NMU Human Centered Design Student Recognized in National Competition

Winsell Incorporated has announced the winners of the 2016 International Rotational Molding Product Design Competition, including four IDSA Student members. The annual contest inspires emerging industrial design students to create breakthrough consumer products that utilize the latest technologies in rotational molding. Judging criteria includes: originality; processability; growth potential; beauty and visual appeal; tool building compatibility; and use of appropriate materials.

Spark Fire Pit Design
Spark Fire Pit Design

This year, 66 students from Columbus College of Art & Design(link is external) (CCAD); Penn State-Behrend(link is external)University of Wisconsin-Stout(link is external)Purdue University(link is external)Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design(link is external) (MIAD), Ottawa’s Carleton University(link is external) and Northern Michigan University(link is external) participated. IDSA Student Members are among the Honorable Mentions: Thuy Khuu, S/IDSA, of MIAD, for Embrace Chair; Emily Siira, IDSA, of MIAD, for Groom pet wash station; Nathan Warwick, S/IDSA, of Northern Michigan, for Spark outdoor fire pit; and Elizabeth Jackson, S/IDSA, of CCAD, for The Urban Planter.


Human Centered Design at Northern Michigan University

Art Students in Ceramics Travel to Bali to Build Soda Fired Kiln

Associate Professor of Ceramics, Brian Kakas, conducted an internship with 11 current Northern students and Alumni from the Northern Michigan University School of Art & Design that took place for 4 weeks in Bali, Indonesia.

NMU Art Students in Bali
NMU Art Students in Bali


The project was the culmination of a 3-year research project in the design and engineering of ceramic kilns conducted by Professor Kakas. The internship took place at Gaya Ceramic Art & Design and Art Center located in Ubud, Bali. The ceramic and design production center designs and fabricates high end one off ceramic product made exclusively by hand and can be found all over the world. During the month at the art center, the students learned about working practices and material science with raw materials in the formulation of clay for artistic and production pursuits. Northern students studied kiln designs and built the first Atmospheric Soda Kiln in Indonesia made from sustainable local materials. After construction was completed, the students worked alongside the worlds foremost researcher in the field, Dr. Gail Nichols a Michigan native currently living in Australia), and studied firing methods and practices using Sodium Carbonate along with LPG fuels.

Soda Fired Kiln (front) being blessed
Soda Fired Kiln (front) being blessed
Soda Fired Kiln - Front
Soda Fired Kiln – Front
Soda Fired Kiln Back
Soda Fired Kiln Back

Throughout these workshops, Northern students explored the rich and vast depths of the Balinese culture of traditional fabric dying, wood carving and jewelry making along with immersion into the cultural history exploring Hindu temples and life in villages. Participating students will be giving a lecture followed by a discussion about their experiences. The lecture is open to the public at the School of Art & Design, room 165 at 2pm, on Tuesday, September 13th.

NMU Ceramics Program

Art & Design Alumna Selected for Publication

NMU Illustration Graduate Alanna Stapleton’s comic “I’m Not Usually Talkative on Planes” was recently selected into the Society of Illustrators (NY) Comic and Cartoon Annual for 2016. The prestigious publication features the work of professional illustrators, and the annual is a showcase of the most outstanding works created in this genre throughout each year.  Link to the entire comic on her portfolio web site.

" I am not usually talkative on planes " - excerpt
” I am not usually talkative on planes ” – excerpt

Alanna’s Description of the acceptance
A little stunned and very excited to share that my comic “I’m Not Usually Talkative on Planes” was selected for the Society of Illustrators Comic and Cartoon Art Annual 2016. I made this comic about a conversation I had on a plane leaving Bermuda because I learned it’s not always bad to talk to strangers, in fact it can be just what you need. Writing it was cathartic, drawing it felt necessary, and sharing it was impulse. Part apology, part travel diary, part thank you note.

View Alanna’s Web Site

NMU Illustration Program

Art & Design Student Receives Technology Innovation Award

Augmented Reality Application

Amy Peterson, a Senior Art & Design Graphic Communication student, received the Technology Innovation Award at the Celebration of Student Research on the Northern Michigan University Campus. Professor Keith Ellis was her faculty advisor on the project where Amy combined skills developed in Illustration, Graphic Communications, and Computer Art. This is the third year in a row an Art & Design student has received this award.

Brief Description of the Project

This research project is an extensive exploration on the technologies of Augmented Reality (AR). This art collection uses smart devices to work in conjunction with traditional art in order to create an interactive art experience. The process for this piece includes using a variety of computer software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and Unity. Products of this project includes a 20+ page illustrated comic, a poster size cover print, and an AR iPad app, all of which will be exhibited in the Devos Art Museum here at NMU.

NMU Graphics Students Design Luge Logo

Northern Michigan University Senior Graphic Communications students have been participating in an Academic Service Learning Project which involved the creation of logos for the upcoming Luge World Cup at Lucy Hill in Negaunee, Michigan.

Its a great opportunity for the students to work on a real client project and a great opportunity as the winning logo will be seen in over fifty countries. Professor Jane Milkie advised the students on the projects part of her 400 Level Graphic Communication Seminar.

News Coverage:

ABC 10


Learn More about the Graphic Communication program at Northern Michigan University and the Academic Service Learning Program.

Professors from Aba Teachers Univeristy in China Visit NMU


This past week the School of Art and Design had visitors from Aba Teachers College located in China’s Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. They were on campus Tuesday through Thursday and toured our facility, the campus, and Marquette. The group also visited Professor Kakas’s Ceramic classes and gave a presentation to the students and faculty on Traditional Chinese and Qiang Art in the School of Art & Design.

Visiting Professor Kakas's Wheel Throwing Class
Visiting Professor Kakas’s Wheel Throwing Class

The group included two representatives from the college, Lui Xiaoping, Studio Head of Tibetan and Qiang Decorative Art in Art Department, Huang Yang Vice Director of Art Department, and Yang Can the Interpreter and employee of the universities Foreign Affairs Office.

Many people from the NMU community assisted in the planning of the visit and the School of Art & Design would like to thank Zhuang-Zhong Lehmberg from the English Department and Kevin Timlin Director of International Programs. In addition, Lucy Ke and Alley Yang who are visiting the University from China this semester helped as Interpreters.

NMU Students Selected as Finalist in Photography Contest

Three NMU Art & Design students were selected as Finalists in Photography Forum’s 36th Annual College & High School Photography Contest. NMU Students Selected: Alisha Tilson, Alex Carleton, Emily Stephens were selected.

There will be a book, Best of College & High School Photography 2016 in which all the finalists will be published. There were over 10,000 photographs from students in the US, Canada, and around the world. The judges were Henry Hohenstein, RISD; Meryl Truett, SCAD; and Lee White, College of Canyons.

Emily Stephens
Emily Stephens
Alex Carleton
Alex Carleton
Alisha Tilson
Alisha Tilson

Photography at Northern Michigan University

Professor Stephan Larson received a Gold Award from the Spotlight Short Film Awards

Professor Stephan Larson received a Gold Award from the Spotlight Short Film Awards for his animation In Capricious Hands. The Spo​tlight Short Film Awards is dedicated to promoting experienced and new filmmakers through a unique and important international film competition. The spirit of the Spotlight Short Film Awards is to value each film based upon it’s artistic merit alone. The organization is composed of industry professionals: filmmakers, independent film consultants, film festival organizers,  festival programmers and judges who have been in the business nearly 20 years, and share a passion for independent film. For the 2015 awards, over 25,000 independently produced film submissions were reviewed  and 75 Gold Awards were given. Larson’s animation, In Capricous Hands, finished the film festival circuit in early 2016 with over a dozen festival appearances across the United States including the Phoenix Film Festival, the Athens International Film and Video Festival, and the Boston Underground Film Festival.

Stephan Larson "InCapriciousHands"
Stephan Larson “InCapriciousHands”
Spotlight Short Film Awards:

Digital Cinema Student Working As Video Director

Kelly McCommons, a senior Digital Cinema Major, is working as the Professional Bull Rider’s Arena Video Director for the 2016 season. The position is heavily travel based with travel obligations for 30+ weekends in Locations ranging from Dallas, Anaheim, Billings, and Madison Square Garden in New York City. On Thursday evenings, he flies out of Marquette and normally travels back on Mondays. Kelly is working under another Alumni of the School of Art and Design, David Poirier who received his degree in Photography.

Kelly on Location
Kelly on Location

Kelly’s Description of the Video Director Position:

A typical day begins with a production meeting with the PBR staff. We go over the show elements for that weekend communicate what to expect at each venue and city, as they are all unique. Several hours before the show, we check to make sure all elements of the show are in order before doors open to spectators.


We shoot video clips for each city, and develop those to give a unique feel to each market we serve. We make sure all advertisements, show elements, video elements, time-lapse videos are edited, pre-show rolls, intercom systems, switcher boards, etc. are in their proper working order before they begin a show.

Our show is shown on the Jumbotron in each arena & live streamed on PBR live. PBR travels with our own Video screens that are set up beforehand. I work inside the TV Truck with the crew from CBS Sports, to which whom broadcast the PBR “Built Ford Tough Series” almost every weekend on the networks of CBS.


A typical show lasts about 3 hours. After each show I take the record decks from hard drives and edit highlights from each to be shown on PBR’s social media pages like Facebook and YouTube, as well as being sent to sporting news agencies like ESPN Sportscenter, CBS Sports Network, etc.

At the end of a long weekend, I wake up on Monday morning, head to the airport, and try to fall asleep on the airplane for a couple of hours while I attempt to get ahead on school work/projects that are forthcoming for the 2.5 days that I am home during the layovers.

Digital Cinema Northern Michigan University

Professional Bull Riders Association

Faculty and Students Participate in Art Book Compilation

Professor Steven Hughes and NMU Art & Design Alum Josh McKenzie are part of an exciting new project, the LadyKnight art book compilation.

From the LadyKnight press release:

1001 Knights is a three­volume anthology focused on highlighting positive and diverse characters. Over the course of three volumes, more than 250 artists explore themes about what it means to be a knight and what makes a strong character through their illustrations, comics, poetry and prose.

Preview of Alum Josh McKenzie's Submission
Preview of Alum Josh McKenzie’s Submission

“We wanted to make a space for artists to explore themes of strength. By creating their ideal knights, artists could also forge a dialogue about the kind of characters they want to see represented,” said 1001 Knights co­creative director Kevin Stanton.

Preview of Professor Hughes Submission
Preview of Professor Hughes Submission

“The knights in this anthology aren’t just your typical sword­and­shield wielders. They are people who protect their friends, children finding their own strengths, unlikely allies who create unbreakable partnerships, formidable villains and fearless defenders of all that is good,” said 1001 Knights co­creative director Annie Stoll.

One Thousand and One Knights Web Site

One Thousand and One Knights – Kickstarter Page

Illustration Program at Northern Michigan University