Artist Spotlight: Katie Hanrahan

By: Missy Finnegan – Staff Writer

Katie Hanrahan, a senior visual arts major, decided to pursue graphic design at the University of Dayton because it allows artistic work to be created through the use of a computer, unlike most other art forms.

Hanrahan always enjoyed drawing and creating art throughout her childhood, but it wasn’t until high school that she realized she could use her drawing skills and natural artistic ability to do more with media and graphic art.

“Graphic design is a combination of physical and virtual art,” Hanrahan said. “Creating art on the computer using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator programs is so fun to me.”

Graphic design is more about the creation of a visual composition that can include illustration, photography and typography combined to make an entire piece of art. Graphic design is utilized in corporate design for businesses, editorial design for magazines as one example, web designing, advertisement designing, packaging and more, according to The Professional Association for Design.

For some people, using a computer to create art might feel restricting because of the technical aspect and skills required to design and tweak an image or object, but for Hanrahan it is the coolest part of graphic design. You have the ability to create what might not exist.

“Graphic design is whatever you want it to be, that’s why I like it so much,” Hanrahan said. “You can make anything your mind comes up with!”

Like many other artists, she gets her inspiration from things in her everyday life that she sees or experiences, but since graphic design is mostly based on working on a computer, she also finds inspiration through other digital platforms.

“I get inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram accounts,” she said. “I look for inspiration all around me too. If I see something I like when I’m in a store or something, I’ll stop and take a picture of it and save it to my computer if I need inspiration later.”

Graphic design is always evolving and changing, which presents many potential opportunities for students like Hanrahan. She had the opportunity to work for Susan G. Komen Chicago this past summer, a well-known breast cancer foundation.

“It was one of the greatest opportunities I have had as a graphic designer,” Hanrahan said. “My artwork was educating women on breast cancer in the Chicago area.”

Hanrahan is from Northbrook, Ill., which is around 30 minutes outside of downtown Chicago, so she considers herself a Chicago-native. Hanrahan has a love for her city and all it has to offer. Her dream job in graphic design would be working for one of the city’s professional sports teams, such as the Bulls, Cubs, White Sox (she’s not playing favorites), Blackhawks or Bears.

“I will probably have to start in the minor leagues and work my way up,” she said. “I have always had a weird passion for sports.”

This semester Hanrahan is currently working as an intern with the UD Athletic Department, which she describes as a great experience to help her put what she is learning in her classes to use. It has allowed her solidify her dream career of being in sports. It’s exactly the kind of job she wants to have when she graduates from UD in May.

Since her major is not specifically graphic design, focusing on visual arts as a whole has had its benefits for Hanrahan.  It has allowed her to take many different kinds of art classes that help her grow as an artist as a whole, but more specifically as a graphic designer. She had to take classes that have developed her drawing and photography skills.

“I loved digital photography because I like photoshopping random things together,” she said.

Aside from classes and interning for the athletic department, Hanrahan is a member of the sorority Pi Beta Phi, which has given her even more opportunities for designing. She creates the Facebook page cover photos and other photos for members to post that promote events or the sorority in general. She was the apparel chair two years ago and was able to design shirts for the sorority as well.

“Graphic design is unique because it’s up and coming,” Hanrahan said. “There is always something new to it.”


Photo Courtesy of Katie Hanrahan

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