Graphic Design Student Association brings back creative space

Baylor senior Abby Granata created the Graphic Design Student Association, in which creatives could prepare themselves for the real world. Photo courtesy of Baylor Graphic Design Student Association

By Clara Snyder | Staff Writer

In fall 2020, Wall Township, N.J., senior and Graphic Design Student Association president Abigail Granata set out to create a space where Baylor students could develop their portfolios, meet with professional designers, get real world preparation and collaborate with peers who share a love for design. After about a year of working toward getting the organization chartered, the Graphic Design Student Association finally began this past fall semester and now has 35 members.

“I just felt like a lot of times, society as a whole does not necessarily always value people in creative professions or the creative industry,” Granata said. “I felt like there was a missing opportunity on our campus for all of these design students to be prepared for our careers and work together.”

Graphic designers have been in high demand, according to a Fabrik article by Stephen Peate on the past, present and future of graphic design. IBISWorld projects that the graphic design industry’s market size will increase by 1.9% in 2022.

“Today’s brands rely on their designers not just to create logos and tactical communication pieces but to establish presence for them in the online world and build recognition for their brand,” Peate said in a Fabrik article. “Inspiration and guidance are everywhere, transforming graphic designers into masters of consumer manipulation.”

Austin senior and vice president Cara Smyrl worked with Granata to found the club. Smyrl said COVID-19 impacted the sharing of creativity through the community that existed prior to the pandemic.

“We just felt like after our sophomore year when we were taking those intro-level classes, the level of community that we felt was kind of lost because of COVID,” Smyrl said. “We wanted to bring back the shared creative space for design but make it for all grades.”

Granata said the Graphic Design Student Association offers a variety of events throughout the semester. Some events are directly related to professional development, while others use the members’ common interest in graphic design to bring the group together.

“Last semester, our most successful event was having our Baylor design alum, Josh Martin, come in and speak about his experience working for Disney,” Granata said. “We’ll have more social events [this semester]. Last semester, we did a movie night on the documentary ‘Helvetica’ … the font and how ubiquitous and famous it is.”

Another notable aspect of the association is its value of a shared space for creativity.

“Something we started to implement at the end of last semester was having a critique time for anyone who had a project due soon,” Smyrl said. “They could present it to the group, and then we could have a brief critique on what we think they should change because that’s something we get during class time, but to have more voices is always helpful.”

Granata said the Graphic Design Student Association is relevant to those going into a creative industry because of the emphasis it has on career readiness. Creative industries are unique and warrant a different type of preparation, according to Granata.

“Part of the reason why having a graphic design-specific professional development organization is important is because what we do is a little bit different than what a lot of majors and other disciplines do after leaving Baylor,” Granata said. “Our resume and portfolio looks a lot different than maybe business majors, and our interviews will potentially look a lot different than science majors.”

No matter what your major is, the Graphic Design Student Association can be useful to students who desire to pursue a career in design, Granata said. Although the association focuses on graphic design, there are a handful of members who are not graphic design majors.

“Even though our primary focus is to encourage and uplift one another in terms of entering the graphic design market, more than anything we just want to have fun, and we really want to cultivate a community of fellow creatives where we can collaborate and talk nerdy about design together,” Granata said. “I think that’s something that’s lacking here at Baylor, so I’m just really excited for the future of the organization and all the diverse people and group of designers that we’ll cultivate here for years to come.”

The Graphic Design Student Association meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of every month in the graphic design lab of the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center (Room 162D). There are dues for members, but Smyrl and Granata said they desire to let all interested students be a part of the association. The Graphic Design Student Association is willing to work with students who have different needs in order to allow anyone to participate, Smyrl said.

“Check out our Instagram: gdsa.baylor,” Granata said. “In our bio, we have links to our application as well as our newsletter, our slideshow that explains what we’re all about. And in general, our GDSA email is a great source. The email is”