Graphic Design Major Named Graphic Design USA Student to Watch

By Tom McLaughlin

Looking back now, says Cori Robinson, her burgeoning graphic design career began as a bit of a disconnect.

She recalls that, when she was six years old, her mother bought a computer, but they didn’t have the Internet. So she spent hours tooling around on a painting software program.

Robinson’s introduction to art at Rutgers–Camden came way back in elementary school via the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts.

“I didn’t do much freehand drawing, but I always used lots of shapes – circles, squares, rectangles – and loved bright colors,” says the senior graphic design major at Rutgers University–Camden. “I would make a different screensaver every week and my mom would ask, ‘Did you make that?’”

These days, Robinson is becoming more and more recognized as someone working outside the box.

The Rutgers–Camden student was just named one of Graphic Design USA’s Students to Watch in 2019. The honor is given annually to students from America’s leading art and design schools who are tabbed to burst onto the graphic design scene.

True to form, the Camden resident has a penchant for utilizing a minimalist approach – a form of abstract art developed in the 1960s that uses simple geometric shapes – and still features color prominently in her designs. She tries to use only three colors, she notes, but aims to use bold and bright colors cohesively.

Her senior thesis, “Points, Planes, and Perspectives: The Art of Geometry,” also explores various artists’ complex and simplistic uses of shapes in their designs.

“I try to maintain that minimalist approach, while doing something bold,” says Robinson, who notes that she is still mindful of classic graphic design fundamentals, but tries to push the boundaries of her work.

Robinson’s introduction to art at Rutgers–Camden – or any college, for that matter – came way back in elementary school, when she and her classmates at Parkside Elementary School visited campus to participate in arts and crafts activities hosted by the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts.

“I still remember sitting at this long table in the lobby outside the Stedman Gallery, where we would do activities,” recalls Robinson, who ended up spending even more time on campus as a Rutgers Future Scholar from 7th to 9th grades.

The Camden resident later discovered the world of design as a graphic communications major at Camden County Technical School in Sicklerville. She recalls that one of her teachers – a graphic and textile designer by trade – taught her how to use software more efficiently.

Robinson has a penchant for utilizing simple geometric shapes and bright colors prominently in her designs.

In 2015, Robinson took an introduction to graphic design class as a first-year student at Montclair State University. She initially thought that she had known a lot about the field, but quickly found out otherwise when the program director informed her of all the intensive research that she needed to do.

It was an unexpected – but constructive – awakening.

“I was distraught, but I thought, ‘This is something that I can really do,’ says Robinson. “I am not the best drawer or the most consistent painter. However, I am into art and the process behind graphic design.

Robinson ended up spending long nights in the college library, digesting as many books as she could on the fundamentals and theories of graphic design.

She would do really well in the class, but was soon forced to return to Camden due to financial reasons. Rather than take a break from her studies, she returned to familiar environs nearby.

“Rutgers–Camden was the best way for me to jump back into school and still be home at the same time,” recalls Robinson.

It would prove to be just the kick-start that she needed to pursue her career aspirations.

“I’ve gotten pushed harder at Rutgers–Camden than I could’ve ever imagined,” she says. “It made me realize that, if I was really serious about a career in graphic design, I really need to work hard 24/7. That means networking with people every chance I can get and not just limiting myself to getting assignments done.”

Robinson’s senior thesis, “Points, Planes, and Perspectives: The Art of Geometry,” explores various artists’ complex and simplistic uses of shapes in their designs.

Robinson credits Allan Espiritu, head of the graphic design concentration at Rutgers–Camden, for helping her to think more conceptually about her work. Through Allan, she says, she developed a willingness to take criticism and consistently try new approaches.

“You can’t be just one-note and boring all the time,” she says.

Robinson also interned for several months at Espiritu’s GDLOFT – an award-winning graphic design studio that he founded and leads in Philadelphia – where she was able to work with a client one-on-one and lead a logo rebranding for a local nonprofit organization.

The Camden resident has also worked on animation projects with Liqin Tan, head of the animation program at Rutgers–Camden. She believes that the varied design experiences will help round out her skillset and portfolio when she embarks on her full time career.

“I want to be a ‘jack of all trades,’ who can do traditional design, motion design, and 3D modeling,” says Robinson, who notes that she has also designed a couple apps.

Robinson adds that she has also developed professionally with the help of a mentor, Rashida Boyd, director of partner marketing at Bluecore NYC, whom she met through the nonprofit America Needs You, which provides intensive career development and transformative mentorship to low-income students.

Through Boyd, Robinson was able to connect with several clients for her work, as well meet professionals in various industries, who taught her what it means to be successful regardless of the discipline.

“Being in the room with other successful people and hearing their stories made me realize that I too can be just like them,” she says. “I just need to work hard for it.”

Posted in: Student Achievement

Comments are closed.