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HU students receive praise

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By Margaret McKinney
Highlands University

New Mexico Highlands University media arts students received praise during a portfolio review with the New Mexico chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts April 9 in Santa Fe.

Fourteen New Mexico AIGA members reviewed the Highlands students’ work, including Fred Cisneros, principal for Cisneros Design, a full-service graphic design and branding firm in Santa Fe.

“The work of the Highlands media arts students is very proficient technically, and they’re also extremely creative,” said Cisneros, who is a founding member of the New Mexico American Institute of Graphic Arts. “The purpose of graphic design is to communicate a message, and elicit a response from the viewer. It has to transcend aesthetics and be relevant.

“The Highlands students are strong at developing the concept behind their design ideas, something you often don’t see in students. This comes from the quality of their instruction.”

Cisneros said the university’s media arts faculty excels at supporting, encouraging, and critiquing their students’ work, helping them refine their skills.

“I’m also impressed by the Highlands students’ commitment and passion for design, and their ability to communicate their ideas about their work,” Cisneros added.

Media arts professor Andrew Wollner is a longtime American Institute of Graphics Arts member. This is the third year the organization has invited Highlands students to present their work at the portfolio review. Wollner hand-picks the students he takes to the reviews.

“When you are reviewed by industry professionals you know how you measure up,” Wollner said.

“Our students were told they are ready to enter the job market, and the reviewers are interested in keeping in touch for future job openings.

“Our media arts students are intelligent with their choices, taking advantage of the opportunities we give them. They accept constructive criticism well, and crave more. Events like this portfolio review build professional maturity, and toughness,” Wollner added.

Wollner said he admires the media arts students’ work ethic, and how determined they are to succeed.  

For the portfolio review, the students’ work included magazine layout, poster design, web design, and branding and identity design. The students developed their designs for media arts classes, internships, and real-world clients.
This year Wollner selected graduate students Keisha Brathwaite, Gabriel Garcia, and Jose Weber to participate in the AIGA portfolio review along with undergraduates Jose Crispin, Jonathon Lujan, and Joshua Phillips.

“The AIGA reviewers told us exactly what employers look for in portfolios, and I got helpful feedback from industry professionals on how to improve my work,” said Brathwaite, a 25-year-old from Grenada. “They also pointed out my pieces that were well designed, and encouraged me to submit my work to the upcoming AIGA Showdown competition.”

The annual New Mexico AIGA Showdown is a competition that showcases the work of design professionals.