Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The WestConn Production Team

Peggy Stewart, Ellen Myhill and Jason Davis all graduated with a graphic design degree, Ellen in 2001 and Jason and Peggy both in 1998. Peggy is now working full time as a photographer and Jason is the director of Production and Design, with Ellen as the Assistant Director.

Peggy began in the department as a university assistant right after graduation. She was hired by Diane Golden, then director, who had graduated from the program in 1981. Peggy said the department staff has always been flexible and hard working, providing a service to the WestConn community, always using art students as interns and for assistance on various projects. She added that Sophia Duarte ’12 is her current photography assistant. The full staff works with all the departments, with Institutional Advancement and with Public Relations to determine the priorities and to ensure each project has proper staffing and will make deadline. They do a tremendous amount of work with the admissions department, focusing on campus promotions.

Peggy began as a design major and started her concentration in photography after six months. As a student, she assisted with design layouts and was the student lab tech for Bill Quinnell, then chair of photography. Peggy is excited about the continuation of the Candlewood Lake Project, a project in which the science department is working with the director of Candlewood Lake Authority (CLA), Larry Marsicano, on various research projects at of Candlewood Lake. Marsicano sees another long–term benefit from WestConn’s research the lake –training of a new generation aware of the importance of conserving precious fresh–water resources. The Production and Design staff are beginning the next phase, supplying images and working with the science faculty. Additional information can be found at

As a photographer, Peggy is now working with the with the campus camps. During the academic year, she is pulled in many directions and it is so important to have a student assistant. They also support the community. Jason and Peggy are working on a calendar as a fundraiser for a local non-profit. Peggy added, “It’s an easy way to build support for the university and contribute to the community. We have provided work for HORD,HVCA, of course the Candlewood Lake project, and for the summer have done some work for the Ives Center.” They provide a marketing piece, signage and photography for the programs.

Ellen started in the department as a student intern in 2001 and became a full time graphic designer in 2003, also working as a computer and photography assistant. She became assistant director in 2005. She works on the View Book, with the theatre department, the music department and oversees the student appointed to develop the theatre poster. She is now working on the pieces need for the late October groundbreaking of the SVPA new building. She enjoys her work because it is always different but there is also a schedule including theatre projects in September, the MFA program begins in February and the jazz festival in April. She likes that she’s specialized but the themes will always change, and always great with a variety of programs.

Ellen is proud to say she developed the 2010 View Books, with the design on a 4 year cycle. This book is provided to incoming freshmen and has to have something new and exciting with each printing. She likes to come up with new ideas. This year they used more photography than usual. It was liked by so many that the next View design will be the same. She is now working on a slide show for recruitment and will start on a piece to build on the same concept and add to it.
Ellen received a math degree in 1991 and worked in that area for seven years. She came back to school to receive her degree in graphic design.

Jason, became director of Production and Design in May 2001. He worked as a student intern in graphic design but then began working in university computing full time. He left after 1 ½ years to work at Ethan Allen as a graphic designer. When Diane retired to the Adirondacks, Jason returned to WestConn, expanding the role of the entire department. He explained that the department used to design and send materials out for production and printing. They now write, layout, print and produce mast of what is designed. He added, “Peggy’s position now being full time has allowed the department to be involved in more departments at all levels, plus doing some community projects.” The in-house production has increased immensely. Jason said, “We used to send out 95% of our work and now we send out only 25% to 30% and we always compare costs before making a decision whether to do the job in-house or outside. He explained that they can produce booklets, programs, invitations, signage and posters. They have large scale production equipment allowing for pieces up to 65” wide. He added, “We have saved hundreds of thousands out of house costs. We have increased our work load and can control our output investment over time.” Jason provided an example of the savings by explaining that when he started it would cost $15000 - $20000 to print a catalog and this year that same size catalog cost $800 using the equipment we now own. They now provide all materials for research conferences and meetings on campus.

Jason said they are now working on a spring project for WestConn soccer. It consists of an 11 piece project and only one is being done out of house. Jason says, “That is tremendous! We have 7-8 people working on the project, a true collaborative.” I am incredibly proud that the whole project is being done by our people.”

The projects are evolving again with the availability of online printing. He is again comparing costs from online print vendors, often having a better option than the department can produce. The department is now more of a resource for the campus and provides new initiatives which land on the shoulders of the staff. They have proven themselves over and over again. Each designer has quadrupled their workload over the past seven to ten years and is often working on six to eight, even ten jobs at a time.

The staff also adopts an outside project each year. Many of the organizations we work with give back to the university, but the department staff enjoys supporting the community. We are making a difference in their non-profit goals. Jason adds, “We have done some amazing stuff and it shows the community what we can do.” Jason is the dad to four girls with his wife Amy, another 1998 graduate of WestConn.
Others on staff include Irene Sherlock, Fredrica Paine, (the only non-WestConn grad) and Jane Walsh. Irene has been with the department since 1984 after receiving her degree in writing. She earned her master’s in English in 1991 and has been teaching creative writing since. She will be retiring September 1st and beginning a new career as a counselor. She is interning with MCCA to prepare for the change. Jane added, “Just about everyone who works in this department is a WestConn graduate and we are all committed to the students.” Jane received her degree in English in 1996 and works on brochures, programs, diplomas, certificates and the WestConn Report. She began in the department in 2001. An additional WestConn graduate works in the Print Shop. Connie Conway received her degree in American Studies.