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Art & Art History
University of Mississippi

Q&A with Calyn Ashe (BFA Graphic Design)

Penny’s Dream
March 25-28th, 2024

Closing Reception
When: Wednesday, March 27rd, 2024, 4:30–6:00 PM
Where: Gallery 130, Meek Hall

Introduce yourself and tell us where you are from.
Hello, my name is Calyn Ashe. I am pursuing a BFA in Graphic Design, and I am from Hernando, MS – but before that I lived in Trinidad, CO.

What attracted you to the Department of Art & Art History?
I have always loved drawing and art since I was little, but it wasn’t until I moved to MS that I even thought I had a chance to pursue it as a career. When I was deciding to pursue a college degree, I decided that I would rather work in a field/career that I love than pursue a “safe” career that was guaranteed a job. That pretty much set me on the Art pathway, and eventually the Graphic Design emphasis here at the university.

What type of artwork do you create and can you discuss your process?
I view myself as a designer and an illustrator, so I tend to create digital pieces that vary from branding and logo design to more narrative-driven work. No matter what I’m creating, I always research as much as possible to have a solid background for what I make. Even if the knowledge that I gain from my research isn’t visually told in the piece, it makes me feel more connected to what I make and in turn communicates my passion to the viewer. After researching, I begin the actual design process by working through a bunch of iterations of an idea. Professor Barnes has pretty much drilled into my head that the first idea is most likely not the best idea – so I like to give myself a few different directions to pursue. Once I’ve decided on a design, then it’s just a matter of cleaning it up and finishing it off.

Which artists do you look to for inspiration?
My work is influenced by the illustrations of Goro Fujita and conceptual design work of El Lissitzky. Fujitas work speaks to fantasy and escapism, themes I cultivate in, and I find his multidisciplinary practice relates to my own. I work in mostly digital mediums, but similar to Fujita, I am interested in how my work communicates through both physical and digital spaces. Lissitzky offers a historical inspiration, as his bold shapes and typography were utilized for societal commentary. I look to incorporating depth and dynamism through type in my design work, and Lissitzky provides a range of reference for that.

Which professors inspired you the most?
I would say that Professors Tyler Barnes and Bryce Heesacker have inspired me the most during my two years here. Prof. Heesacker has helped me grow conceptually in every class that I have taken of his – I think he has helped me understand who I am as an artist and how best to verbally communicate that. His classes have also helped push me to try out different mediums such as video and sound art – something I never would have thought to even touch otherwise. Prof. Barnes is who I can credit with helping me expand my skill in graphic design. He has helped me push my design concepts further and to be more intentional, and I am truly grateful for all of his guidance.

What has been your favorite class during your years here?
My favorite class was probably Digital Video. I made my first animation in that class, and it was a lot of fun being exposed to so many different genres of video art.

Do you have a favorite memory here in the department?
A favorite memory was probably when I was preparing for Forum last semester. I was in the lab with a few other students, and it was really fun being around everyone while we all were preparing together. The connection we all have really solidified as we united over stressing about printing and getting everything matted.

Do you have any advice for incoming art students?
Don’t be afraid to try new things or take classes that you think are outside of your “craft.” One of the things I regret is not trying more things outside of my emphasis. Obviously make sure that you’re on track to graduate, but if you have the opportunity to take a book arts class or an alt photo class, then do it! You would be surprised at how it can change your outlook on your own artistic practice.

Do you have any hobbies outside of the art department?
I really enjoy reading fantasy books, watching anime, and doing puzzles.

What is your favorite thing about Oxford or the University?
I think the community you can find here is really awesome. The University is big, which can be pretty intimidating, especially as a transfer student. But there really are a lot of opportunities to meet people and connect, you just have to put yourself out there and try!

Can we find you on social media?
I have an Instagram @caashe2020 – I swear I’m trying to post more than once a year!

Do you have any plans after graduation?
I plan to take at least a small break right after graduation – but after that I’m hoping to get an internship and start making my way into the professional world!