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Art & Art History
University of Mississippi

Q&A with BFA Graphic Design Student, Maggie Bolinger

Introduce yourself and tell us where you are from?
My name is Maggie Bolinger, and I am from Nashville, TN.

What attracted you to the Department of Art & Art History?
Right before my tour at Meek, I toured the Journalism School. While touring the Journalism School, I was so nervous and felt like I did not have any answers to their questions. When I walked into the art department, I felt so comfortable and could relate to the subject matter around me. I had also toured several art departments and was always on the fence about my major. While I was touring here at Ole Miss I decided I wanted to study graphic design. The program and artwork displayed looked like something I could enjoy as a career. Besides that, I think Josh’s welcoming smile and excitement, while showing me around, made me instantly feel at home.

When did you start getting into art?
In my sophomore year of high school, I took a photography class, where I learned about Photoshop. This is where my passion for editing and creating in adobe started.

What type of artwork do you create, and can you explain your process?
In my most recent work, I created ads to promote travel. These prints/ads contain all elements of my most passionate areas of art. The prints began as colored photographs that were converted into digital cyanotypes. The digital cyanotypes were created by editing the hues of the images to appear as cyanotypes in Photoshop. Once the blue image is placed on the digital canvas, I drew on the edges to create the appearance of an image developed by the sun. Once the cyanotype was created, the layout and wording of the print were next. I would say these contain all the elements I enjoy of art because I get to create imagery and layouts while using fine art processes together to create ads. Despite mainly working with more modern/ digital techniques, I fell in love with the hands-on fine art process, so I am pleased that I have found a way to incorporate both

Has your artwork changed during the coronavirus?
My art has changed during the coronavirus in different ways. I have expanded my admiration for the earth/ nature by noticing my surroundings more. I have spent more time stopping to smell the flowers this year. I appreciate simplistic things in life more, and I feel that shows in my clean layout style. I wanted to focus more on making the surroundings of the designs be the highlight than the wording. The virus has also changed my artwork, because my thesis was formed around it in a sense. I created prints to promote travel when everything is restored. Even though the virus caused me to leave Europe too soon, it helped me to discover my passion of adventure and exploration.

What type of artist do you consider yourself?
I always tell people I am strictly talented digitally. I cannot draw or paint, but I love editing and designing content. I have also found that I enjoy marketing design and fast-paced group projects.

Which artists do you look to for inspiration?
I always look for inspiration on Dribble, be hance, Pinterest, and social media. Currently, I have been looking at Alexa Viscius’s work because she focuses mainly on image manipulation and show posters. She worked on a project using cyanotypes as an event poster, this started my thought process for my thesis work. Other designers I have been following lately are Holly Johnson, ToTo Design, and Argo by design. All of these artists mainly work with photo manipulation and layout which are my two favorite aspects of working with design.

With exhibitions moving online, could you tell us about your BFA thesis?
My BFA Thesis is inspired by my time abroad. When I was abroad, I learned so much about myself, the world, and life. When I was sent home, I felt so heartbroken. I also had realized how happy and inspired I was to explore new cultures. I wanted to create posters to help bring awareness to younger audiences that can be used on walls, social media, websites, etc. to promote travel. Something I loved the most was seeing new things constantly, when I went home it was such a drastic change. Everything was the same. I want these posters to motivate people to explore and get inspired by new experiences when we can travel again.

These prints show my love for travel, photography, fine art, and design all in one. I have been so excited to create and share them.

What has been your favorite class during your years here?
The class that has always stuck with me the most was Typography. I also really enjoyed the Alternative Processes and Ceramics classes.

Did you take an online, remote, or hybrid art class? Did it change your way of creating art or learning experience?
Yes, I have taken all three. It has changed a lot of things I miss being in class and interacting with the staff and students. It has changed the way I have learned. I have had to find new ways to get creative, but it has been nice to be in different environments. I also have not missed carting a ton of supplies to Meek.

Which professors inspired you the most?
I love all of Ginny’s letterpress work. I especially love her most recent work that was in the gallery. I would love to create work like that. Ever since her typography class, I have admired and respected her. Ginny was so hard on me while working on my logo, she continued to push and work with me on it so much. Matt and Lauren also never failed to make me smile or help calm me down during stressful projects over the years.

Could you describe a favorite memory here in the department?
I will never forget the time I finally made a cylinder on the wheel and did not ruin it. Another great memory I have is when Stacy showed us how to change a tire!

What does the Department of Art & Art History mean to you?
The Art department has been a home to me for the past four years. Whenever I walk into Meek I can always find a friendly face.

Do you have any advice for incoming art students?
My best advice for incoming art students is to go to every class. Enjoy everything offered to you and be yourself! Also, do not forget that just because you are not studying math or law, does not mean that what you are working on is not meaningful or stressful.

What are you looking forward to when things get back to normal?
Traveling the world! I am also looking forward to being able to see family openly again.

How has the pandemic affected your life as an artist?
As an artist, the pandemic has taken away my joy of collaboration. I am a super indecisive person, and I gain so much from people’s input.

Can we find you on social media?
Instagram: @maggie_bolinger

Has social media helped you more during this time?
Social media has always been a huge part of my life. It gives me constant inspiration, especially with being cooped up a lot this year. I use it to see what is current in the world and what people want to show the world. I also have always enjoyed the communication and exposure it gives.

What’s your favorite thing about Oxford?
My favorite thing about Oxford is the tight-knit community. Where ever I go, I usually see a familiar face. It is also nice that everything is about 10 minutes away, and do not to forget the campus, it is beautiful.

What type of music do you listen to while your creating art?
I love all kinds of music. I go from listening to biggie smalls to Elton John all day. I have been into classic rock this past year.

What’s your favorite thing to watch while being a couch potato?
No matter how many times I have seen the series I can always sit down and binge Sex in the City. I also love watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
I am hoping to move to a big city. Because my favorite part of being in Italy was walking everywhere and feeling a part of the community. I hope to gain more experience through internships this summer. I am also looking for jobs in the music, fashion, and travel industry to work with social media design.