This article originally appeared in Ohio University’s College of Fine Arts News, by Sarah Williams.
The College of Fine Arts’ School of Art + Design welcomed alumnus John Paolini, BFA’90, as a College of Fine Arts Visiting Artist to speak with current students about his career path in graphic design via the schools’ Path Speaker Series, part of the Graphic Design area’s Spring 2021 Celebration of Design events.
The effort also featured two exhibitions, Legacy: Don Adleta and Karen Nulf, 60 years of Graphic Design, on view at the Kennedy Museum of Art until March 28 and the graphic design alumni exhibition REACH: 50+ years of works by OHIO Graphic Design. Additionally, a new endowment, the Fine Arts in Residency Fund, was established, an effort that will bring design practitioners to campus and online this fall for virtual residencies at Ohio University.
Paolini has worked for Sullivan, a brand agency based in New York City, since 2004 and currently serves as the executive creative director and partner. He oversees all aspects of Sullivan’s creative development and works closely with strategists, writers, designers, and technologists to build brands that shape perceptions and change behaviors. Some of Sullivan’s clients include LinkedIn, Twitter, American Express, J.P. Morgan, Barnes & Noble, Disney, National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Pfizer. Paolini also has worked for Siegel & Gale a brand strategy, design and experience firm based in NYC as creative director and for Waters Design based in NYC as design director. He also serves on the College of Fine Arts’ Leadership Council.
“I can say with one hundred percent certainty that if it was not for OHIO and the mentorship I received, I would have nothing of the life I have today,” says Paolini. “Everything I gained and my core values, exposure, and understanding of what it means to be a creative person and designer came from my time at OHIO and that is a really special thing.”
Don Adleta, professor emeritus of Graphic Design, says Paolini has long been an advocate for the School of Art + Design’s graphic design program. Having Sullivan as a venue for students to go to for work in graphic design makes Paolini a great choice as a keynote speaker for the Path Speaker Series.
“It is an honor to have this level of alumni return to OHIO,” says Adleta. “Paolini is a thought leader in graphic design. He has an ability to entice and motivate individuals. Paolini can bring about a level on confidence and solidity in his commitment and way of speaking to all questions that are asked of him”
The virtual lecture took place during a Graphic Design studio class with 32 students. Paolini discussed how students can choose their pathway in the field and shared where the industry is going to illustrate their potential career trajectory. He also discussed how to engage with different types of design disciplines to learn where to realize a successful career.
“He understands where we as students are and how we are feeling. Him being able to relate to us made it easy for us to ask him questions,” wrote Solomia Nebesh, a Graphic Design MFA candidate. “Also seeing an alumnus who is so successful is reassuring and gives you hope that we can do the same. Getting to meet alumni and then them telling us that we can contact them anytime and use them as a resource is comforting. The world is big but being part of this OHIO network makes it feel a little smaller, in a good way.”