Skyler Parrow-Strong is graduating from the University’s College of Arts + Architecture as a member of the Class of 2022. Originally from Baldwinsville, New York, she will complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Learn how she arrived in Charlotte, the best part about her internship and her post-Commencement plans.
How did you find and choose to come to UNC Charlotte?
I grew up in upstate New York my whole life and wanted to travel to a new place and step outside of my comfort zone. Throughout my childhood, my family explored the Carolinas, and I always knew I wanted to move here for college. I researched universities in North Carolina and fell in love with the Charlotte campus and community when I moved here.
Were you always focused on art or graphic design as a major?
In high school, I filled my schedule with engineering and art classes — like architectural drawing, digital media, CAD and film photography. I originally applied to UNC Charlotte as an undergraduate student in the civil engineering program. I became really interested in the fundamentals of design and knew I wanted to continue to study that field. Once I was admitted to the College of Arts + Architecture, I knew I had found my calling. Graphic design allows me to create compelling products and connect with clients to bring their ideas to life.
Have you been involved in extracurricular activities on campus?
I originally joined the Art and Mindfulness club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. The amazing and talented designers I met through these programs became some of my closest friends throughout my time at Charlotte. I eventually became the vice president of AIGA and helped found Niner Designers during my senior year. Niner Designers aims to provide support for every designer and graphic artist by fostering community, building a network of professionals and making design accessible to everyone, regardless of race, sex or religion. I also participated in Nova Literary-Arts Magazine. As lead designer for Nova, I initiated art direction, including the coordination of layouts for all artwork, literary submissions, peripheral pages, staff-created pages, poster, and flier designs. I also interned for CoA+A, which allowed me to create digital and print marketing material for dance and theater productions, as well as social media content. Additionally, I photographed exhibitions, performances and faculty portraits. Through all the organizations I've been a part of, I was able to practice and develop the skills and techniques I learned in my classes.
What was the best part of your internship at the Mint Museum?
As a graphic design intern for the Mint Museum in Charlotte two summers ago, I was responsible for rebranding their youth program, NexGen. The Mint offers young adults engaging artistic experiences and provides access to learning more about the museum and local artists. That was one of the first projects I was a part of that allowed me to apply skills I had learned in school to make a direct impact on my community. Furthermore, this opportunity provided me with motivation and a greater understanding of how I wanted to apply my strengths.
Is there one professor who most influenced your Charlotte journey?
I absolutely love being a part of CoA+A, because it is a small, personable community accepting of everyone. The college values individuality along with team collaboration. Cynthia Frank, a graphic design professor, inspired me to create designs with an emphasis on expressive typography, grid structures, and using constraints to strengthen my skill set. These conceptual ideas have expanded my perspective on new design applications and allowed me to grow as a designer and person overall.
Do you have a favorite place on campus?
My favorite place on campus is easily the pond in front of the library. Whenever I have reading assignments for my classes, I set my hammock up near the edge of the water and dive right into my books.
What advice would you share with a high school student who is interested in art or graphic design?
To any student interested in joining the CoA+A family: Don’t be afraid to fail and make mistakes. Art and graphic design are all about trying new things, having fun and creating with passion. The unexpected will bring about results you never thought of, along with an increased appreciation and awareness for your craft.
What comes next for you?
After receiving my degree in graphic design, I plan to move to the coast and work for an agency that specializes in branding and package design. Through my experiences at Charlotte, I hope to continue exploring various forms of design, and how I can implement them in my local community.
Inside UNC Charlotte is featuring members of the Class of 2022 as part of its coverage of Spring Commencement. Read more about these graduates:
Kendall Britton, Lee College of Engineering
Noah Hansil, School of Data Science
Ayushi Patel, College of Computing and Informatics
Priya Patel, College of Health and Human Services
Marice Raynor, Belk College of Business
Dakota Walker, Cato College of Education
Kaela Williams, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences