly Carden, Ross Denton, Ryan Arauza, Yanet Mireles, Chris Hughes, Sara Schork and Kelsey Goessman

Christopher Strachan, Holly Carden, Ross Denton, Ryan Arauza, Yanet Mireles, Chris Hughes, Sara Schork and Kelsey Goessman

Graphic Design faculty Dan Brawner, Judith Sweeney-O’Bryan and Steve Wilkison led the presentations to nine students. Jurors for the show were Gish Sherwood & Friends‘ art directors Carrie Graves and Nelly Tabor and designer/Watkins alumna Kristen Fowler. “Split & Twisted 2014″ will be on display in the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery through November 14.

Best of Show:

Holly Carden, senior
In the Act of Drawing

Best In Category:

Lydia Jarvi, sophomore
Cadbury Ads for Martha Stewart Living

Chris Hughes

Chris Hughes

Poster Design:
Chris Hughes, sophomore
Nirvana Poster

 Kelsey Goessman

Kelsey Goessman

Publication Design:
Kelsey Goessman, junior
Collected Curiosities Catalog

Sara Schork

Sara Schork

Books & Jackets:
Sara Schork, senior
Mary Poppins Book Covers

Holly Carden
In the Act of Drawing

Holly Carden

Holly Carden

Judge’s Choice

Kelsey Goessman
Collected Curiosities Catalog
Judge: Kristen Fowler (Designer, GS&F)

Ryan Arauza with Steve Wilkison and Judith Sweeney-O'Bryan

Ryan Arauza with Steve Wilkison and Judith Sweeney-O’Bryan




Ryan Arauza, senior
Gravity Poster
Judge: Carrie Graves (Senior Art Director, GS&F)





Holly Carden
In the Act of Drawing
Judge: Neely Tabor (Senior Art Director, GS&F)

Faculty Choices:

S&T2014 8730 Ross Denton

Ross Denton

Ross Denton, senior
Angry Robot Attack
Faculty: Judith Sweeney O’Bryan

Christopher Strachan

Christopher Strachan

Christopher Strachan, junior
Hot Chicken on Broadway Poster
Faculty: Dan Brawner

Yanet Mireles

Yanet Mireles


Yanet Mireles, senior
NBC Dracula Website
Faculty: Steve Wilkison

Watkins and Warner Music Team for Unique ‘Music Industry and Visual Arts’ Experience

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by Caroline Davis

Warner Music Nashville and Watkins College of Art, Design & Film have partnered for a new “Music Industry and the Visual Arts” course, an idea originating via Leadership Music alumni John Esposito, President & CEO of WMN, and Ellen L. Meyer, President of Watkins. The class brings together a multidisciplinary team of filmmakers, graphic designers and photographers to interact with the creative team at Warner Music Nashville and conceptualize a visual approach to branding new artist(s). Students develop various scenarios, pitch the team at WMN and, if approved, execute these ideas which might include photo shoots, music videos, album covers or any other representation across all media platforms.

Warner Music Nv logo“This partnership with Watkins allows us the unique opportunity to foster new talent in visual arts while also giving our creative team an outside perspective which is invaluable,” said Shane Tarleton, VP/Creative Director at WMN. “I am so very proud of the relationships we have already formed and am genuinely excited about the possibilities ahead.”

“Our goal in partnering with Watkins was to exchange real world insights around the creative process,” said Jeremy Holley, SVP of Consumer & Interactive Marketing at WMN. “It’s been inspiring to see the level of talent, thought, and work ethic from their team and students. They have brought fresh ideas and great energy.”

Richard Gershman, chair and associate professor of the Film School, leads the class of 15 students including four Graphic Design majors, four Photography majors and seven Film majors.

“Thanks to WMN, our student graphic designers, photographers and filmmakers are diving into actual project scenarios to test and develop their skills in designing logos, graphics, photos, and music videos,” said Professor Gershman. “Through building a creative team, working up concepts, presenting a pitch, and dealing with expectations and feedback, these students are learning what it takes to successfully transition to a professional career.”

About Warner Music Nashville

Warner Music Nashville was created in 2009 with the goal of expanding the presence WMG and its family of labels has had in the Nashville music community for more than 60 years. The division is home to Warner Bros. Nashville, Word Entertainment, Atlantic Nashville, Elektra Nashville and the LoudMouth comedy label.

About Watkins College of Art, Design & Film

Approaching its 130th year of continuous education service, Watkins College of Art, Design & Film operates as an independent, non-profit, four-year, nationally accredited college of the visual arts, offering Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) degrees in Film, Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Interior Design and Photography, a Bachelors of Art (BA) in Art, and Certificates in Film and Interior Design. Visit

About this Professional Practices initiative

Watkins has recently added a Commercial Focus to its academic program, offering students unique opportunities for blending fine art sensibilities with commercial applications to develop their style, vision and conceptual abilities. Degree programs are built on a strong academic foundation with a hands-on, studio emphasis; with the addition of the real-world-caliber experiences from Commercial Focus classes and structured internships, graduates are well prepared to make an immediate impact in their marketplace.

Graphic Design Gets ‘Split & Twisted’ Oct. 23–Nov. 14

Posted on: October 7th, 2014 by Caroline Davis

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents Split & Twisted, the school’s annual juried graphic design student exhibition, from October 23–November 14 in the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery on campus.

Split & Twisted’s opening night reception, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 23, is free and the public is invited.

Split&Twisted 2014-BROJurying the show will be Senior Art Director Neely Tabor of Gish, Sherwood & Friends and several GS&F colleagues.

All Watkins Graphic Design majors are eligible to submit projects (created since September 2013) in 10 categories: Advertising, Books & Jackets, Identity, Illustration, Illustration Series, Package Design, Poster/Design, Publication Design, Multimedia, and Miscellaneous/Design.

Department of Graphic Design chair Dan Brawner, recognized as a “top instructor” by the international visual communications journal Graphis, will announce the category winners as well as best in show and faculty choice awards.

Watkins Graphic Design students and alumni are consistently among the most honored in the country through their submissions to regional, national and international advertising design competitions, particularly in the student and professional categories of the ADDY Awards (hosted by the American Advertising Federation). At the 2014 Nashville Student ADDYs, Watkins won more top-level awards than any other school competing (just as they did in 2012 and 2013), claiming nine Golds, eight Silvers and three of four Judge’s Choice Award.

Watkins students continue to blanket Nashville and the region with their intelligence, visual wit and creativity through unique opportunities with several beloved Nashville community events. In the past few years, their talents have been chosen to promote signature happenings such as the American Artisan Festival, the Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival, Split&Twisted 2014-SISMusic City Hot Chicken Festival, Nashville Sister Cities Program, Nashville Symphony and Nashville Opera performances, and Murfreesboro’s JazzFest, as well as the Nashville Scene’s “Best of Nashville” cover art.

Currey Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard in Metro Center. For more information, visit

About the program
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree program at Watkins College begins with a strong foundation in the basic principles and elements of design and typography. The curriculum then builds in complexity until students graduate with a professional, high quality, entry-level portfolio. Coursework effectively covers art, design, typography, technology, professional practices and the history of art and design. Small class sizes allow for each student to have individual consultations with faculty at every stage of assigned projects. Graphic design electives, including internships with area advertising and design agencies, enhance each student’s education. The curriculum culminates in the capstone course, Senior Portfolio Development, where each graduating senior works with senior faculty to polish his/her portfolio. Finally, the graduating class, as a team, puts together a senior exhibition that features their portfolios.

Thanks to senior Holly Carden for the Split & Twisted 2014 promotional artwork.

‘Terrible Three from Tennessee’ Come Home for WAG Graphic Design Show

Posted on: September 26th, 2014 by Caroline Davis

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents The Terrible Three from Tennessee (…now in Chicago), featuring work by Graphic Design alumni Julian Baker, Andy Gregg, and Shelby Rodeffer, at its downtown gallery WAG during the October 4 edition of the First Saturday Art Crawl.

Terrible Three from TN evite Oct 2014 WwebAccording to Dan Brawner, chair of the Graphic Design department, even before graduation, these three amazing creatives were making their mark in Nashville through highly visible design projects for classwork, popular festivals, internships and freelance gigs. Immediately upon graduation, Julian Baker (’09) was hired as lead designer at Jack White’s Third Man Records; Andy Gregg (’10) was hired as illustrator/designer at Anderson Design Group and, after working part-time at Isle of Printing and freelancing for Anderson Design Group, Shelby Rodeffer (’11) joined redpepper as designer/illustrator.

After a couple of insanely productive years, Andy quit his job to follow his heart (and girlfriend) to Chicago, and in no time, the global marketing and technology agency Digitas, offered him a design position. A short time later he recommended Shelby for a job there. She accepted, and her boyfriend, Julian Baker – who had, arguably, the most coveted design position in Nashville – faced a stay-or-go decision…but love won and he relocated with her. In addition to being a designer at Chicago-based BBDO Worldwide, he and Shelby also founded The Finer Things, a small business dedicated to the production of artful artifacts.

About the artists
Nashville native Andy Gregg is a graphic designer and illustrator working in Chicago. While on the full-time design staff at Anderson Design Group, Andy created work for such Nashville greats as the Grand Ole Opry, Vanderbilt University and the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards. Additional clients have included Ram Trucks, Creative Artists Agency, Gibson Guitar and Denny’s. Andy has received local and regional ADYY awards and has enjoyed attention from many cool design forums like Print, HOW, The Dieline, Design Work Life, and Laughing Squid. Visit his site for Writ Large Studio.

Shelby Rodeffer’s aesthetic is the result of growing up in Nashville, where she ate a lot of hot chicken, saw a lot of live music and learned a lot about letterpress. She a embraces evidence of the human hand in her work with fondness for art that merges typography and imagery. In the future, she hopes to go on adventures with her sign painting kit, then settle down to open up a print-studio-slash-pizza-place-slash-bicycle-repair-shop.  Visit

Julian Baker is a graphic designer on paper, but likes to dabble in as many industrious crafts as his hands can handle. The Finer Things, a small studio of artful artifacts which he co-founded with Shelby, is a way for him to balance all the time spent hunkered over a computer screen with the important practice of creating things that are real and tangible. When there is left over time after that, you can expect to find him tinkering with something on two wheels or fiddling with old cameras.  Visit

About the name
During the 1940s, The Chicago Tribune editorial cartooning staff consisted of three Nashville Tennessean cartoonists, Carey Orr (Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist), Joseph Parrish and Ed Holland, referred to as “The Terrible Three from Tennessee” by then-publisher Colonel McCormick.

WAG–an acronym for Watkins Arcade Gallery–is located in suite 77 upstairs in the historic Arcade and is open the first Saturday evening of the month during each Art Crawl (from 6-9 p.m.), and by appointment.

firstsaturdayartcrawl-bordered WwebWAG joins approximately 20 participating Art Crawl galleries along Fifth Avenue of the Arts and upstairs in the Historic Arcade. Admission is free, and the Nashville Downtown Partnership provides two free shuttles traveling among the venues. For more information on the First Saturday Art Crawl, visit

About WAG
The Watkins Arcade Gallery–WAG–is a public exhibition space of Watkins College of Art, Design & Film committed to serving the College community and the community at large through exhibitions and programs that enhance curriculum as well as engage a greater audience in the visual arts. WAG is dedicated to supporting the educational and cultural mission of the College by encouraging students to think independently and creatively about their art practice and role as critical thinkers within the cultural landscape. The venue will present shows year-round featuring work by Watkins students, alumni and other professional artists. For inquiries, contact WAG is the second Watkins-run gallery space, joining the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery,the primary exhibiting space on the College’s campus in Metro Center.

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