Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration and Digital Photography
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Finding Inspiration From a Life Overseas

by Taylor Slattery | November 12, 2021

Our Senior Director of Admissions Jessica De La Garza recently caught up with Sessions AOS in Graphic Design student Samantha Nelson to discuss her experience studying online while living overseas and finding inspiration from other cultures through travel. In this interview, Samantha shares some advice for how to overcome artists’ block and reflects on some of her favorite classes and projects from her time at Sessions.

Q: Like many military spouses, you experienced the challenge of relocation. Has online education made getting your degree more accessible?

Yes, very much so. The Sessions online program has made it possible for me to continue my education while living overseas in Japan. My husband is in the U.S. military, and when I had first found out about our move from the States, I was disappointed I wouldn’t be able to complete my schooling. Fortunately, I found Sessions College and have been grateful to have the opportunity to finish working towards my degree.

With a varying schedule of shift changes and never knowing what to expect every week, the online program has made it more convenient to work on coursework when I have time available, rather than having to work around a set schedule of in-person classes.

Japan is an absolutely breathtaking country with a beautiful culture. My husband and I try to explore as much as we can, with each experience more rewarding than the next. Seeing the mountains and cherry blossom trees has been one of my favorite sights, and it really made me understand the traditional Japanese Sumi-e painting, which has come to be one of my favorite styles. It’s so peaceful and fluid, much like their way of life.

The city of Tokyo, on the other hand, is busy and chaotic, much like some of their brightly colored festivals and paintings depicting them. Even the written Japanese characters are beautiful to look at. I love walking down the street and looking at all of the signs, shopfronts, and logos. It’s always fun trying to figure out what they might mean.

samantha nelson design projects

Q: What advice would you give someone pursuing their education online?

Online education is a great option, especially with the current pandemic and quarantine procedures. Though you’re not physically meeting with your professor and classmates, communication is still important. We all know life has a tendency to get in the way of things, and the professors are all very understanding. If something comes up, let them know! They’re more than happy to work with you.

Q: What do you in your free time? How do you overcome “artists’ block”?

To overcome artists’ block and enjoy some free time, I love listening to music and playing with my dogs. They’re the best refresher to clear my mind and open up new ideas. Photography is also a huge hobby of mine. Sometimes finding that new angle is exactly what you need! And of course, getting out and about to see and experience a new place always opens up the potential for new ideas.

samantha nelson design work

Q: Of the classes you’ve taken so far, which one has been your favorite and why?

It’s hard to choose a favorite class as I love so many of them. Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Typography, and Graphic Design I, to name a few, have had some of my most favorite projects. I’ve learned so much in each class.

Starting at Sessions, I didn’t have any experience with Adobe software applications. Now, not only do I feel very comfortable with a number of them, but I’ve also had the opportunity to create a number of pieces with them that I’m proud of, using what I’ve learned in each class.

samantha nelson graphic design project

Q: Favorite project?

Again, choosing a favorite project is difficult. One of my favorites from Graphic Design was creating three olive oil products for the fictitious company Olivio. We got to create a logo, choose three olive oil flavors, create the bottles, labels, and the cover for a little booklet to attach to the bottle.

There was the option to physically make the products and photograph them, or make them on Photoshop/Illustrator. I loved the freedom of the project and having the ability to create absolutely everything for it!

Q: What artist or designer do you look up to?

One of my favorite artists is Erik Johansson. He’s a Swedish photographer and visual artist who creates surreal works out of combined photographs. Each piece is incredible, usually an impossible scene made realistic. They’re always entertaining to puzzle out, first, how the scene may be possible, and second, how he went about piecing it together.

Where can people find your work or follow you on social media?

I just started posting my work on Behance! You can find some of my work here and here.

Visit Sessions.edu for more information on graphic design majors at Sessions College including our Associate Degree in Graphic Design and BFA in Graphic Design programs.

Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.