Meet Ogonna Ononye, a graduate student a MICA pursuing a M.A. in Graphic Design and one of five new recipients for the 2020-2021 AIGA DC Design Continuum Fund Scholarship.
What was your journey to becoming a designer?
I have always been passionate about advocacy and social justice, and I have found storytelling to be the most compelling way to bridge communities and create intentional dialogue. Graphic design has always interested me because of its unique ability to tell stories using both language and evocative imagery. I studied journalism in college and moved into public health then higher education, all with the hopes of finding a perfect fit for advocacy work. But I kept being drawn to the idea of using more creative avenues to communicate, and finally took a chance on creating a portfolio and applying to art school. Now, I am in the MA Graphic Design program at the Maryland Institute College of Art, growing, learning, and thriving in all the ways I have wanted and more.
How would you describe your current design style and what are the influences that have helped you define that over time?
I am quite new to the professional design world and am still finding my style. Content wise, I want to make work that uplifts LGBTQIA+ folx of color, celebrates immigrants, and inspires people to share their stories. The style of work I am drawn to is bright, energetic, colorful, and immersive. I am inspired by the imaginative work of Robert Jahns who creates dreamy, almost fairy tale-like images that transport the viewer to a world within our world. I hope to create pieces that disrupt our ideas of reality and challenge the social constructs that inhibit our expressiveness.
What are some of your favorite projects you have worked on and why?
I directed, styled, and produced a photoshoot for a magazine concept called HauteCast Mag featuring my friends as models. It was my first venture into running photography, styling, and layout design all on my own, and gave a taste of what it would be to be an art director. My favorite part was working with my friends and having that vibrant, encouraging energy throughout the project. It makes me excited to hone my skills and work with more amazing folx in the future!
How do you wish to use design to make an impact or create change in the world?
I wish to use design as a dynamic medium for social change. To me, justice is the act of restoring what has been taken away while creating what we were forced to believe could never exist, and artists do exactly this work. I hope to use my platform as an artist to increase representation of marginalized identities behind the scenes and improve cultural competence in production.
What does being a DCF scholarship recipient mean to you?
Being recognized as a DCF scholarship recipient encourages me to continue pursuing my dreams.