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Building a Global Design School

Sessions Creative Director Patricio Sarzosa has spent a lot of time lately working on a project close to his heart. Entitled “Design Local/Study Global,” the project is an international showcase that features the work of Sessions alumni from all over the world. And we do mean all over the world: from Belize to Belgium, from Germany to Gibraltar, the Design Local gallery, which was launched on March 1st, 2012, aims to show design grads applying their skills in every conceivable cultural context.

It’s a pet project for Patricio because he hails from Quito, Ecuador. Earning his Double BA: Major in Graphic Design and Photography, and major in painting and sculpture, at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Patricio came to New York in the late 1990s, joining a young, upstart Internet company called sessions.edu. In its early days, Sessions was a very international school, located in New York’s Soho, staffed by a typical mix of downtown creatives from Norway, Sweden, Australia, China, and Korea as well as the USA.

And in those early days of dialup connections, many of the school’s first students were international too. “When I joined Sessions in 2001,” recalls the school’s current President Gordon Drummond, “our student gallery, our catalog, was populated with outrageously good work from far-flung places. I remember seeing terrific designs from Romania, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, India—in addition to great work from students in our own backyard. From the beginning one of the most exciting things about Sessions was the ability to work with students who could be literally anywhere.”

In the ten years since, many things at Sessions have changed. Once a little boutique New York school, the school is now an Arizona based, degree-granting institution with a growing enrollment, and a recognized leader and innovator in online education. But the international dimension has remained a constant and unique aspect of the school.

“After our 10-year accreditation cycle, we started looking for ways to celebrate what’s truly unique about Sessions,” notes Drummond. “And one thing that’s unique is our geographical reach over time. Sessions was the first fully online accredited school of design. Unlike many other traditional schools with hybrid programs, online art/design education is what we do. And it’s enabled us to reached a truly global audience. We’ve graduated students from over 80 countries.”

To celebrate the school’s milestone, Sessions staff started a project called Design Local/Study Global. The title was Patricio Sarzosa’s idea. “Design is an international language,” he explains “The concept of the international gallery was to find an interesting way to explore some alumni projects and also discover where we have graduated students. The basic idea was to create an interactive gallery, using country flags, location dots, and arrows to invite people to explore.”

Here are some notes on his creative process: “The logo treatment for ‘Study Global/Design Local’ was created with a clean font and in caps to enforce the importance of the concept. Two tones of the same color help us to differentiate the two parts of the name. Then we incorporated a shape of the continents, and since the alumni group at Sessions comes from everywhere, with different cultural backgrounds, we decided to represent that with a multicolored map, in which different continents have different colors.”

The gallery includes images of students and featured professional projects, together with interviews that reflect on applying design skills where they live. The process of thinking about design or working with a client is often translated into another language.

The gallery features some fascinating case studies of design projects that could only happen in one location. There’s the story of Grenadian designer Kurt who created a packaging design for a rum brand, using the Caribbean island’s geographic coordinates as a concept. Or South African designer Lesley designing a coffee table book on the Hermanus whales that surface just off the coast in her native town. There’s Zaur from Azerbaijan designing the country’s first yellow pages app, or Gregory from Belize packing out night clubs with his vivid Soca music event posters.

And in a nice twist of fate, the project also featured some wonderful CD cover art created by Ecuadorean designer Jose Garcia, a former Sessions student from Patricio’s home town. “What better for me than to see a school alumni from my own country doing something great, and thinking out of the local box,” says the creative director.

In the months ahead, staff expect the school’s international alumni project to grow as Sessions College prepares for its first annual commencement ceremony, another landmark for the school. Interviewed in New York, the Scottish-born Drummond remarked: “What’s important to me about this project is firstly to celebrate student achievement, and secondly to celebrate what online education can mean for students at a distance in the U.S. and abroad. We live in a time where there is a lot of misunderstanding of distance learning (not to mention some politically fueled hostility). It’s too easy to forget that online education can do amazing things for students—or to put it another way, it can help some amazing students achieve their potential.”

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Graduation Announcement

Congratulations to our featured graduates: Amber, Ashley, Carlos, Katie, Mary, and Matt.

On Wednesday March 14th 2012, the following Sessions College students were issued certificates of graduation. On behalf of Sessions College faculty, staff, and directors, we congratulate each student on their achievement in meeting program standards and completing their course of study.

  • Amber Percival, Marketing Design Professional Certificate
  • Ashley Mackes, Digital Arts Professional Certificate
  • Carlos Orellana, Web Design Professional Certificate
  • Katie Newton, Graphic Design Advanced Certificate
  • Malka Mond, Graphic Design Professional Certificate
  • Mary Jenkins, Web Design Master’s Certificate
  • Matt Borg, Graphic Design Advanced Certificate
  • Milla Kettunen, Graphic Design Advanced Certificate

For information on Sessions College certificate programs, check out the Certificate Programs area.

A special International student shout out to students completing programs outside the United States: Milla (Finland), Matt (Malta), and Amber (Canada).

Did you know that Sessions College has graduated students from over 80 countries? Visit our International Student Alumni section for information on design projects from students around the world.

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March Gallery Highlights

It’s March, International Student Month at Sessions College. So it seems fitting that we have many geographically inspired works in our March Student Gallery.

Multimedia Arts certificate student Fay Latimer seems to be having entirely too much fun in her Print Design classes. For her African Arts and Crafts invite design, she decide to represent the continent typographically. The typography is well-executed, readable, and her type design pairs nicely with the mask image.

Graphic Design student Kirsty Gunn-Weager just found a new way to make carbs look appealing with her pizza box and bag design in Packaging Design class. Her design had several ingredients that we loved – an artsy but appetizing red, a nice balance of logo with illustration, an earthy brick (oven) effect, and compelling negative space created by…. what’s that shape?…. it’s a silhouette of Brooklyn of course! Fantastic, I’ll take this design to go, please.

Not geographical, but definitely a postcard from typography-land is Graphic Design student Heather Shepherd’s type design promotional card. Wow, not content with designing a hybrid typeface suitable for a remake of Wicked, Heather completed her outfit (and the overall composition) with an awesome shoe illustration. Typography + image = designer.

On a grittier note, we liked this rock poster-style Mozart festival design from design composition student Scott O’Leary. This project mirrors one of the themes of our Design Local International Student project, which is the ideas of creating immediately recognizable and compelling designs for a local audience. In design this local concert poster for the Bridge St venue in Collinsville, CT, Scott created a dramatic “Arrivals and Departures” composition out of the town’s bridge, really making the best out of a scene that lacks architectural detail.

After all that traveling, you need to kick back and have a glass of wine. At least, that’s what we thought when we saw CSS Layout student Heather Bishop’s marvelous winemaker site design. There are many things to admire in Heather’s layout – the liberal white space, the way the background draws you into the wine label, and the simple but elegant navigation and content loading. Paired with your favorite cheese, this site tingles the tastebuds.

For more March highlights, visit the student gallery.

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New Faculty Announcement

Sessions College is delighted to announce the addition of two new Faculty members in Fiorella Carretti and Christine DiGiovacchino.

New Fine Arts instructor Fiorella Carretti is a veteran artist and educator with experience ranging from illustration to photography, ceramics, and textile design. As an educator, she has taught elementary, middle school, and adult continuing education elvels. Fiorella joins Sessions to teach drawing and art history.

Read Fiorella’s complete bio here.

New Graphic Design instructor Christine DiGiovacchino is a creative director who has worked at agencies in New York, California, Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland and has wide-ranging experience in print, digital, outdoor, packaging, and broadcast media. Christine joins Sessions to teach typography and graphic design.

Read Christine’s complete bio here.

Please welcome these talented new instructors to Sessions College. Our warmest wishes to outgoing instructor Carolina Caycedo, who leaves Sessions after five years of teaching.

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Graduation Announcement

Congratulations to our featured graduates: Connie, Dorinda, Greg, Madeleine, Megan, Shonna, Stephanie, and Tarryn.

On Wednesday February 29th 2012, the following Sessions College students were issued certificates of graduation. On behalf of Sessions College faculty, staff, and directors, we congratulate each student on their achievement in meeting program standards and completing their course of study.

  • Cholpon Abylova, Digital Arts Master’s Certificate
  • Connie Nassios, Web Design Advanced Certificate
  • Dorinda Smith, Web Design Advanced Certificate
  • Greg Hamerton, Graphic Design Advanced Certificate
  • Madeleine Andersson, Graphic Design Advanced Certificate
  • Megan Perkins, Graphic Design Advanced Certificate
  • Shonna Preston, Digital Arts Professional Certificate
  • Stephanie Cunningham, Graphic Design Advanced Certificate
  • Tarryn Thornton, Web Design Master’s Certificate
  • Timothy Benton, Web Design Professional Certificate

For information on Sessions College certificate programs, check out the Certificate Programs area or Graphic Design, Web Design, or Digital Arts certificate program pages.

A special International student shout out to students completing programs outside the United States: Cholpon (Malaysia), Greg (England), Madeleine (Sweden), and Tarryn (Sweden).

Did you know that Sessions College has graduated students from over 80 countries? Visit our International Student Alumni section to read about design projects from students around the world.

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Instructor Publishes Article in National Geographic


From time to time, Sessions College faculty achieve something extraordinary and we like to toot their horns. In that category, Sessions College English Composition instructor Marie Mockett has an article published in this month’s National Geographic Magazine.

An American with a Japanese mother, Marie Mockett is a novelist and nonfiction writer with strong ties to Japan. In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit northeast Japan in March 2011, Marie was asked to write several articles about the disaster and recovery efforts, publishing an op-ed in the New York Times, an article in Glamour Magazine, and appearing twice on NPR to talk about the event.

In fall 2011, Marie was asked by National Geographic to write a literary piece to accompany a scientific discussion of tsunamis. True to the magazine’s mission, National Geographic even sent her to Japan to research the article, though the piece ultimately focused on her childhood memories of the area.

“It’s a tremendous honor to get a call from National Geographic,” commented Marie. “The Japanese people are amazing. The National Geographic issue has many photos that demonstrate the speed with which people are cleaning up. And there are lots of stories about how strangers banded together to help each other.”

“But the tsunami has also laid bare many of the challenges that Japan will face moving forward. How will the towns surrounding the tsunami zone rebuild? How far does the radiation contamination spread? How will Japan provide its citizens enough power? And in a way, these are questions that we all ask, because we all want to reap the benefits of modernity, while remaining safe and healthy.”

The article can be read here: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/tsunami/mockett-text.

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Graduation Announcement

Congratulations to our featured graduates: Angela, David, Dawn, Hassan, Jessica, Jordan, Kathy, Laksmana, Melanie, Michel, Niharika, Sachi, Sandra, Sarah, Steven, and Venia.




On Wednesday February 15th 2012, the following Sessions College students were issued certificates of graduation. On behalf of Sessions College faculty, staff, and directors, we congratulate each student on their achievement in meeting program standards and completing their course of study.

  • Angela Mullins, Web Design Professional Certificate
  • David Root, Web Design Professional Certificate
  • Dawn Kresan, Graphic Design Professional Certificate
  • Hasan Vaseghi, Web Design Professional Certificate
  • Jessica Bonert, Web Design Advanced Certificate
  • Jordan Rutherford, Graphic Design Advanced Certificate
  • Kathy McClelland, Web Design Professional Certificate
  • Laksmana Moerdani, Game Art Professional Certificate
  • Melanie Armada, Graphic Design Advanced Certificate
  • Michel Penn, Graphic Design Advanced Certificate
  • Niharika Jain, Graphic Design Advanced Certificate
  • Sachi Hill, Web Design Advanced Certificate
  • Sandra Chaba, Web Design Professional Certificate
  • Sarah Judge, Web Design Advanced Certificate
  • Steven Speckman, Graphic Design Professional Certificate
  • Venia Rodgers, Web Design Professional Certificate

For information on Sessions College certificate programs, check out the Certificate Programs area or Graphic Design, Web Design, Multimedia Arts, Digital Arts certificate program pages.

A group of students completing programs in 2010/2011 also received certificate awards. Featured here are Austin, Gina, Shannon-Brooke, and Susu:

  • Aubree Deimler, Web Design Foundation Certificate
  • Austin Cooper, Multimedia Arts Professional Certificate
  • Ethel Mairena, Graphic Design Foundation Certificate
  • Gina Esguerra, Graphic Design Foundation Certificate
  • Jason Hampton, Digital Arts Advanced Certificate
  • Kathrina Thomson, Graphic Design Foundation Certificate
  • Krista Leaders, Web Design Foundation Certificate
  • Shannon-Brooke Seppa, Graphic Design Foundation Certificate
  • Susu Kulow, Graphic Design Foundation Certificate

A special International student shout out to students completing programs outside the U.S. or overseas: Dawn, Jordan, Kathrina, and Shannon-Brooke (Canada), Sarah (Switzerland), Niharika (India), Gina (Singapore), and Laksmana (Indonesia).

Did you know that Sessions College has graduated students from over 80 countries? Visit our International Student Alumni page, coming soon.

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February Gallery Highlights

It’s February, Super Bowl behind us and Valentine’s Day ahead. Our students, undeterred by seasonal ebb and flow, continue to make beautiful work.

Who says there’s no money in graphic design? Saudi Arabia-based AOS in Graphic Design student Hiba Abugosh created a really convincing and also pretty currency design for the 20 Dirhams note used in the United Arab Emirates. We loved the layering, the subtle monchromatic scheme, and the way the skyscraper images interact with the typography. And yes, the Dubai skyline really looks like that, even when Tom Cruise is not around.

Graphic Design certificate student Barbara Evans brought a tear to our eye with her work in her Design and Composition class. Why? In her ode to the humble allium she combines effective imagery (her own photography) with imaginative composition to create the kind of compelling food images that grace coffee cook books and Whole Foods store windows. What you can’t see of course is the underlying brainstorming and sketching that was needed to develop three effective images.

Fine Arts certificate student John Esposito wrapped up his certificate program with a two still life paintings in artificial light. This rusted wrench is nicely observed, with John’s loose approach a perfect match for his oil-encrusted subject matter.

Web Design certificate student Nigel Andreola is in the gallery all the time — so why should February be any different? Nigel’s stated goal in entering his program was to push the boundaries of We technologies, and he’s certainly giving Flash a run for its money. In this ActionScript 3 for Designers project, Nigel creates an interface for an WWII video game. You are the gunner on bomber plane on a mission, fending off attacking Messerschmitts over enemy territory. We kid you not! Head over to gallery page and give ‘em a taste of your ack-ack gun.

For more February highlights, visit the student gallery.

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Graduation Announcement

Congratulations to our featured graduates: Aleksandra, Daniel, Jennifer, John, Potcha-Mon, Sal, Sarah P, Sarah Y, Sharif, and Victoria.

On Wednesday February 1st 2012, the following Sessions College students were issued certificates of graduation. On behalf of Sessions College faculty, staff, and directors, we congratulate each student on their achievement in meeting program standards and completing their course of study. A special international student shout out to Michael (Ireland) and Aleksandra (England).

  • Aleksandra Sivonorova, Graphic Design Master’s Certificate
  • Daniel Press, Web Design Professional Certificate
  • Jennifer Clark, Web Design Professional Certificate
  • John Esposito, Fine Arts Certificate
  • Justin Simmons, Web Design Foundation Certificate
  • Michael Dunleavy, Web Design Foundation Certificate
  • Potch-Mon Ngamthammachat, Marketing Design Professional Certificate
  • Sal De Bella, Web Design Professional Certificate
  • Sarah Price, Digital Arts Foundation Certificate
  • Sarah Yoder, Graphic Design Professional Certificate
  • Sharif Wilson, Graphic Design Advanced Certificate
  • Victoria Kissel, Web Design Professional Certificate

For information on Sessions College certificate programs, check out the Certificate Programs area.

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Behance Student Competition

After hours of brainstorming and sketching followed by more hours planted in front of a computer tirelessly tweaking and re-tweaking your school project is finally perfect and ready to be submitted for grading. But some projects, and the effort invested in them, deserve more than just a high letter grade and priority placement in your portfolio.

The Behance Network is hosting a “Student Showdown” competition to give hard working design students another chance to share and be rewarded for their best work.

The Contest: The contest is free to enter and open until Feb. 20th. It is open to current students and individuals who graduated within the last 3 months, and all disciplines of design work are welcome. You will need to register as a member of the Behance Network before being allowed to enter.

The Prizes: Prizes are intended to give students a boost at beginning their creative career. The first place prize has been dubbed “The Ultimate Creative Professional Starter Kit” and is valued at ,000. Honorable mention prizes will be awarded as well.

For the details on this competition visit the Behance Student Showdown page.

Competitions are a great way for new designers to gain exposure and begin building their resume. And since the pieces eligible for this contest are already completed for school, entry is free, and the contest is open to all disciplines there is really no reason to not enter!

If you decide to enter this competition (or any other) let us know in the comments section – we’d be excited to support you!

If you are aware of any other competitions you think other Sessions College students might be interested in please share them with us by emailing robert@sessions.edu.

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