Ten to Watch: Year One

April 5th, 2013 by IMAGE Magazine
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By Kendra Hovey

For new CCAD graduates with a creative degree in hand, the horizon is vast, and to each destination lays myriad paths. This is both super exciting and—we’re not afraid to say it—daunting. Between launch and land there will be a bit of unknown, which is why we decided to contact 10 of our top 2012 grads and ask them how things are going.

From these 10, we found that two have formed LLCs, four have shown in galleries, one has “gone viral,” and, among them, there are nine cats, two dogs, and one “very handsome” fish named Columbus. Their workplaces are diverse: while one is at an international clothier, another might spend all day in a urethane-casting lab.

To what do they owe their successes so far? CCAD comes up—the inspired friendships, life-altering classes, and amazing professors are too many to list — but so do hard work, integrity, connections, knowing one’s priorities, curiosity, and gumption.

They are a grateful bunch. Asked to be specific, classmates and sweeties get a mention, and from Alex Trimpe, “Just being alive is pretty nice, wouldn’t you say?” But overall, their greatest gratitude is to mom and dad. (Awww…)

May we introduce: our Ten to Watch.

Chavilah Bennett at work

Chavilah Bennett at work

Chavilah Bennett

Major: Advertising & Graphic Design

City: Columbus

Position: Motion graphics designer at S77

Cause: The Maximin Project

Go-to Food: Avocado

Chavilah Bennett was warned she’d be a coffee girl or a “pair of hands” at her first job. “That was a lie,” she says. Already, at S77, she’s designed the opening titles for a CeeLo Green/Muppets holiday video, worked post-production on a “T.I. featuring Lil Wayne” music video, and helped to direct and shoot footage for a series on the Bio Channel. Bennett’s job is in motion graphics, though her training is not. When she was hired—because of “people saying nice things about me behind my back”—it was with the understanding that she’d be learning on the job. No problem:  “The great thing about CCAD,” she says, “is it teaches how to think creatively, how to problem-solve, and how to work efficiently, and those are qualities that transfer to any career.”

Lian Dziura

Lian Dziura


BFA: Photography

City: Columbus

Position: Freelance photo assistant for Michael Cogar at Lane Bryant

Inspired by: Medieval and Renaissance art

Fave CCAD class: Still-life photography

A day at work for Lian Dziura might be spent assisting photographer Michael Cogar on-set, editing and color-correcting final images, photographing an edible tableau for a freelance client, or maybe even working on her own collages. Since graduating, she’s shown in two galleries, including the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, where she received an honorable mention. While she wasn’t sure what to expect post-college, to have a job she enjoys and to show and sell work “is a great feeling,” she says. “I’m glad it’s turned out the way it has.”


Rachel Cass

Rachel Cass


BFA: Fashion Design

City: New York

Position: Assistant designer at American Eagle Outfitters (AEO)

Fave CCAD Class: Collection (“the class where all the hard work pays off”)

Words to Live By: Grow or die.

Talent, skill, and education are all key to landing a dream job, but for Rachel Cass, so were patience and confidence. Certain she’d find the right job, she looked at a lot of companies, even turned down some. Then she applied to AEO. “I left my interview knowing I would work there,” she says. Sure enough, she’s now in New York designing denim jeans and jackets. The transition was smooth, something she credits to all her hard work at CCAD. She plans on growing with AEO and looks forward to “seeing where my adventure takes me.”

Leah Fisher

Leah Fisher


BFA: Photography

City: Columbus

Position: Archivist and evening supervisor at CCAD’s Packard Library

Go-to Food: Gatto’s Pizza

Creative Jumpstart: Crossword puzzles

Leah Fisher didn’t look for a job—she already had one. Since 2007, she’s been transforming a roomful of boxes into a digitized, cataloged, and shared archive about the history of CCAD. She’s added to that history by, for instance, replicating old photos for a Then-and-Now exhibit. It’s the kind of project that keeps her passionate. Fisher also remains focused on her art. Nine of her “drive-bys” (photos she takes from a moving vehicle) are part of Image Ohio 2013, one of those won an Honorable Mention in that exhibition, and she’s applied for a show at the Urban Arts Space. “Life right now feels great,” she says.

Jake LaBombarbe

Jake LaBombarbe


BFA: Industrial Design

City: Columbus

Position: Lead industrial designer at Concept Engineering

Cause: Toys for Tots and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Hobby: “I am a connoisseur of terrible movies.”

“It may be corny,” says Jake LaBombarbe, “but to hold something you’ve designed as a tangible object is still one of the greatest feelings in the world.” At Concept, LaBombarbe does design, research, product testing, and modeling; he’s overseen a new silicone and urethane casting lab; and he’s the go-to guy about additive manufacturing and prototyping capabilities. Owens Corning is a big client, but potentially so is anyone with, as he says, “great concepts but no idea how to make them.” His ultimate aim is the toy industry (and he’s developed some ideas, so keep an eye out on Kickstarter). Although he had a job ready and waiting after graduation, his advice is to never take anything for granted. Also, “do right by others,” and, sharing a tip once given to him, “don’t ever point out a flaw in your own sketch: chances are, only you see it.”

Sarah McCance, photo by Kevin Brown

Sarah McCance, photo by Kevin Brown


BFA: Interior Design

City: Dallas

Position: Interior designer for Wilson Associates

Go-to Food: Hot Cheetos

Tool to Unwind: Jim Henson’s The Labyrinth

Designing interiors for a palace in Abu Dhabi may not have been on Sarah McCance’s career to-do list, but because she made the most of opportunities while at CCAD, it’s one item she can now check off. “My company designs luxury,” she explains—often for high-end resorts, casinos, and, yes, palaces. After careful research, McCance applied to be a student intern at Wilson and, while there, was “a sponge, absorbing everything,” she says. Afterward, she prioritized those professional ties and was hired on full time after graduation. Time to set new goals: she’s now focused on professional certifications—and recruiting more CCAD students for Wilson internships.

Kattie Baker

Kattie Baker


BFA: Advertising & Graphic Design

City: Columbus

Position: Designer at Fine Citizens, a web design agency

Cause: Big Sisters (“I’m a sucker for children.”)

Tool to Unwind: Zumba

“To see your work grow up and march out into the real world feels fabulous,” says Kattie Baker (even if, technically, her work is in the virtual world). At Fine Citizens, she’s in charge of responsive web design and is the “icon and vector graphics girl,” which means she gets to do fun stuff like animal illustrations for the Columbus Zoo’s online guide. Add in art direction and client presentations and “it’s a lot of hats,” she says, “but multi-tasking is a skill all CCAD grads acquire.” Baker and her husband just bought their first house, and, as for the future, “it’s whatever keeps challenging me,” she says.

Erin McKenna

Erin McKenna


BFA: Fine Arts

City: Columbus

Position: Host at Better Earth in the North Market; founder/manager of No Place Studios, LLC

Fave CCAD Experience: NY Studio Residency

Words to Live By: If you want something done, do it yourself.

Erin McKenna wasn’t ready to give up the tools, materials, supportive community, and feedback she had at CCAD, so she problem-solved. McKenna formed an LLC and with 10 other artists (nine from CCAD) founded No Place Studios: 2,500 sq. ft. to make art, hold events, and foster community. “We’re very proud of this space,” she says. After an artist’s residency at Chicago-based ACRE and a related exhibition this spring, grad school is next up. Already, she’s been nominated for a scholarship.


Sara Diesel


BFA: Illustration

City: Pittsburgh

Position: Freelance illustrator

Fave CCAD Class: Entrepreneurial Illustration

Inspired by: 1980s sci-fi movies

“Freelancing,” says Sara Diesel, “is a great way to network and work your way up the field to larger clients.” But jobs don’t fall in your lap; it takes hustle, and “persistence, most of all.” Asked to brag, she mentions her work on the Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones card games, to which, she says, “it was an honor to add my voice.” She calls it “humbling and surreal” to have work in Spectrum 19, a publication full of her favorite illustrators. Though someday she might like to try her hand at game creation, she’s happy freelancing and excited to see just where it will take her.

Alex Trimpe

Alex Trimpe


BFA: Media Studies

City: Akron

Position: Proprietor of Alex Trimpe Motion Design, LLC

Cause: Longstride

Creativity Jumpstart: Going outside

With the ink on his diploma barely dry, December grad Alex Trimpe is the boss of his own motion graphics company, producing work (usually typography-based with illustrations) for clients around the globe. The “short story,” he explains: “A video of mine [The World Is Obsessed with Facebook] went viral. People wanted similar-style videos. Then, bigger people wanted videos.” Some of those bigger people are Samsung, Levi’s, and Cisco. But don’t just chalk up his success to luck. Trimpe asked for it. He messaged Vimeo: Hi…can you give me feedback…thank you…oh, and if you like it, maybe throw it on your staff picks. They did. His advice—along with “be kind but not a pushover, persistent but not annoying, and have a good reel”—is “simply ask, it works better than you’d think.”

Web Exclusive, full interviews from our Ten to Watch:

Chavilah Bennett

Go-to food: Avocado! I’ll eat it with (almost) anything.
Fave class at CCAD: Mr. Mohr’s Senior Ad/Graph class; the work consistently forced me to explore outside my comfort zone.
Fave CCAD hangout: The study/work room in the Admin building. During December finals one year I had to pull so many all-nighters in the admin building that I brought Christmas lights, music and snacks to make it feel a bit more cheerful.
Productivity/creativity jumpstart: On a warm day my favorite thing to do is walk around the city with a coffee and a camera, exploring hidden side streets, pretty neighborhoods and parks. I like to think of the world as an adventure and if someone takes the time to look, they will find something beautiful and unexpected.
Hobby: Singing, playing the piano and small harp, power yoga. I’ve missed painting and drawing so I started a few personal projects. Right now I’m painting a large map of the world on my wall. (I’ll send photos to Lindsay Kronmiller.)
Fave game: You can’t go wrong with Uno or Settlers of Catan. A new favorite is Telestrations; it’s like the game of telephone but in drawings. I played with my siblings over the holidays and the results were hilarious.
Ideal breakfast: A mountain of bacon
Everyday breakfast: Coffee and a granola bar or bagel
Cause/nonprofit close to your heart: Maximin Project. I was involved as a designer for this organization for about six months after initially meeting them at Startup Weekend 2011 at CCAD.
Website/podcast for inspiration or to learn something: I listen to podcasts when I’m in the middle of a project. NPR Planet Money, TED Talks, The Moth: True Stories Told Live, and This American Life. Listening to the BBC News podcast as I get ready for work is a ritual for me, it helps put life in perspective before I leave the house.

Kattie Baker

Go-to for blowing off steam or relaxing: Zumba dancing. I’m self-taught, so I’m not sure I have much of a knack for it. Mostly it’s just me shaking my hips and romping around the living room. It gets the energy out regardless.
Fave game: I like simpler, classic games like Mario Kart. If there are guns or aliens I tend to grip the controller too tightly and take my character’s death too seriously.
Best advice you’ve heard: “If your first job out of college doesn’t make you worried that you’ll be fired every day for the first six months, you’re not being challenged enough.”
Cause/nonprofit close to your heart: There are a ton that deserve limelight, but this year I’ve decided to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. I’m a sucker for kids.

Rachel Cass

Go-to food: Sushi!
Fave class at CCAD: Collection. It’s where you get to show all your skills, all while creating your own designs. It’s what we went to school for; it’s the class where all your hard work pays off.
Fave CCAD hangout: Sitting on the lawn between classes. It’s a great place to take a time out and just relax
Fave artist/designer/photographer(s): I have a huge list of people I look up to and admire, but narrowing down to just one is too hard.
Productivity/creativity jumpstart: Visiting the German Village Book Loft with my fiance. Sifting through books and discovering new artist and places is always a source of inspiration. Music is always a huge inspiration in my creative process. The right music can change anything.
Go-to for blowing off steam or relaxing: Sleeping; it’s not something I see much of, but when I really need to relax or take a break, I like to close my eyes and dream.
Hobby: Camping, snowboarding, enjoying life
Words to live by: My dad told me if you’re not growing in life, you’re dying. He’s a pretty smart man, so I try to apply it to all aspects of my life.
Fave game: Monopoly
Comic book or character: I would be Storm from X-Men.
Ideal breakfast: Cream-cheese eggs with toast and fruit
Everyday breakfast: Veggie breakfast sandwich and coffee
Best advice you’ve gotten: To live my life as an adventure, not as something set in stone.
Best advice you’ve given: follow what’s in your heart
Pet(s)? My dog Charlie, she’s a mutt and the cutest one out there! She’s also back in Columbus, and I miss her everyday. I got a fish to keep me company in NYC. His name is Columbus; he is a very handsome blue beta.
Grateful for: I’m grateful for the amazing people in my life and the unbelievable amount of support they have showed me.

Sara K. Diesel

Fave class at CCAD: Entrepreneurial Illustration with Andrew Bawidamann—very informative and challenging!
Go-to for blowing off steam or relaxing: I’m a big movie watcher. I love the old eighties sci-fi movies especially. It’s where a lot of my inspiration comes from.
Fave game: I play a lot of video games. I think it would be safe to say that at the moment I’m stuck on Dishonored. It has great design and concept all around.
Best advice you’ve gotten: Fake it ’til you make it.
Website/podcast for inspiration: Muddy Colors is a blog chock-full of great inspiration, advice, and tips, and it’s run by some of the big names in the illustration world.
Grateful for: My parents, especially right now. They’ve given me so many opportunities and have supported my decision to be an illustrator 100%.

Lian Dziura

Fave class at CCAD: Still-life photography
Fave artist/designer/photographer: I love most medieval and Renaissance art. I think that’s where most of my inspiration comes from.
Productivity/creativity jumpstart: Pinterest and sketching
Go-to for blowing off steam or relaxing: A cup of tea and Downton Abbey
Hobby: Reading and cooking
Fave game: Scattergories
Ideal breakfast: French toast from Tasi. Or crêpes.
Everyday breakfast: Tea and toast or hot cereal
Best advice you’ve gotten: Never give up; failure is not the end, it’s just another step in the process of learning.
Best advice you’ve given: Probably the advice above.  :)
Cause/nonprofit close to your heart: Children’s homes and orphanages
Pet(s)? Cat named Lily
Website/podcast to learn something: The Guardian and TED talks
Grateful for: My mom

Leah Fisher

Go-to food: Gattos Pizza
Fave class at CCAD: It’s a toss-up between my independent studies with amazing faculty members Helen Hoffelt and Charlotte Belland
Fave artist/designer/photographer(s): Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus
Productivity/creativity jumpstart: Crossword puzzles
Go-to for blowing off steam or relaxing: Obsessive fiction book reading
Hobby: Cooking
Words to live by: Use it or lose it
Fave game: Apples to Apples
Everyday breakfast: Nuts Over Chocolate Luna Bars
Ideal breakfast: Frittatas and biscuits
Cause/nonprofit close to your heart: Planned Parenthood
Pet(s)? I am a mom to four cats! Mookie, Milton, Hellz Bellz and Hormel.
Website/podcast for laughs: Cracked.com
Website/podcast to learn something: Salon.com
Grateful for: My amazing husband, Dave, who not only supports the things I am passionate about, but also shares my passion.  We are pretty much always together when I am out shooting, and he is my primary driver for the Drive-By Shootings series.

Jake LaBombarbe

Fave class at CCAD: Anything with Dave Burghy or Tom Williamson
Fave CCAD hangout: The ID Cave in Kinney Hall
Fave artist/designer/photographer(s): Animator Bruce Timm, illustrator Matt Wagner
Productivity/creativity jumpstart: Punk rock and copious amounts of coffee
Go-to for blowing off steam or relaxing: Street Fighter 4
Hobby: I am a connoisseur of terrible movies.
Words to live by: My latest: “Dude, sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.”
Fave game: Metal Gear Solid 3
Comic book or character: Batman
Ideal breakfast: Coffee and a bagel with lox
Everyday breakfast: Coffee
Best advice you’ve gotten: Don’t ever point out a flaw in sketch, chances are you are the only one who knows that it’s there.
Best advice you’ve given: Play to your strengths, but mind your weaknesses.
Cause/nonprofit close to your heart: Toys for Tots and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
Pet(s)? Chippy, he’s a cat. He’s also an a$$hole.
Website/podcast to learn something: Brad Jones aka The Cinema Snob, Matt and Pat at Two Best Friends Play, and Noah Antwiller aka The Spoony One
Grateful for: I am grateful for Alex Mazur, Caleb Boller, Hak Chan Kim, Jennifer Helber, Joe Washington, Joel Van Gilder, and Nikki Stapleton…the finest classmates and greatest friends that anyone could ever have.

Sarah McCance

Go-to food: Hot Cheetos!! More of a snack really, but I just can’t help myself. They are delicious.
Fave class at CCAD: Definitely my Fairy Tales class my senior year. The content and the teacher were both incredibly interesting. I only ever missed class if I was on my death bed with sickness. (Haha. Even then I contemplated going.) That class definitely makes me rethink whether or not I want to read certain fairytales to my children someday. Especially Snow White.
Fave CCAD hangout: Interior Design is a relatively small program at CCAD, so you become really tight knit with your classmates. My favorite memories and most fun experiences there were whenever we were all in the computer lab on the second floor of the Crane Center. We laughed, we cried, we had screaming matches due to lack of sleep and WAY too much estrogen, but those are my favorite memories at CCAD.
Fave artist/designer/photographer(s): I have always been inspired by designers like Eero Saarinen, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Verner Panton. They all had very simple design with a bit of a funky flair. Each very different and each very inspiring. As far as still living designers go, my best friend and classmate Amanda Shaw is incredibly inspiring to me. She is so incredibly creative, driven, and won’t take no for an answer…EVER. I can only hope to pick up some of her traits along the way.
Go-to for blowing off steam or relaxing: The Labyrinth by Jim Henson starring David Bowie, and music
Comic book or character: I’ve always been really into X-Men. As a child my cousin and I were always reading the comics or watching the TV shows. I feel like a little kid every time a new movie is released!
Everyday breakfast: Oatmeal with brown sugar, golden raisins, and cranberries. It’s the only thing that will keep me full well into the afternoon!
Best advice you’ve gotten: My mom always encouraged me to push myself. She would never let me quit anything without putting up a fight. And she always encouraged me to just be myself. She said, “Sometimes the only honesty you will truly have in life is with yourself.” I try to be as honest with myself, others, and my work as much as I can.
Pet(s)? My fiance and I got our first puppy a few months ago. She is a german shepherd/black lab mix. Her name is Trinity and she is 5 months old. I feel like I’m chasing a toddler around half the time between the teething and getting into anything and everything she can! I love her to pieces though. She is a little bit of a tomboy, ALWAYS wants to play, and is convinced that if she chases her tail enough she is DEFINITELY going to get it one of these days.

Erin McKenna

Fave class at CCAD: The most helpful thing about CCAD was my professors. Danielle Julian Norton, Matt Flegle, Tim Rietenbach, Michael Goodson, and Kelly Malec-Kosak were a huge part of my growth as a person and artist.  Without them, I would not be thinking the way I do now.  Also, CCAD provided the opportunity to go to the New York Studio Residency Program when I was a junior.  I was in NYC for a semester, and it changed my life dramatically.  I think I actually learned how to make art and how to think there.
Fave CCAD hangout: AMF studios
Fave artist/designer/photographer(s): Mika Rottenberg, David Lynch, Vincent Fecteau
Productivity/creativity jumpstart: Cleaning and organizing my studio
Words to live by: If you want something done, do it yourself.
Best advice you’ve gotten: Don’t be afraid.
Best advice you’ve given: Make work that makes you uncomfortable
Cause/nonprofit close to your heart: Materials for the Arts in Queens, NYC.  Nonprofit group that has a warehouse where people and companies can donate anything and everything.  Artists, teachers, or anyone in art organization can get any of the materials, all for free.  The only catch is you have to write a thank you card.  It promotes recycling and saves money.
Pet(s)? Jasper and Wayne—both cats
Website/podcast to learn something: ContemporaryArtDaily.com, DailyServing.com, iTunes U lectures, Art21, documentaries on Netflix of favorite directors
Grateful for: Very grateful to my parents, for their support both financially and mentally now and through school.  I’m very lucky that my parents support my decision in pursing art.

Alex Trimpe

Go-to food: Chicken Tikka Masala
Productivity/creativity jumpstart: Going outside
Hobby: Reading
Words to live by: Conan O’Brien said, “If you work really hard and you are kind, amazing things will happen.”
Fave game: Video-Team Fortress 2. Board game-anything!
Ideal breakfast: Sausage.
Everyday breakfast: Scrambled eggs in a mug in the microwave.
Pet(s)? Ollie the fat cat
Website/podcast to learn something: Reddit, for everything
Grateful for: Just being alive is pretty nice, wouldn’t you say?



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Published in print twice a year, CCAD’s IMAGE magazine shares stories about our creative community, whether here in Columbus or around the world—what we’re doing, thinking, and planning next. The IMAGE blog brings those stories online for transmission at the click of a mouse.

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One Response to “Ten to Watch: Year One”

  1. sue dziura says:

    Congratulations Lian, good to continue to read about you on the CCAD blog. So appreciate the wonderful faculty and opportunities at CCAD.
    Sue Dziura
    CCAD class of 1980