AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University senior graphic design students will host “The Senior Design Finale” Thursday, May 11, in Hall A at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the event will run from 6­–8 p.m., with student presentations from 6­–7 p.m. and celebration from 7–8 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Professional attire is required.

Nearly 80 graduating seniors in graphic design will share their work in the show. The event will feature projects developed in the Graphic Design Capstone course as well as work created in the interdisciplinary spring option (elective) studios, said Camille Kulakowski, assistant teaching professor of graphic design and faculty advisor for the senior show.

“These final projects are the culmination of what they’ve learned during their time at Iowa State and their chance to convey their unique voice through their work,” Kulakowski said. “I’ve enjoyed being able to see the students’ pride in what they have achieved when they’ve defined their own parameters.”

Kulakowski and colleagues Bernard Canniffe, associate professor of graphic design, and Julius Finley, assistant teaching professor of graphic design, taught the capstone studio sections this spring.

The course asks students to identify a design problem, conduct research, develop concepts and refine their solution. This self-led final project is a chance for them to focus on their individual areas of interest as well as demonstrate their ability to apply design principles and techniques to real-world problems, Kulakowski said.

Entertainment, education and experience

Some students focused on the design of apps, video games, podcasts and websites.

“Relo” by Natalie Huss, from Ankeny, Iowa, would help users achieve greater work-life balance by giving them the ability to take more trips without taking time off. The app would “offer a variety of features including a search engine for vacation rentals and hotels with reliable internet connection [for remote work],” she said.

“With the Relo app, users can balance work and travel seamlessly, boosting productivity and overall satisfaction.”

James Riggen’s 2D platform fighting game, “Agon: Tournament of Champions,” has a visual style heavily inspired by black-figure pottery painting.

Riggen, from Forest City, Iowa, drew on his passion for UI/UX (user experience and user interface) design to create “a full range of UX/UI design” for this conceptual video game, “from the main menu to the in-game UI,” he said.

Calling himself an “unconventional graphic designer,” Brandon Kuenster, from Coralville, Iowa, used projection photography to “represent what it looks and feels like to see inside my mind” after waking from a chaotic dream. His resulting “Projected Dreams” project will be part of the senior show.

Communicating complex themes

Other students chose to use design to communicate about complex cultural and social issues.

Angela Martinez, from Guthrie Center, Iowa, designed “Sin Verguenza,” which translates to “No Shame.” The image features this phrase surrounded with Latinx musicians and sets to aid viewers in “unlearning the toxic culture within the Latinx community.”

Martinez says she’s passionate about creating art out of the struggles she’s experienced as a Latina. Her project will “bring light to the toxic customs, themes and beliefs within the Latinx community and allow this community to connect and unite in unlearning this toxicity together and alleviate unspoken generational trauma,” she said.

For Adriana Rivera-Rodriguez, from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, her capstone project — a zine publication titled “Estamos Aqui, We Are Here” — is a love letter to her home country and the culmination of her design degree.

While living in Iowa, Rivera-Rodriguez has been surprised to learn about the lack of knowledge about Puerto Rico. She “aims to address this issue by highlighting the events during the summer of 2019 and providing insight into Puerto Rico’s political and social context.”


Natalie Huss, Graduating Senior, Graphic Design, nahuss@iastate.edu
Brandon Kuenster, Graduating Senior, Graphic Design, bkuen@iastate.edu
Angela Martinez,  Graduating Senior, Graphic Design, angm@iastate.edu
James Riggen, Graduating Senior, Graphic Design, jsriggen@iastate.edu
Adriana Rivera-Rodriguez, Graduating Senior, Graphic Design, arivera@iastate.edu
Camille Kulakowski, Assistant Teaching Professor, Graphic Design, camillek@iastate.edu
Lauren Johnson, Communications Specialist, College of Design, laujohn2@iastate.edu