Whenever she designs a logo or advertisement, Samantha “Sam” Kolodziej ’22 aims to evoke an emotional response in her audience through clean lines, bold color palettes, and natural movement. For her, the perfect design is one that transforms an idea into reality.
“My designs tend to be simple and lighthearted,” says the graphic design major from Erving, MA. “I love seeing people’s reactions. They tell me that I’m on the right path in life.”
Sam was drawn to the digital arts because they offer creative freedom. She finds inspiration in Art Deco, known for its striking colors and clean geometric patterns. The work of Saul Bass, the renowned designer and filmmaker, also shapes her thought process.
“I didn’t think graphic design was my passion until I got angry at the font choice on a professional poster,” Sam said.
Camaraderie, Not Competition
Sam chose Elms because it “checked all the boxes,” including being close to home and offering small class sizes. But it was the people in the graphic design program itself that emboldened her to find her artistic voice.
“I feel like at other schools, peers are constantly pitted against each other in competition,” she said. “At Elms, there’s none of that feeling. The positive environment created by all of these designers is one of the biggest appeals of the program.”
The same goes for life outside of the classroom, too. “You meet and become friends with people across the board. I think that’s something Elms really has to offer.”
Innovating on Campus
Sam is a two-time participant in the Elms Innovation Challenge, an annual competition that invites students from all majors to collaborate and find solutions to pressing social, political, and economic issues. As a graphic design major, Sam volunteered her talents to create slide decks and visual prototypes that communicated her teams’ ideas. The experience was invaluable, she said, since it mirrors real world client-vendor relationships.
“I had maybe a day to take an idea that my group came up with, and find an efficient way to convey it visually,” she said. “I would design, and then get real time feedback on what I should change or add.”
“I was also designing something for someone else, rather than working in class, where the thought process is all mine,” she added. “I gained experience similar to real life.”
Putting It All Together
Much like college students across the nation, Sam’s experience at Elms went through a radical shift due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the fall 2020 semester, she chose to complete her coursework entirely online, regularly Zooming into class discussions with her peers. Despite being physically distant from campus, she says that she is grateful for the extra time with her family.
With a year and a half ahead of her before graduation, Sam acknowledges that she has a lot of ground to cover before deciding on her career path. For the moment, however, she intends to work in the marketing industry, with aspirations of becoming a senior graphic designer one day.
Despite the uncertainty characterizing the world for the time being, one thing remains constant for Sam: her love of graphic design.
“I’m in my junior year, and I feel more confident than ever that I made the right decision about my future.”