Digital Design grads draw up attractive futures

April 27, 2017 / by / 0 Comment


Tanner Lueders (left) and Olivia Garrett, both graduating Digital Design students, already have jobs at the same company.

By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau

Tanner Lueders and Olivia Garrett, both Digital Design majors who graduated Thursday morning from the College of Fine Arts and Production, stood side by side earlier this week before tables strewn with colorful examples of their creativity.

They were two of 35 seniors whose polished projects were on display for a large crowd at the Digital Design Senior Portfolio Review Showcase on Tuesday night at Grand Canyon University.  

But unlike most of the graduating seniors, Garrett and Lueders don’t have to say goodbye to each other after Thursday’s commencement exercises. They will continue to work side by side in full-time jobs at Chandler-based DBSI, an interior design/construction company that specializes in credit unions and banks.

Jason Bartley, shown here at a portfolio showcase at Symphony Hall, says he runs with a a “large circle of really creative Phoenicians.”

“He sits right next to me at my new job,” said Garrett, who on that same day had accepted a position as a junior graphic designer and social media expert. 

The showcase overflowed with faculty, staff, relatives (Garrett’s parents were there) and curious visitors who snaked around tables laden with eye-grabbing graphic designs on T-shirts, business cards and glossy magazines.

There were intricate illustrations, snazzy drawings and stunning photography. Laptops glowed with clever web designs, and one student, Jason Bartley, showed off a foot-long clay sculpture of a dragon.

About half the seniors have already landed related jobs, said Sheila Schumacher, GCU’s Digital Design director.

“We push networking a lot,” Schumacher said. “We try to make sure they know where the jobs are, that they work closely with GCU’s career services (Career IMPACT Center) and that they know how to apply for a job.”

Bartley graphically designed inspirational books such as this one with the message, “Say ‘Yes.'”

The sleek portfolios on exhibit were as unique their creators, Schumacher said.

“They each have their own personality, and it shows,” she said.

They also are taught to identify five traits that serve as talking points about their excellence, one trait for each finger.

Alysha Clark, for example, said her words are: “joyful, harmonious, intentional, relational and organized.” One logo she created says in cursive writing, “Choose Joy Always.”

“My end goal is to work for a nonprofit like Make-A-Wish Foundation,” she said.

Alex Rowland’s words are “tenacious, adventurous, above and beyond, empathetic and adaptive.”

Rebecca Cruz said the main word that describes her is “daring.”

“If they give me an idea, I want to make it better. I want to make it 10 times better,” she said.  

“My word is prolific,” said Lorenzo Mendoza. “I make a lot of stuff. I’m always coming up with new ideas.”

Another design by Bartley.

In addition to the dragon sculpture, Bartley’s table contained inspirational books, drawings, illustrations, photographs, web designs, stickers and cards.  

“My skills range greatly,” he said. “I do all things well, not one thing exceptionally well. My portfolio consists of my design portfolio. Graphic design, logos, a little bit of web, digital painting and illustration.”

In the short run, Bartley is returning this summer to two camp counseling jobs in Prescott. But after that he said he “fully expects” to have a full-time job designing T-shirts for X-Treme Apparel.

He previously had been recruited for an internship at Boom Digitus, a Phoenix creative marketing advertising firm.

“It really got me involved in the industry,” he said. “There is a large circle of really creative Phoenicians that are working on large projects. I run with them now.’’

He said that GCU’s Digital Design degree program has prepared him well for his career.

“The students who attend here are very driven, and the support of the teachers creates an environment that is challenging and pushes us to be our best,” Bartley said.

Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or

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