Logan Miller, a recent graduate from Woodbury, was honored with a Platinum award from the publication Graphis, the International Journal of Visual Communication for a poster he designed to highlight the problem of gun violence, in response to the Dec. 14, 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Natalie Krakirian, a Burbank native and junior at Woodbury, was named the top 2015 Emerging Graphic Designer of the Year by the International Design Awards in May. Her logo design for a fictional Icelandic Cultural Center, part of a class project, earned her the honor.
Both winners, who developed their designs as part of school projects, say they got into design a bit unexpectedly.
Krakirian had planned to be a ballet dancer, but realized when she was about 17 that it wasn't a "sustainable" option for her. After about a year of considering her options — during which she started sketching and designing — she made up her mind to pursue design.
"You're problem solving," she said. "And I enjoy the whole process."
Her winning design depicts a white mountain of ice inside a black flame, illustrating the opposing elements of Iceland — "the land of fire and ice."
She wasn't expecting to win anything with the design and didn't even know she'd been entered into the competition until she found out she'd won, she said.
Miller, who grew up near Chicago, said he got into design a little bit by accident after a brief stint at Purdue University in Indiana, and a break from college for a few years. It took a "leap of faith" to get into the program without any formal experience in design, he said.
"I just kind of fell into it and loved it and realized I could get paid to do something I really love," he said.
His winning design was also a class project, and was originally published in Graphis New Talent Annual. It won gold awards from Graphis in the typography as well as the social and political poster categories.
The message — that 100,000 people in the United States are shot each year — was spelled out in metal type and surrounded by "visually shocking" piles of ammunition meant to make the point that gun violence should be reduced without proposing a political agenda. He said ending gun violence is something upon which everybody can agree.
The poster will now be published in the 2015 Design Annual. It's one of eight Platinum awards conferred internationally, according to a statement released by Woodbury University last month.
"Logan's work rightly belongs next to those from the most esteemed professionals in our industry," said Sue Vessella, chairwoman of Woodbury's graphic design department and associate dean of the School of Media, Culture & Design, in a statement.
Woodbury's graphic design department is experiencing a record year in terms of students winning awards. The magazine "Graphic Design USA" recently named Woodbury's program to its 2015 "Top Design Schools" listing.
Krakirian, who has a year left in the program, said she was surprised to have won an award and feels she's surrounded by talented peers.
Miller said he didn't think his award played into him getting a job at Saatchi & Saatchi in Los Angeles, where he'll be working on interactive and digital design for Toyota's website, but it was still an honor.
"A lot of it's street cred," he said. "The recognition is more than I expected."