You Cannot Be a Designer without Compassion

What is the difference between an artist and a designer? Both seek to identify and then overcome boundaries that encapsulate the everyday life of the individual.

An artist expresses the ephemeral, the shared experience, whilst highlighting the nuances of the ordinary and the obscure with emotion, color, and finesse.

However, a designer delves into art with a deeper focus on shaping artistry with precise intentions. Designing with purposeful choices; provoking thought and interaction between audience and artwork.

Identifying as both, my goals as a passionate individual are to bridge the divides between clients and their audiences, whether that be in a commercial or personal capacity.

In my time growing up in Camden, New Jersey, and studying graphic design for seven years academically, and three professionally, I have arrived at one simple truth.

The world is full of miscommunication, confusion, and ignorance. These states of mind if left unaided lead to frustration. Frustration leads to anger, and anger leads to hate.

I believe it is the ultimate responsibility of design to conclusively clear away the noise and provide a straightforward understanding of ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and most important truths.

Through understanding, we develop acceptance.

Through acceptance, we grow compassion.

Through compassion, we find love.

I finally graduated! Class of 2020? No, but thankfully at least 2022!

Studying at the University of the Arts was a harrowing but life-changing experience for me. At every step, I faced unprecedented opposition that drove me almost to insanity. From financial instability, the possibility of homelessness, food insecurity, two years of hiatus, a global pandemic, and an overbearing courseload, I had every reason to quit. I lost sleep and weight from being a full-time student and working a part-time job most of my time in attendance. But I never gave up because even though I carried most of the weight alone, I was supported by the faculty both in the graphic design department and in some of my other courses.

Quitting was not an option.

I always believed in myself, and that I was meant for greater things. But I had learned early in life that I could not depend on people for the things that mattered most to me, so I would always do it by myself. One of the hardest lessons that I had to learn over and over here at UArts was to ask for help when I needed it. The fear of being let down and having to pick up the pieces crippled me and drove me to over-exert myself. My instructors could see the toll on my face, and even on my work.

I was disappointed in myself for not doing my best in spite of not being at my best.

The director of the graphic design department once sat with me at an especially difficult time in my academic career when the walls were closing in on me. I was about to be forced to take a year off due to financial hardship, and I was angry at myself for not being able to cover the sudden costs on my own, not being better prepared, and not having the best grades. She looked at me with compassion and said to me,

“How can you expect to put out your best work when you are not in your best state of mind or health?”

That was when I knew I was harming myself more than all of the weight of the circumstances I found myself in. And I started my journey finding compassion for myself as much as I had for others.

Here I am now, 3 years after that conversation, and 6 years after I began my college career. I have graduated. I have triumphed over all of the things that seemed impossible to overcome just a few months and years ago. And I have my own self-determination, and the support of my mom, and my teachers to thank for it.

Thank you UArts, for challenging me beyond my capabilities as a designer, but as a young person determined to achieve.

Thank you Angela Riechers for teaching me to love myself first, and the power of having compassion for myself.

Thank you Chris Myers for seeing me. Believing in me and my dreams. And most importantly, for giving me the only chance to go to college, When all doors were shut to me, you opened a window and said,


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