Category Archives: Alumni News

Alumni News: Issac Christensen

Issac standing

“It may seem ironic that a mostly Scandinavian blooded man would choose to paint a series of portraits of American Indians. As far as I know the blood of no former Indian killer runs through my veins. My ancestors are recent immigrants who “missed out” on the holocaust of the American Indian. At first I was inspired to paint them as a political statement. I imagined exhibiting them and spray-painting giant black x’s over them to represent the beautiful culture that white man uprooted, murdered, and placed on reservations, but perhaps worst of all, introduced to alcohol.

My mom and a friend both agreed that making it a political statement distracted from, and perhaps cheated, the underlying message: there are lessons to be learned from the first peoples of this land other than political messages. I’m drawn to the way of life of the American Indian. I’m disturbed by the adoption rate of new technology in a land where there is no precedent for such a rate, and no spiritual body collectively speaking out against its dangers. The way of life of the American Indian is a time-tested system that endured for thousands of years.

My paintings are largely interpretative, with no implied meaning other than hope that those who look upon them will dig deep inside themselves and think about the way of life these people lived. I hope they consider the irony of a white man painting them, and how they might look different if an American Indian did using the same technique.

Accusing me of cultural appropriation may be justified. That also is a part of the message. The message is only about me so far as it reflects positively upon them. And if I am looked upon less favorably for appropriating a culture I long for and revere, a little less attention upon white culture, pop culture, will be the result – and that’s a good thing.

My technique: The portraits are inspired by the photography of Edward S. Curtis, using the spontaneous direct painting method, alla prima. All of Curtis’ work is black & white, I render the paintings in color. The relationships of the colors aren’t researched or planned, receiving their inspiration only from whatever parts of academic training is buried away in my subconscious. The irony of the bold use of color is that line is the key to my work. There are so many different types of line. Smooth ones, jagged ones, scribbly ones, thick ones, thin ones. The spontaneous and varied application of the many different types of line, along with the need to immediately transition from one type of line to another within the same stroke is important. I try to harness the spirit of Egon Schiele in that vein. A thick phthalo blue outline, with sometimes smooth, sometimes jagged edges, is a common trait to all of the portraits. I abstain from neutrals as much as possible.”

ALUMNI NEWS: Derek Ballard “Courier Girl”

Derek Ballard Courier GirlFrom Boneshaker Magazine:

Boneshaker Magazine, founded in 2009 in Bristol, England, is a celebration of cycling, full of articles, personal stories and anecdotes about people and projects doing great things with bicycles around the globe. Derek Ballard’s design “Courier Girl” appeared on the cover of Boneshaker Magazine, Issue 16.

Now “Courier Girl” is available to purchase as a digital print. Printed by Rik at Ripe Digital onto thick, textured, A3 size Tintoretto Gesso art paper, each print hand embossed with the Boneshaker embosser.

Check out more of Derek’s work at

ALUMNI NEWS: Matt Page on Kirby-Vision!

Alumni News
Matt Page on Kirby-Vision!

Matt Page is a huge Galactus fan who regularly writes about “The hunger that does not cease.” Matt’s Aztec/Mayan inspired “Galactus and Silver Surfer”
is now featured on the blog, KIRBY-VISION. This blog is curated by Jason Garrattley and showcases creative work inspired by the art and concepts of Jack Kirby. It is open to artists from any field and contributions are welcome in any media.


Matt Page’s tribute blog:

Matt Page’s work:

NEWS: Alumni at 2015 DIY Festival!


The 2015 Craft Lake City DIY Festival was held at the Gallivan Center on Friday, August 7th and Saturday, August 8th. Several VAD Alumni participated:

Natalee Cooper

Obake Style / Magen Mitchell & Nick Burke

Katrina (Flores) Parkinson

Derek Ballard & Brighton Metz

Esther Longmore

From Craft Lake City:

“The Craft Lake City DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Festival was formed in 2009 by Angela H. Brown, editor and publisher of SLUG Magazine (Salt Lake UnderGround), as a way to showcase local DIY (do it yourself) culture.

Since then, Craft Lake City has expanded the DIY Festival to become the state’s largest, local-centric, two-day arts festival, with over 200 local artisans, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Building, two stages for musical and dance performances, local food vendors, food trucks and hosting over 40,000 festival attendees.

Furthermore, the organization seeks to enhance Utah’s DIY arts culture by broadening the definition of “craft”  to encompass all things handmade – including craft food, STEM and DIY engineers (electronic makers).”

For more:

NEWS: Alumni Magen Mitchell at 3tArts!

Obake Bloody Rabbits Obake closeup

From 3tArts:

“Magen Mitchell is joining us from Obake Style! You’re definitely going to enjoy her creepy cute work! Get a sneak peek of her piece right here!

Magen Mitchell is a multi-media artist from Salt Lake City, Utah. She started life as an illustrator and graphic designer, took up painting, learned to screen print, and now plays with laser-cut wood. She likes to shake things up and try new mediums. Her brand, Obake Style, comes from the Japanese word for shape-shifting goblins. There’s playfulness in the way she blends the unexpected.

As a child of the 80s, Magen was really influenced by the wave of anime, manga, and video games that were adapted for American children around that time and it shows in her work. But she’s also heavily influenced by the graphic, often symmetrical nature of traditional folk art. Her favorite subjects to depict in her work are cute and/or creepy. She likes to combine related or even diametrically opposed ideas into surprising results.”

Get more Obake Style here:

From 3tArts:

“Three Chicks who love pop culture, Jane Estantino, Stephanie Han, and Katie McAtee, came together with the re-release of the 20th anniversary of the Sailor Moon anime. With a shared love of Sailor Moon, this art show represents their desire to share that love and some fantastic inspired works with other fans.

3tArts opened their first gallery at rothick art haus in Anaheim, CA on July 5th, with the opening of Moon Crisis: A Sailor Moon Tribute Art Show.”

Get more 3tArts here:

NEWS: Alumni Carol Ross

ROSS, Carol“I am a Graphic Designer with a passion for both design and research. I love designing for art, performing arts, lifestyle, and fashion. This year I had the opportunity to be the Art Director for the 2015 Art Meets Fashion Foundation (AMF), a nonprofit event that merges art with fashion to benefit various causes. I worked with writers, photographers, and other stakeholders to produce the 150+ page annual publication. This year’s theme is globalization and it features local and international artists, photographers, and fashion designers.”

AMF Magazine


NEWS: Lord of the Banana!

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 2.14.49 PM

Designer Ryan Bangerter:

“I’m a graphic artist with a passion for making t-shirt designs. My designs are based on popular games, movies, and tv shows.”

Ryan’s latest design:  “One Banana to rule them all, One Banana to find them, One Banana to bring them all, and banana banana BANANA! This design is a crossover between the minions from Despicable Me, and the Hobbits from Lord of the Rings.”

See more designs by Ryan:

NEWS: Silen6 Commercial Arts

After last attending SLCC in 2008, Cami Thurber jumped into the graphic design industry. Over the years she gained business experience and cultivated a large circle of clients and industry contacts. As a freelance undertaking, Cami founded Silen6.

Scoring a few superb clients, the Silen6 team has quickly grown. The team combines a network of freelancers and partnerships with other creative companies. As well as in-house staff, including VAD’s own alum, Dianna Totland, who began working as a designer for Cami this summer.


“Once we realized that we were really onto something (and that desk-hopping wasn’t a long-term solution), Silen6 embraced the growth with a new location. Our beautiful office has been instrumental in building a creative, productive environment. We design everything from brand development to public art installations, packaging to web…and we love it!” – Cami Thurber.


NEWS: Alumni Andrew Malin Wins Best Writing!

To read more about this film and it’s creators please visit –

Andrew Malin, Executive Vice President of Olympus Media International co-wrote and directed “Dr. Bill’s Discount Sychaiatry,” the winner of “Best Writing” in The 48 Hour Film Festival 2015.

“The 48 Hour Film Project is a wild and sleepless weekend in which you and a team make a movie – write, shoot, and edit – in just 48 hours. On Friday night, teams draw a genre from a hat. They are then given a character, prop and line to include in their films. On Sunday night, in a wild dash to the drop off event, the film is turned in – and teams celebrate. The film is then screened at a local theater in front of an audience of filmmakers, friends and families.”