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Alumni Features

From prestigious graduate schools to opening their own studios and design firms, shooting in Hollywood and designing for companies like Apple, alumni from the Cal Poly Art and Design Department do incredible things. Read what some of our alumni have been up to since graduation.

 

 

Sabina Miklowitz

BFA, Art and Design: Photography, 2012 

Sabina Miklowitz Artwork

 

Sabina Miklowitz

Photography and Retouching

Concentration:

Photography

What have you been doing since you graduated?

I moved to NYC three months after graduating, spent a few years interning and freelancing, and then found full-time work as a retoucher, first for Michael Kors and now for Alice + Olivia. In my current role I also do backstage and show photography for our fashion week presentations and occasionally shoot content for our social channels.

Since graduation, what are your proudest accomplishments?

In the world of retouching, getting to work on the Travis Scott cover story for Rolling Stone was definitely a high point. I’m also proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish outside of retouching in my full-time roles; most notably the Michael Kors script logo I designed and hand lettered for a Collection bag that went down the runway, and most recently, a street style story I shot for Alice + Olivia in various spots around the Meatpacking District.

What was your experience like in the Art and Design Department at Cal Poly?

Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” philosophy was really crucial in preparing me for life after college. I feel that the hands-on experience we got with equipment as well as the classes where we worked with real clients gave me a big advantage when I started interning in New York because I was a greater asset on set and I could focus on learning advanced techniques since I was already comfortable with the basics.

About the image:  

This image is from an editorial I shot for Ladygunn Magazine. By chance I actually happened to sit across from Diandra (the model) on the train one day coming home from work, and I was instantly captivated by her ethereal beauty. This was one of the bigger productions I’ve done, with 8 looks and a full team at a studio that was kind enough to sponsor the project since there was no budget, and it was one of the only times I can think of where the resulting images almost perfectly matched the concept I’d envisioned.


 You can check out Sabina’s work at www.sabinamiklowitz.com

 

Jeff Kriege

BS, Applied Art and Design: Graphic Design, 2004

Jeff Kriege artwork

 

Jeff Kriege

Head of Design at HealthSherpa

Concentration:

Graphic design

What have you been doing since you graduated?

I worked at a design agency in SLO after graduating, 20|20 Creative Group, cut my teeth on branding for business there. Moved to SF, tripped into tech, ended up liking that world a lot. Started at Atlassian, then Intercom, Dropbox, and now HealthSherpa. Somewhere along the way I shifted from mostly brand and web work to product and UX design. I’ve enjoyed how this design practice leverages data, research, testing, modeling, etc to give a deductive framework to creative problem-solving.

What was your experience like in the Art and Design Department at Cal Poly?

Doing tons and tons of bad work until finally some nearly decent work emerged. Keep at it! The best results usually came from peer collaboration / competition / inspiration. 

What advice would you give art and design students at Cal Poly?

Take the “learn by doing” mindset to heart beyond the classroom—get some freelance work with real clients, make stuff with friends, have design side projects. And as long as you’re in college, embrace the theory/academic side—having all those “what is design?” type conversations that can develop and refine your point of view. But most importantly: Gus’s Deli > High Street.


You can see Jeff's company website at http://healthsherpa.com/.
 

Pete Ayer

BS, Applied Art and Design: Graphic Design, 2004

Pete Ayer artwork

 

Pete Ayer artwork

Pete Ayer

Designer and Founder of Moshpit Digital, a Full-service Creative Agency

Concentration:

Graphic design

What have you been doing since you graduated?

Initially, I continued my Skate / Surf brand out of college, which didn't make it through the '08 economy struggle. I had a couple of sweat equity partnerships, but ultimately in 2010 I started a little agency called Moshpit Digital. We're celebrating 10 years in 2020, and have worked with over 100 clients and brands.

Since graduating, what are your proudest accomplishments?

I'm very proud of my recent SLO Cider designs. Like my teachers always said, “your next project is your best project” and my 20 years of experience shines through my recent designs and branding for this local hard cider company. I've probably done 1,000 projects since college, so it's really hard to filter out what's better or standing out, but sometimes a small shirt design or a huge website is equal in gratification for me. I'm extra proud if I can integrate an abundance of creativity in the project since that's not always the case with clients and budgets.

What advice would you give art and design students at Cal Poly?

Be active in your critique. I feel this was a huge bonus for me, as I was always wanting feedback from teachers and students alike. A lot of my peers were somewhat afraid to showcase their project, but that's where the magic and growth occurs for the young artist.


You can see Pete's work at https://moshpitdigital.com/.
 

Barry Goyette

BS, Applied Art and Design: Photography, 1989

Barry Goyette artwork

 

Barry Goyette artwork

Barry Goyette

Photographer, Video Producer and Graphic Designer

Concentration:

Photography and video

What have you been doing since you graduated?

I started a studio within months of graduation and have been blessed with a successful career as a commercial photographer, graphic designer and video producer here in San Luis Obispo. I work for a mix of local, regional and national clients, in a variety of sectors, and I find time to pursue personal work on a regular basis.

Since graduating, what are your proudest accomplishments?

I’m lucky to get to work mostly on projects that I honestly feel proud of. I have a bit of a reputation for pushing my clients towards atypical or interesting solutions, and that has helped keep my work fresh. I also work with a lot of non-profits that focus on youth and the arts including a 15-year collaboration with the Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo that has allowed me to follow a number of creative pathways.

What was your experience like in the Art and Design Department at Cal Poly?

After several years struggling in a typical liberal arts university setting, I found that I thrived at Cal Poly largely due to its Learn by Doing philosophy. The project-based learning that is so central to the Art and Design Department allowed me to dive into work that I enjoyed, and allowed me to learn in a way that a more traditional university setting didn’t. The skills I developed during my time at Cal Poly gave me the confidence to start well out of the gate, and since then, I’ve never needed to look back.


You can see Barry's work at www.barrygoyette.com. You can also see a commercial Barry produced for the Civic Ballet’s The Nutcracker, which utilized the talents of local musicians Damon Castillo and Emily Wryn, as well as a video for their production of Rodeo.
 

Kate Meissner

BFA, Art and Design: Studio Art Concentration, 2017

Kate Meissner artwork

 

Kate Meissner artwork

Kate Meissner

Artist and Yale MFA Candidate in Painting

Concentration:

Studio art

What have you been doing since you graduated?

After graduation, I got my first apartment in SLO and have been working at Art Central downtown, while making paintings on my days off. As I built up a body of work, I decided to apply to graduate school for my MFA in Painting. I was accepted into my first-choice program, and will begin my work as a graduate student this year.

Since graduating, what are your proudest accomplishments?

I applied to several graduate programs and was given the opportunity to interview at each of the schools I was considering. I was excited to be offered a spot at every program I interviewed with, but ultimately decided to attend the Yale School of Art for my MFA in Painting and Printmaking and am so happy to have accepted. I will be moving to New Haven to begin classes in fall 2019.

What was your experience like in the Art and Design Department at Cal Poly?

The mentorships that developed with my professors during my time at Cal Poly were essential to evolving my identity as an artist and shaped my understanding of making meaningful work. I felt like my professors were really invested in what I was making, and having that kind of support and encouragement empowered me to make paintings that pushed the boundaries of what I thought possible. My experience at Cal Poly taught me that hard work and dedication are vital components in pursuing a career as an artist.


You can see Kate's work at www.katemeissner.com

Ashley Wertheimer 

BFA, Art and Design: Studio Art Concentration, 2009

Ashely Wertheimer artwork

 

Ashely Wertheimer artwork

Ashley Wertheimer

Artist and Founder of the Artist Residency A.I.R. Seven in Montana

Concentration:

Studio art

What have you been doing since you graduated?

Upon graduating, I moved back home to Southern California and chose to pursue activities that strongly influenced me at the time: art, organic food, and Taekwondo. I interned at Cherry and Martin Gallery (now called Phillip Martin Gallery), picked up a volunteer job selling farm-to-table produce in Santa Monica and Downtown LA, and earned my yellow belt by kicking a piece of wood so hard that it broke in half-alongside five-year-olds doing the same. All the while I continued to develop my artistic practice.

My boyfriend at the time, now husband, an Agriculture Major whom I met at Cal Poly, started apprenticing at a cattle ranch in CO. To join him, I created my own internship to help the ranch develop an artist residency program. After six months of pretending to be a ranch hand, painting and grant writing, I began the first stint of my “research year” to gather visual content for my art practice and traveled to the Middle East for three months followed by South America for six months. If you’re wondering, those first two years after graduating were entirely funded by the occasional sale of artwork, being a sign artist for Trader Joe’s, and painting heinous purple pandas and dolphins in bathrooms and bedrooms. Since then, I've been attending artist residencies, caring for a flock of sheep, and raising four border collies.

Since graduating, what are your proudest accomplishments?

I have created an artist residency program called A.I.R. Seven at my husband’s family ranch, Sieben Live Stock Company, a fifth generation cattle and sheep ranch in rural Montana. The mission of the program is not only to provide space and time for emerging artists to work on their projects, but also to create an opportunity for cross cultural pollination; connecting rural ranch families and urban artists through mutually beneficial exposure to contemporary art and land stewardship.

What was your experience like in the Art and Design Department at Cal Poly?

My undergraduate experience was unique in that nearly everyone in the studio concentration was eager to create. The energy was palpable. We challenged each other to think bigger and to work bigger. We would work late into the night, sometimes until 2 a.m. (or later), fueled by one another's motivation. Our experience and the caliber of our in-class critiques felt much more like grad school than undergrad, but we had that experience because we created it together. I feel so privileged to have been part of such a driven class with such incredible professors.

One of my biggest transitions in thinking caused by my time at Cal Poly has been to consider art history and culture in my practice. We as artists are cultural anthropologists creating contemporary artifacts, and I think that’s pretty darn incredible. I learned that having an awareness of what is going on in the art world and what has come before us is important, but that staying true to your work and remaining authentic trumps everything else. Cal Poly taught me that group critiques and studio visits are essential. The incredible artist and Cal Poly professor Michael Barton Miller once told me to consider everything learned while a student at Cal Poly and then to forget everything any professor has ever said. Ten years after graduating, I still find it hard to let go of some of those voices, but maybe it’s because I don’t want to.


You can see Ashley's work at residencyseven.com and ashleywertheimer.com

Tommy Garcia 

BFA, Art and Design: Photography Concentration, 2007

Tommy Garcia artwork

 

Tommy Garcia artwork

Tommy Garcia

Photographer

Concentration:

Photography

What have you been doing since you graduated?

I moved to Los Angeles and started assisting various photographers. I started as a lighting assistant and eventually became a Digital Tech. I worked for photographers like Art Streiber, Frank Ockenfels, Jill Greenberg, James White, Martin Schoeller and Matthew Rolston. Eventually, with all of that experience, I was able to build up enough contacts and clients and began shooting my own jobs. 

Since graduating, what are your proudest accomplishments?

I recently shot a couple campaigns for Beats by Dre. I worked with some of the most well-known athletes in the world on these projects. Also my most recent key art campaigns for Fox on shows like Gotham, LA to Vegas and The Orville. 

What was your experience like in the Art and Design Department at Cal Poly?

I think "Learn by Doing” was everything for me. Having access to the photo labs and studios, sometimes way after hours, was the biggest motivator for me. I really tried to take advantage of that time and push myself in ways teachers sometimes can’t be there to do. 


You can see Tommy's work at www.iamtommyg.com

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