Justin Ahrens, Class of 1994
Justin Ahrens is the founder and principal of Rule29, a strategic design firm in Geneva, Ill., that specializes in branding, social media and “making creative matter” through print, online, environmental, documentary and motion design. Clients range from non-profits to Fortune 500 companies.
Ahrens' passion for his profession is evidenced by his extensive involvement in organizations that support the design community. He regularly speaks around the country and is a member of the STA and AIGA, has held a position on the AIGA Arizona and Chicago board, and served on the HOW Conference Advisory Board.
Over his career, Ahrens has created award-winning work for several organizations and has been recognized in several magazines and books including Communication Arts, HOW, PRINT, Create, Rockport Publishers and STEP. Graphic Design USA picked him as one of the top designers to watch in 2004.
Ahrens has served as an advisor and research assistant for senior design and strategy classes at The University of Notre Dame and Kent State University on projects that address social problems.
Taking a recent “Design for Good" project into action, Ahrens and his team rode 1,000 miles – from Boston to their hometown of Chicago – for “ Wheels 4 Water.”
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Our community of graduates extends the School of Art beyond the walls of the Ames Art Building into the entirety of the world. Many of our alumni have gone on to do advanced study in art, design, communications, education and art history. We number many well known artists among our group and IWU grads are making a major mark in visual communication and design. We are equally proud of our graduates who have applied their creative talents to fields outside of art.
- Andy Frederick '06 Graphic designer
- Elizabeth Walker '04 Painter
- Mike Mayo '02 Marketing communications
- Heidi Spring '01 Teacher & painter
- Renee McGinnis '84 Graphic designer & lecturer
- Robin (Calhoun) Asbell '84 Culinary artist
- Jeff Curto '81 Coordinator & professor of photography
Andy Frederick '06
Andy Frederick '06, a Perfumer & Flavorist magazine graphic designer, was honored as a finalist at the Creative Excellence in Business Advertising awards, sponsored by American Business Media, for his work on the Mosciano's Flavor Library campaign on www.perfumerflavorist.com. Named among the final three nominees in the Digital, Online Advertising category, Frederick's competition included OMD Digital for General Electric and Sigma Group for Panasonic. Read a press release or visit the CEBA awards site.
Elizabeth Walker '04
Elizabeth Walker '04 currently lives in New Mexico, where she works for a small art museum and continues to paint. Her work has also been exhibited in Chicago and Los Angeles and can be viewed at www.lizpaints.artspan.com. Her other interests include bees, crafts, making jam, and all things kitsch. Please send her words of encouragement and pies!
Mike Mayo '02
Mike Mayo '02 graduated with a master of arts in organizational and multicultural communication from DePaul University in Chicago in 2006, then spent a year working at the university in a marketing communications role. Mayo and his wife Sarah Evans '03 have moved to Columbus, Ohio, for his work with JPMorgan Chase. Carys Eiddwen Evans Mayo was born on Jan. 30, 2008. Mike explains Carys is a Welsh name that means love.
Heidi Spring '01
Heidi Spring '01 graduated with a master of fine arts degree from the University of Brighton in England in 2005. Heidi is currently living in the greater Los Angeles area and is working for the man to pay the bills. She is also teaching an evening painting class at the Palos Verdes Art Center and would much prefer that to be her full-time occupation. Heidi was accepted as a member of CATALYST, a non-profit artist collective that provides affordable studio space in a colorful neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles. Though she has yet to get a Web site up and running, you can see her work at www.myspace.com/heidispringart.
Dmitry Strakovky '98
Dmitry Strakovky '98 is currently assistant professor of intermedia at the University of Kentucky Lexington. He teaches art students how to program computers, make video and print-based work, design their own electronic contraptions and occasionally has been know to torture them with art theory (insert evil laugh here). Since graduating from Wesleyan, Strakovky earned his M.F.A at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and spent a couple of years in the toy industry working on Elmos, Barbies and other wild things. He has been exhibiting his work regularly, trying to make new and better art for the masses. You can see his work at http://www.shiftingplanes.org.
William Matznick '94
William Matznick '94 is a senior art director for Digitas, an interactive marketing agency with offices in Boston, New York, San Francisco, London and Chicago. Bill works in the Chicago office creating Web sites and online advertising, and working with broadcast and print. Digitas is owned by the Publicis Groupe, an advertising holding company which also owns Leo Burnett, Arc Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi, Publicis and Fallen. Bill is the creative lead on Miller Brewing and Nokia USA accounts and works on Whirlpool and new business initiatives as well. He has been with Digitas for three years and really enjoys working in the online field. Bill says that staying ahead of the curve and delivering innovative work is challenging.
Bill and his wife Lisa have lived in Phoenix and London and have traveled all over Europe. Bill said that his art history education has paid off as he was able to keep pace with his wife in every museum they visited (she has a master's in Contemporary Art History).
Renee McGinnis '84
Renee McGinnis '84 did graduate work in sociology and anthropology at the University of Chicago. Her paintings have been exhibited widely in Chicago and shown in Germany, Australia, New York City, Washington D.C. and Baltimore. Her curatorial debut occurred when she launched "The Chicago Solution Show 2003" with the late Ed Paschke as juror, then again in 2005 with Art Institute of Chicago curator of contemporary collections, James Rondeau. In 2002, Renee starred as herself in the Iranian-American film American Burqa. She currently lives in Chicago where she also works for WGN Television as a news graphic designer. McGinnis also gives slide lectures of her work at universities and inner-city public schools.
Robin Asbell '84 (formerly Calhoun)
Robin Asbell '84 has switched her creative drive away from painting into a career as a culinary professional, writing, speaking and teaching about food. Her first book, The New Whole Grains Cookbook, was published by Chronicle Books in October 2007. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Taunton's Fine Cooking, Better Homes and Gardens and Vegetarian Times. She has been a featured speaker around the state of Minnesota, addressing groups of up to 300 people at the University of Wisconsin Healthy Women's Expo, among others. She has been teaching classes about the joys of delicious, healthy food for over ten years and travels the country spreading the word.
Robin enjoys life in Minneapolis with her husband and three cats. Her schedule of events and some articles and recipes are at www.robinasbell.com.
Jeff Curto '81
Jeff Curto '81 is coordinator and professor of photography at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Ill., where he has taught since 1984. Courses frequently taught include "Creative Process," History of Photography," "Digital Imaging and Photographic Composition." Prior to employment at College of DuPage, Curto worked extensively as a freelance photographer, specializing in event and public relations photography, architectural interiors and exteriors, portrait and product photography. Curto was awarded a Master of Fine Arts degree from Bennington College in Vermont in 1983. Additionally, he attended Ansel Adams' last workshop in Carmel, Calif. in 1983.
Since 1989, Curto's primary photographic subjects have been found in Italy, where he travels yearly. While the country's landscape and architectural qualities interest him, it is not the large, expansive view which draws his attention. Rather, he chooses to examine selected fragments of the Italian environment, seen in quiet, intimate glimpses. In this way, luminously peaceful courtyards, sunlight on ageless monuments and the warmth radiating off of grapes ripening on the vine are all given equal importance as subject matter. Jeff exhibits his work periodically in both group and one-person shows. His glowing black and white and color prints are contained in numerous private and corporate collections. Examples of Jeff Curto's work can be found on his Web site at www.jeffcurto.com.