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News . Feature Stories . Creativity Matters to grad who created CIA posters


August 07, 2014

Creativity Matters to grad who created CIA posters

Lyndsey Vu '14 illustrated posters for high schools across U.S.

Creativity Matters to grad who created CIA posters

Lyndsey Vu graduated from CIA in May 2014 but before she left town, CIA's Vice President for Marketing + Communications Mark Inglis saw her BFA thesis exhibition and knew he had spotted a gem. Inglis asked Vu to illustrate a series of posters that would be sent to high school art teachers and guidance counselors across the country. Here she reflects on this freelance assignment, her CIA education, and her career path.

You obviously have crazy talent and you must have had many choices for college. What drew you to CIA?

I was initially drawn to CIA’s Biomedical Art program since I was debating between pursuing a career as a doctor or as an artist. I saw it as a way to do a little bit of both, and CIA was the only college I looked at that had that as an option. The thing that made me lean more towards CIA in the end however was this poster in the Illustration Department I saw while I was touring the campus. It was a BFA poster from David Kegg (Class of 2010), and I just remember telling my parents, ‘That’s what I want to do.’

How did your three years in the Illustration Department change your approach to making art?

It was definitely a learning experience. I was never really the student who worked consistently. I was always the student who did things the night before and had a real hard time motivating myself the first two years in the department. My professors, however, were extremely patient and supportive, and I think that really helped me stick with Illustration versus dropping out and doing premed somewhere else, which was always in the back of my head. I honestly don’t know how they put up with me, but I’m really grateful they did. Being in that environment really gave me the time to figure out what I wanted to do with art, and develop a better work ethic before I left.

Illustration, as taught as CIA, is an applied art in which illustrators work for clients. Did that focus help you to come up with the images you created for the CIA posters? What were you trying to convey in these illustrations?

From my experiences so far, working with a client is definitely a collaboration. Clients have both a message and vision in mind already, and you have to find a way to create something that both you and the client are passionate about. With these posters, Mark Inglis and I juggled ideas back and forth, and ended up with posters that combined reality with imagination/fantasy. We wanted to portray artists in their own environment where their imagination and ideas come to life, and we wanted to capture how magical those moments can be. It was a great learning experience to work with CIA to create these posters. The theme, Creativity Matters, is one that I think resonates with a lot of different artists.

You're now working full time for a Cincinnati-based studio that creates product communications for major corporations. How does your CIA education help you in your daily work?

Even though it’s different than the work I usually do, I’m extremely happy to be back in a creative environment. After graduating from CIA, I really missed being around creative people every day and being in an environment that pushes you to grow as an artist. Being away from it all really made me appreciate the time I got to spend with some of my classmates and professors. So now, I’m just extremely grateful I get to work with other artists every day.

What would you say to a high school student considering attending a college of art and design?

Go into college with an open mind and a positive attitude. You will always run into something that will make you lose focus or something that will make you doubt yourself, but you have find the motivation to power through it. It’s up to you as an individual to make your work interesting, to continue to challenge yourself, and to see everything as a learning experience. Take advantage of all the resources available to you; listen to your professors; ask them questions. School is the best time to branch out of your comfort zone and to really push yourself as an artist, and if you stay positive you can really make the best of your time. I made the mistake of not doing that early on, and I really missed out on a lot of learning opportunities and good memories. I’d recommend CIA. There are a lot of opportunities there, such as taking interesting electives like glassblowing or taking Case Western Reserve University classes.

Note: View Vu’s work at

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