Graphic design major Sarah Roper finds expression in branding
Sarah Roper, a graduating senior at the University of Mississippi, straddles the worlds of creative expression and commerce. A Tupelo native, she has earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis on graphic design. Her sights are set on a dream job: creating color palettes for cars.
Roper’s fine arts honors thesis is a collection of printmaking pieces that explore in visual form the experience of anxiety in Romantic and Victorian literature.
“I’ve gotten a great education in fine arts and the commercial side of art,” she said.
Within her emphasis on graphic design, she has specialized in letterpress, a traditional technique of printing that traces its origins back to Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the European printing press in the 15th century.
“I first took letterpress as a winter session class, and I really enjoyed the process of what you can get out of each print,” she said. “The same is true of the printmaking I’m doing for my thesis.”
Roper enrolled at the university and its Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College after completing her associate degree at Itawamba Community College. She describes her years in the Department of Art and Art History as a “whirlwind.”
She’s worked three jobs while trying to finish a three-year program in less than two years.
Her on-campus job at University Communications and Marketing – which began as an internship and then turned into a paid position – has helped hone her professional skills.
Under the tutelage of Stefanie Goodwiller, manager of design services at University Communications and an adjunct instructor in the School of Journalism and New Media, Roper gained expertise in creating graphics for various departments on campus, including logos, advertising materials, infographics and flyers, among other collateral.
“She showed me the marketing and corporate side of graphic design and helped me move on in my field,” Roper said.
She noted that her job and her coursework were complementary. She used the skills she was learning in her graphics design classes in a real-world setting.
Roper found mentors, too, within the art department. As a transfer student, she was lacking in studio hours, and faculty worked with her to bring her up to speed.
“Art majors have to take foundation classes in color theory, drawing, digital media and design – and they’re very demanding,” Roper said. “The faculty were really helpful.”
Faculty have also given her a “boost of ambition,” with exhibits they’ve held at Oxford’s Southside Gallery.
“I’ve seen what I can possibly do later on,” she said.
But for now, she has her sights set on the automotive industry. She recently applied for a job with a private firm that creates color palettes for the interior and exterior of Toyotas – but she also has a backup plan, one that would bring her full circle to the start of college.
“I can also see myself working as a graphic designer for a community college, using my skills in a department of community relations,” she said.
By Abigail Meisel/College of Liberal Arts