What it's like to study Graphic Design and Multimedia Arts at Centenary


Christina Allanson ’10

Freelance graphic designer

Centenary College Graphic Design major »

Christina Allanson ’10 is excited to see what the future holds. “I’ve learned that I love to design for print,” she says. “My dream job is to design stationery and paper goods. It’s satisfying to see a finished piece that you can use for practical purposes — like wrapping paper or a wedding invitation.”

Christina, who recently received a B.F.A. in Graphic Design and Multimedia Arts from Centenary, is currently working as a freelance graphic designer for a number of clients. “Freelance gigs require a lot of thought — you have to understand the nature of the work, write a contract, and be prepared to answer clients’ questions,” she says. “Fortunately, Centenary taught me to organize my work and budget my time. I know what has to be done, and I give myself deadlines that are way ahead of schedule.”

Christina selected Centenary because she felt that its Graphic Design program would complement her background in digital media technology, which she studied at the County College of Morris. “When I came to Centenary, I had a strong foundation in software,” she explains, “and I wanted to use that to create some great visual designs.” She cites her Centenary advisor, Professor Gary Caal, as an influential force during her college career: “He was encouraging, but he also offered honest criticism of my projects to help me improve.”

Christina also sees a direct link between undergraduate work and the professional world: “Graphic Design students need to work hard,” she says, “because the projects we do in school wind up in the portfolios we take to job interviews. The projects you do at Centenary will have an impact on your career, so slacking is not an option!”

Caitlin Staley ’08

Graphic Designer, Red Ledge

Centenary College Graphic Design major »

When it came time for Caitlin Staley ’08 to choose a college, she knew she wanted a “small and close-knit community” like the one in which she grew up. “I knew I wouldn’t be ‘just a number’ at Centenary,” she explains, “and at the Open House I attended, I realized that I would study a wide range of fashion-related topics there. I knew I wanted to earn a degree in Fashion, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. Centenary provided me with the opportunity to explore a wide variety of topics within the major.”

Caitlin cites both Professor Virginia Elsasser and Trish Mahaffey, Director of Internships and Experiential Programs, as important influences during her undergraduate years. “Professor Elsasser urged me to participate in an internship to help me understand what I wanted to do for a living,” she says, “and Trish helped me to find one with Red Ledge, an outerwear company. After I graduated, Red Ledge offered me my first full-time position as a graphic designer. If it weren’t for their guidance, I might not be where I am today.”

Centenary provided Caitlin and her classmates with the skills necessary to succeed in the professional world. The wide range of topics covered by the Fashion curriculum “gave me insight into how many career options I have. Thanks to my broad educational background and abilities, I am not limited to one specific job,” she says. “I also learned to hold myself to the highest professional standards. My professors pushed me to do my best and had so much to share.”

Caitlin’s immediate goals include transitioning from graphic design to apparel design, but later in her career, she hopes to teach fashion courses. “I’m passionate about what I do and would love to pass my knowledge on to future generations,” she comments, “just as the professors at Centenary did for me.” 

Amanda Baratta ’11

Graphic Design major
Intern, Andrea Mistretta Illustration & Design Studio

Centenary College Graphic Design major »

When Amanda Baratta ’11 graduates with a B.F.A. from Centenary next year, she’ll enter the professional world with a strong set of credentials. Amanda, a current Graphic Design major, has worked as an intern for Andrea Mistretta Illustration & Design Studio in Waldwick, N.J. since 2009. “I feel so fortunate to have this internship. The experience I’ve received has been priceless,” she comments. “If you’re majoring in Graphic Design, you need to develop good business sense.” Additionally, when she’s not at her internship, Baratta maintains a career as a freelance graphic designer and fine artist.

Amanda cites Centenary instructor Bruce Abolafia, with whom she took a course in the history of graphic design, as a positive influence on her development. “Bruce was an excellent teacher who made the class fun,” she comments. “He really pushed us to think outside the box.” The busy intern and full-time student admits her college course load has kept her busy, but “that’s where good time management skills come in.”

In the future, Amanda hopes to balance her career in graphic design with work in illustration and fine arts. She knows that she’ll be prepared to transition to the real world after graduation. “Centenary’s Graphic Design curriculum has helped me to create a strong portfolio that I can use in job interviews,” she says. “If you’re planning to major in Graphic Design here, I’d encourage you to do your research and practice your art!”

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