Art students are notorious for sleepless nights, perfectionistic attitudes and impossible standards. It’s about adapting the idea that nothing is ever really done. There’s always a critique to consider, a professor to impress and ever-approaching deadlines.

Erica Duda, 23, a graphic design major from Sheboygan Falls, Wisc., began her journey at Colorado Mesa University in the fall of 2013. She started studying kinesiology, but began noticing more and more that instead of paying attention in class, she was paying attention to doodling across her notes.

“I hated biology and chemistry. But I took a class freshman year, a foundation class, just a 101 class, which was supposed to just be an elective for an art credit. My professor, Alison Harris, loved my work and told me I was in the wrong major,” Duda said.

“She inspired me and inspired my parents to support my decision to change majors and it was the best decision I could’ve made.”

Duda knew she wanted to pursue graphic design specifically when she made the leap into art. However, CMU did not have a developed graphic design program. So she left to pursue a graphic design education at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Through a constant turning of events, the university began losing professors in the graphic design programs and eventually it shut down.

Now Duda is back at CMU. Unfortunately, nearly no credits transferred with Duda when she returned. She is set to graduate in the spring of 2020 and she has continued to pursue both graphic design and studio art.

“I ran into Alison Harris when I came back here. She stopped me and asked if I was a student of hers. I said yes and she asked me if my last name was Duda. I told her it was a long story.”

Courtesy of Duda

Each semester, art students are decorated with projects and assignments throughout the year. This year, Duda looks forward to package design.

“Last semester we had to redesign a beer package. We had to find the measurements and the template of the package, completely recreating it. The design part was fun because it was all about research on the origin of the beer and how it was created and drawing inspiration from that beer,” Duda said.

She researched the beer to discover it had to do with 90s rap music such as Eazy E, and so she designed a package that showed a cityscape of Milwaukee, the town the beer was crafted, with flashing colors and a record on the side. There was also a record label on the bottle to tie it all together.

Duda foresees herself working for a company initially and hopes to go to Switzerland to work on studio art.

“I honestly have no fear for my career because I know I’m going to fail.”

“I know my projects are not going to be perfect from the start. Maybe the only fear I have is people all of a sudden liking my work. You can’t succeed unless you fail,” Duda said. 

For now, Duda looks forward to creating her own children’s book as part of her graphic design education. She pushes to learn all types of design and being open to learning and using new idea. She finds inspiration based off traveling and seeing how people around the world create design.

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Casey Smith
Casey Smith is a sophomore at Colorado Mesa University studying English and Criminal Justice with minors in Psychology and Sociology. She is the Editor of Photography for The Criterion and has been photographing since 8 years old. After undergraduate, she plans to continue her education by attending law school.

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