Student Spotlight




Share your work, it's good for you.

Hey there! WeMake wants to showcase your work! We are looking for submissions in any creative genre: graphic design, digital, fine arts, industrial, even music! To be considered samples of your work or a link to your website. Chosen entries will be featured on our blog, in our newsletter and in social media, including instagram, facebook, and twitter. 

Send your email to our Student Outreach coordinator Chris Murphy,

See past student features here

Student Spotlight — Colin Laurel

Hello Makers! So happy to bring you our latest installment of Student Spotlight, the talented Colin Laurel. You will absolutely enjoy his work, and what he has to say about his process. So, lets get to it, shall we!


I'm extremely excited for you to meet Colin Laurel, an illustrator/fine artist extraordinaire, currently studying at PNCA. He's currently in his second senior term, defending his thesis, with plans to graduate in May. 

Earlier this month, I got in touch with Colin to get some insight on his process, his passions, his work, and what he's all about. It was such a wonderful treat to hear about his development as an artist, his background and its influences, and his hopes for the future with his art. Read on and enjoy!


How did you find the medium that best worked for you? What was that process of discovery like?
I'd lend that discovery to my naivety, because when I was young and copying the images I admired, I wouldn't necessarily know of the methodologies that went into them until much later. So when I saw an old film poster with these rendered areas and flat shapes and bold text, I tried to emulate it with the limited materials I had on hand. Then I found master works where you've got these highly detailed focal points against rougher line. Now charcoal and ink are my go-to media; you can sculpt and cut into the both of them and have a good time—just get filthy, really. I nearly fainted when I was first taught that traditional and digital media could live harmoniously. In essence, it's been a long string of doing things horribly wrong and loving it: crafting a game without knowledge of code, or piecing together a book with excess staples. I still don't know printmaking nearly as well as I'd like!

What were some of your early influences to pursue an education in the arts? Did you always wanted to be an artist when you were a child?
My parents! I always had those grandiose art-related dreams as a kid, but I was lost as to how elevate that pursuit beyond a hobby. Even if commercial art isn't guaranteed to be lucrative (much to their worry), they've gradually come around as I start to cast my net to the world. I still can't convince my mother that I'm not Disney material anymore—I just went down another avenue!

Outside of your illustration work—what feeds your imagination and soul, and brings you joy?
Music, the hip-shaking kind. Video games, though when it comes to competition, joy may vary. Company, company, company. I can't express how thankful I am for my company. I'm part of a group called Sour Candy Illustration, and it's been so rewarding to be involved in a like-minded collective working together, encouraging one another, and sharing that feeling of being a sleep-deprived husk.

And recently, the outdoors. I was a bit of a recluse growing up; there's some metaphor about finding myself lurking in here. Very best selling memoir. But really, drawing onsite has been incredibly therapeutic. I try to sketch wherever I go.

[In your bio, you write:] "Expression is key, as are narrative arcs." How do you hope your personal expression and narrative will reach others, using your art and with your heart?
I hope my art sparks a moment, however brief, of radiance within the viewer, and that it lingers on the mind, and that it brings joy to your day. My thesis is rapidly becoming the subject of social outreach. And this is tangential but somewhat relevant: Blackness and queerness have not yet been prominent in my work, nor are they at the height of my agenda (not yet), but I wish to motivate people of similar backgrounds—along with everyone else—to pursue their creative practices. Making is a tool that bolsters the love of myself and the love of others.


THANK YOU Colin for taking part in our Student Spotlight. It was such a pleasure to learn more about you as an artist, as a human being, and to see the brilliant work you're creating. Best wishes on your thesis work, and continue sharing your light with others.

To see more of Colin's work, visit his website at 
(Pro tip: you should also follow him on Instagram).

Student Spotlight — Sage McElroy

Happy February, lovers of the arts, beauty and life. We are excited to share our latest student profile with you!


Sage McElroy is a junior from PSU, with plans to graduate in the Spring of 2017. Her work is strong and memorable. Striking pieces like her beautiful 3D alphabet explorations with matches, or trail reports and photographs that make up the Great Wild Open project, and illustrations for the National Parks postcards—they all have an elegance and playfulness about them.


We caught up with Sage and were able to connect a bit more on her passion for web design, her future plans, hopes and what makes her happy in life. Enjoy!

What about design excites and challenges you? Taking on projects that are out of my comfort zone is both exciting and challenging—I think it is important to always keep growing and evolving as a designer. I find web and interactive design to also be particularly exciting. There is something extremely satisfying in the creative process of projects that live on the web. Seeing an idea transform from a concept, to code, to something that people from all over the world can experience and interact with, is really amazing!

Post school — what would you like to be doing / projects you would like to take on / a difference you'd like to make? Working with a solid team of people or collaborating with others is something that I would like to do more of after I graduate. Right now I am working on two projects for different non-profits, and it would be great to continue along that path in some form. I would also love to work on projects focusing on interactive design, branding, and environmental design. Creating a unique user experience is something I want to dive deeper into, in both a digital setting and in various physical environments.

Apart from your design world, what other things make you happy, what else do you enjoy doing? I love music, photography, good company, and traveling! Experiencing different cultures and visiting new places is a great inspiration and keeps life feeling fresh. I guess I find comfort in being reminded of how small each of us are in grand scheme of things, too. I also have a great appreciation for the outdoors and try to get outside as much as I can.


To see more of Sage's design work and photography, visit her site

Best wishes on a new year, Sage! Continue exploring and enjoying the process. 


All images courtesy of © Sage McElroy 2015

Student Spotlight — Alysa Phan


I am so excited to share this new Student Spotlight with you.

Meet Alysa Phan. She's a stellar illustrator, majoring in Graphic Design and Fine Arts from Oregon State University this Spring, with an impressive CV and an extensive body of work. She's been taking part in exhibitions since 2009, and doing student design internships since 2012. She's one busy lady!

I met Alysa last year, while presenting her work at the OSU Graphic Design Senior Show, and I was extremely impressed with her work, and warm personality. It was great to see her submission to us to be featured, and I'm so excited you all get to see her beautiful work.

From her stunning screen-print series based on Japanese proverbs and sayings her mom taught her, to the clever and charming  STI Prevention posters, and the Student Experience Center guide, her eye for detail  comes through. The overall use of color, storytelling, and excellent illustration skills across her body of work are lovely. 

We wish you the best, Alysa! We look forward to seeing you up here in Portland after graduation.

Student Spotlight: Tessa Millhollin


Our next student highlight comes in with a strong portfolio and eye to detail. Tessa Millhollin is a graphic design student in her junior year at PSU, and currently keeps busy while working at the Portland State Vanguard on a variety of projects.

What's refreshing about Tessa's projects is the range of work she has created so far. On one end, we see her bold use of color, typography, and overall layout, like in her Lester Beall book or the Edible Portland media kit. On the other, there's a quiet and delicate touch, like in her Edward Sharpe album redesign, and re-imagined Lord of the Rings trilogy book covers. Check out more of Tessa's work on Behance.  Looking forward to seeing more of Tessa in the future. Best wishes!