Meet Rebekah Hanover Pettit —MFA student

Hello. My name is Rebekah Hanover Pettit.

After a previous life in audio visual production, I went back to school to become a designer. I’m an obsessive learner, and now work as a senior graphic designer at a D.C. cultural site and non-profit.

Why I decided to go back to grad school…

I decided to go to grad school for two reasons. I’ve taught as an adjunct and LOVE it. But I also believe in design and designers. Because design is experience and perspective and interaction it has the potential to bring positive change to individuals and communities.

I wasn’t sure I’d ever get the chance to pursue my MFA. Most programs require you to go full-time, uproot your family, or take on astounding amounts of debt. Finding KU is helping me fulfill a dream I didn’t think would ever be possible.

Tell us about/describe your KUCD MFA journey thus far…

So starting, actually starting, has been and emotional rollercoaster. I already had a full life with work and family, and the week before I started I was given some big, additional responsibilities at work. So I really questioned if I should perhaps delay another year, but I decided to not let circumstances and surprises derail my plans. It’s going to be a lot of work, and I’m carving out every minute I can find. I’ve also discovered a lot of support, from coworkers who share research or offer to assist with editing to artists I’ve commissioned who just provide that extra boost of encouragement and reassurance.

Honestly, Journey Week might be a little bit of a blur. It’s a lot of work. It’s exhausting, and it’s a bit of a shock to the system. But it’s also about getting your head in the game at the level you want to be and pushing each other to dig deeper and go further. I just need to remember to bring a much larger refillable mug for my coffee refills.

What has been your favorite project to date? Please tell me why.

I’m currently examining how experiential design can include or exclude cultural diversity, as well as taking a deep dive into non-Latin-based typography. Both are topics that are important to me and immediately relevant to my day job.

Fun fact about you.

  • I can’t whistle. Although I try, frequently, when working out a problem. I’m surprised none of my co-workers has complained…yet.
  • I have far too many interests for any one individual: I like to pretend I have a green thumb, and so far the blueberries have survived to year 2. I’ve tried to make most everything from scratch at least once. The crackers still need some work. I’m great with bread. Yogurt continues to be a complete failure.
  • I also play or played several instruments. Although those skills have been getting a bit rusty prepping for this program, they have served me well. I am able to make up silly songs for my preschool daughter on command.

  • And I don’t care what anyone says, the “old fashion” or “cake” donuts are the BEST. I consume a fair amount of coffee (don’t we all!). I prefer it black and keep a remarkable amount of equipment at home to make it…none of which require electricity.

Meet Jen Pepper—MFA student

Hello my Name is… Jen Pepper!
I am a graphic designer and wedding stationer living on the coast of New England with my husband and our corgi. I’ve spent my design career branding small businesses, designing catalogs, creating a line of home goods, and illustrating crazy-cool wedding invitations.

Why I decided to go back to grad school…

I decided to pursue my MFA in design so that I can pass on my skills and knowledge by becoming a college professor in graphic design.

Tell us about/describe your KUCD MFA journey thus far…

I am thrilled to be on the MFA journey, and it already has made me look at life a little differently. There are only so many hours in a given week, so what I choose to take on has to be worth it. Finding a work-life balance has always been a little tricky. Add school into the mix, and it has forced me to think more about what I can fit on my plate, and what I can feel good about declining.

Journey week is the first week of the semester, and it’s a little bit of a mystery coming into the program. Will I be the oldest person there? (our group is well balanced with those who are starting their design careers and those who have been in the business for a while) Will I be intimidated by other people’s design skills? (everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, don’t compare yourself to other people. Stretch your abilities and yourself!) Will I survive this? (Yes. You may be exhausted, but you will love it!) Think of it as a process that will guide you to what you will ultimately be working on for the rest of the semester.

Throw caution to the wind, let your guard down and get to know the people who make up your crazy little pack of grad students. You’ll laugh, you might cry (totally cool if you do!), and you might end up telling these people way more about yourself that you ever thought you would! It’s kind of like starting a secret club with a random group of strangers who end up having way more in common than you thought possible. There will be late nights, there may be early mornings, but most of all, it will be a process that you need to trust.

What has been your favorite project to date? Please tell me why.

During journey week, one of the concepts I ended up exploring was the overwhelming popularity of making products pink to appeal to women. I don’t like the color pink and it got me asking, why does this happen so often? The history behind the color pink being for girls and blue being for boys is a contrived one. At one point it was dependent upon which department store you shopped in. This semester I’ve been writing an article that showcases a few additional ways women are often marketed to, why they don’t work, and what could be done to correct this behavior. I’ll also be examining the packaging of body products that are sold to men and women with different packaging. I hope to determine that gender-neutral packaging would attract more consumers.

Fun fact about you.

When I’m not stuck at my desk working, you might find me at a local bar hosting pub quiz or playing Ms. Pacman. I wear flip flops until it snows. I am also mildly obsessed with…Polar Seltzer (Yes, to Cherry lime-ade, and a hard pass on plain lemon). Walt Disney World (if you ever need an unofficial tour guide, I’m all yours). Those cheese and meat gift trays that appear during the holidays (who designs those geometric arrangements, and can I please shadow you for a week?) And binge watching repeats of Parks and Recreation.

Meet Sarah Sterner-Hausknecht—MFA student

Hello my Name is… Sarah Sterner-Hausknecht!

Hello! My name is Sarah Sterner-Hausknecht. I know. It’s a crazy long name. My name, like my life, used to be simple…and then I got married. Let’s back up a little. I discovered not only a love for art, but also a sense of belonging, during an advanced art class in high school. As someone who thrives on and enjoys being busy, I was involved in a lot of activities and had many friends and close acquaintances within the groups of people I participated in those activities with. But I never quite felt right and was often plagued with a feeling of not “belonging”. That all changed as soon as I stepped foot in an art class. I immediately felt welcomed and that I was “home” and had found my place. Closer to graduation my art teacher urged me to pursue Graphic Design. I started out at a local community college and then transferred into the undergraduate KUCD Design program at Kutztown University. My experience in the undergraduate KUCD program solidified my love and passion for design. I enjoyed every moment of the “design-butt-kicking” and plentiful “creative-boot-camp” sessions. Upon graduation I freelanced at a couple of companies and then accepted a full-time position with an in-house design group. Fast-forward 10-years and this is where it starts to get crazy Got married and had my first daughter. I was un-prepared for the conflict of feelings I had of being torn between my love and passion for design and for my newborn baby girl. I drug myself back to work after 3 months of enjoying non-stop, blissful, snuggle moments. I felt as though my heart wasn’t with design anymore. After 6-months, I took a leap off the cliff of comfortability and quit my full-time job in order to spend more time with my family. Then I missed art. I decided to start my own freelance-design business which quickly became a happy balance that consisted of my love for design AND snuggles with my daughter. The move away from my full-time career also opened my schedule up to include teaching a communication design course at a community college. I discovered that I loved inspiring a passion for design into others as much (perhaps even more) as I enjoyed creating. A love for teaching became the initial catalyst in my decision to go back to school and apply to Kutztown University’s M.F.A. program in Communication Design.

Why I decided to go back to grad school…

Over time, my career journey has grown and taken various paths that has led me to KUCD’s MFA program. I decided that if I were to enter the full-time workforce again, I wanted it to be teaching full-time, which will require the next level degree. I also found my freelance career becoming stagnant, stale and uninspired. I am attending KUCD’s MFA program to build on my teaching capabilities, to re-fresh the perspective that I bring to my freelance business and also for myself. I am now a mother of two amazingly magical daughters. Outside of art & design, they are my entire world and I am their primary caregiver. I find that I give so much of myself as well. Attending the program is as much for me for self-care reasons as it is for growing my freelance business and teaching careers.

Tell us about/describe your KUCD MFA journey thus far…

I feel like the squeal of joy, that emitted from me on day I received my acceptance into the KUCD MFA program, could have been heard around the world. Excitement quickly turned to panic as I pondered what would be instore for me during that first Journey Week of the program. Journey Week was AMAZING! Emotionally it was a roller-coaster journey from anticipation to defeat; enthusiasm to self-doubt. Journey Week can be described as an intensive of collaboration between other students enrolled in the program and the professors. They are there for you every step of the way, supporting and inspiring your work. There are deadlines (homework) every day. But this is to ensure the proper amount of exploration and growth of your work while on-campus. That work will act as the springboard for your work starting week two. You can expect a tour of the Sharadin Art building and all their printing/fabrication capabilities. During journey week you can get to know your peers, collaborate, and experience a letterpress adventure where you take a hands-on approach learning the basics of how to set type and work a table-top letterpress.

What has been your favorite project to date? Please tell me why.

I am very excited about the projects I am currently working on. Shortly before starting journey week I became sick with Lyme Disease which inspired me to formulate a field guide approach to identify and understand common vector-born diseases regionally. I also plan to include an “on-the-go” kit that will have a quick reference card, materials to repel insects and treat bites, and tick extraction tools (featured for this region). Another project I’m working on is a “Try Kit” that parents can use to work with their children to get comfortable with and celebrate failures. Experiencing failure fosters growth for success and instilling that concept in our children can be beneficial to how they approach failure in the future. The kit will contain literature for parents and chart style positive reinforcement for each time your child continues to try a task, whether they have failed or not, by earning stickers and badges. There will also be trading cards to explore with your child that each feature well known people throughout history that experienced failure in order to achieve that great accomplishments your child may be learning about in school.

Fun fact about you.
In general, I consider myself not to be very interesting. I purposefully keep myself very busy, constantly on-the-go, and absolutely positively cannot live without CHOCOLATE! I practiced ballet for 26 years of my life and of the many activities I have tried and practiced throughout my life the ones I continue to enjoy doing are basket weaving and practicing calligraphy.

Seniors on Internship!

Kutztown University Communication Design (KUCD) produces some of the finest designers in the field. We like to think it is because we treat our students like real designers from the start and expect professionalism throughout their experience. The capstone of that experience is our internship program.

At it’s best, a KUCD internship is beneficial to both the intern, and the design firm. The benefits to the student are probably a little clearer. They get to hang out with real-world designers and put everything they have been learning into practice. They finally get to work with real live art directors, fill out job-sheets, and meet the infamous “clients.” They can begin to understand the challenges that come in a real design studio whose purpose is not only to make effective and beautiful design, but also to prosper as a business. And, if they are lucky, they will learn the thrill of holding their first real printed piece in their hands and smelling the ink, or they’ll get to see their first real website up and running. It is so much more than a bullet point for their resume that isn’t just waitress, cashier, or camp counselor. It’s their first big toe in the real world.

You can learn more about our amazing internship opportunity:

The National Poster Retrospecticus Comes to KU

The National Poster Retrospecticus is an internationally traveling poster show. The NPR features more than 400 hand-printed posters made by over 150 of the most prominent poster designers around the world. We’ve traveled all over North America visiting bombed out basements, rad community spaces and fancy art galleries. We’ve shown in venues like The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Library of Congress, Lego HQ, and at events like SXSW and Adobe Max. Our mission is to celebrate posters and help spread that enthusiasm around the world. We wanna travel everywhere!

The National Poster Retrospecticus will be in the Miller Gallery until November 16th. Don’t miss your chance to see this amazing show! The Miller Gallery is open Tues-Fri : 10am-4pm Sat : 12-4 Sun : 2-4

KUCD graduates living and working in Denmark for the LEGO Group

You never know where your Kutztown University education and degree may take you. The sky is the limit, it all depends on what your goals are, where you set your sights, and if you apply yourself. Just ask Lauren King ’08, Madison O’Neil ’13, Megan Blair ’13 and Austin William Carlson ’12, all Communication Design graduates living and working in Denmark for the LEGO Group.

Explains O’Neil, a graphic designer for the LEGO® Star Wars™ division for about a year now, “It is something special,
working for a company that is so recognizable and beloved by lots of children and adult fans around the world. You feel like you’re part of a legacy.”

Full Article

By Design is back.

ByDesign has a long history in the Communication Design Department. What began as an in-print newsletter is now our KUCD blog. Professor Emeritus John Landis began the original in the 1970s as a way to communicate the successes of KUCD Grads. He writes:

“In the 1970s I saw the need for a newsletter featuring what graduates were doing. We were starting to hear such great things about the careers of grads from the newly-formed Advertising Art major, as it was called. I knew a newsletter would serve the dual purpose of sharing info with other grads, as well as a sales tool to give to visiting prospective students and their parents. It was also, in my own vanity, a way for me to always take the first column of the first page for my “editorial.” I like to write and always had something I wanted to talk about. Some of my topics, especially those of a philosophical nature, were better than others.

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Straight Outta’ Kutztown to MoCCA, NYC

by Kevin McCloskey
posted originally on

Kutztown University illustration students will have a table at the 2018 MoCCAfest in NYC. We will be among a select group of colleges at MoCCAfest, the indie comic showcase in New York City. Most of the other tables will be small presses, large presses, distributors, and independent comics creators. The fest is held April 7 and 8 this year at Metropolitan West, 639 W 46th St, NYC. MoCCA, by the way, stands for Museum of Cartoon and Comic Art, now part of the Society of Illustrators.

Meet KUCD MFA student – Alexis Grant

Alexis Grant is currently working on her MFA in Communication Design here at Kutztown University. Her work included illustration, motion graphics and researching the connection between food and love. We sat down and asked Alexis a couple questions to get to know her better.
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