You’ll join a remarkable network of alumni making impacts in a diverse range of fields. Whether directing Academy Award-winning films or leading a globally renowned design firm, our graduates continue to pursue the inquiry they began at RISD through dynamic careers with expansive, influential reach.
Rich, Brilliant, Willing
BFA 06 Furniture Design
After graduating in 2006, Theo Richardson, Charles Brill and Alex Williams repurposed their own last names to launch a NYC-based design studio called Rich Brilliant Willing. Since then they have made a distinctive mark in the design world by creating desirable products that are both disarmingly simple and totally user-oriented. In doing so, they have also earned broad critical acclaim, winning the ICFF Best New Designers Award in 2011 and making Forbes’ list of the Top 30 Under 30 in design talent.
BFA 11 Interior Architecture
When Alina Vadera first graduated, she thought about moving to New York—as most designers do. But she quickly reconsidered when she realized that given the economic downturn in the US, her home country was where things were really happening in the world of architecture: “Construction is booming in India,” she says. So in 2011 Vadera returned to her home city of Delhi, where she now freelances and handles projects for the award-winning firm Studio Lotus. She recently completed a new retail space for Indian fashion designer Gurav Gupta that captures the duality of his Indian and Western collections.
BFA 08 Graphic Design
After graduation Jessica Walsh worked at Pentagram and Print magazine, while freelancing for AIGA, I.D. magazine, Technology Review and The New York Times, among others. Her work has won recognition in leading competitions, with Computer Arts citing her as a Top Rising Star in Design and the Art Directors Club naming her a Young Gun in its annual round-up of promising new talent. To top it off, in 2012 revered designer Stefan Sagmeister invited her to become a partner in his firm, which is now known as Sagmeister & Walsh.
BFA 04 Film/Animation/Video
Within five years of graduation, video artist Ryan Trecartin had landed a trio of major awards, racking up more than $200,000 in art prizes. And it all started with his RISD senior degree project. Now, less than a decade later, the art critic for The New Yorker has proclaimed him "the most consequential artist to have emerged since the 1980s," while New York Times critic Roberta Smith predicts he's "bound for greatness."
BFA 92 Illustration
For more than 20 years, Shepard Fairey has critiqued and shaped popular culture through guerrilla art campaigns of global proportions. Now, he’s a fine artist, graphic designer, commercial artist and entrepreneur best known for his ubiquitous 2008 Hope poster of Barack Obama. His image of the president is in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and led to a commission for the cover of TIME magazine. For the last decade, Fairey has also been working in the commercial realm through his LA-based creative agency Studio Number One.
BFA 89 Glass
Multimedia artist and 2006 MacArthur Award winner Josiah McElheny is fascinated with space, time and the notions of infinity and purity. While at RISD in the mid-1980s, he studied in Rome through the school’s European Honors Program and worked with master glassblowers such as Ronald Wilkins in London. McElheny currently lives and works in New York City, where he's represented by Andrea Rosen Gallery and has recently exhibited at White Cube in London and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
BFA 99 Textiles
When Rachel Doriss first came to RISD, she was already head over heels in love with textiles and planned to open a small weaving studio in rural Vermont. But while studying both printed and woven techniques, she developed an itch to explore practical applications within the textiles industry. Once Doriss moved to NYC after graduation, she initially landed a job designing printed scarves at Echo before joining Mark Pollack [BFA 76/Textiles] at his namesake firm POLLACK, where she is now vice president and design director.
Do Ho Suh
BFA 94 Painting
When Do Ho Suh first left Korea to study at RISD, he didn’t realize that the experience would inspire an ongoing body of work focused on questions of cultural and personal identity. Now he divides his time between New York, London and Seoul, creating profound site-specific installations that are in high demand throughout the world. Suh’s work is included in almost every major museum collection, from the Whitney, the Guggenheim and MoMA in New York City to the Tate Modern in London to Artsonje Center in Seoul and the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo.
BFA 02 Illustration
Working out of her studio in Brooklyn, NY, Julia Rothman combines disparate interests into a career of her own making. She freelances as an illustrator and pattern designer, creating products, designs and branding for clients ranging from Anthropologie to Crate & Barrel, The New York Times, Urban Outfitters and Victoria’s Secret. In addition, Rothman runs the design studio Also with two RISD friends, and based on her lifelong love of books, writes a book blog and has published three book projects of her own: Drawn In, The Exquisite Book and Farm Anatomy.
BArch 85 Architecture
The recipient of a 2012 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, the Los Angeles-based architect Michael Maltzan designs homes, art centers, public housing complexes and landscapes to stimulate and engage users. Founded in 1995, Michael Maltzan Architecture is committed to the idea that good design should benefit people of all socio-economic backgrounds. He has embraced commissions like the one for LA’s Inner-City Arts campus as readily as for Michael Ovitz’s Beverly Hills villa. Maltzan is the design architect for the Sixth Street Viaduct in LA, a new bridge and urban park that foresees a multimodal future for the city.
BFA 00 Jewelry + Metalsmithing
Balancing a studio practice with her position as senior jewelry designer at FGX International, Tzu-Ju Chen creates work that incorporates artistic traditions from around the world. At FGX she designs products for labels such as No Boundary and Style & Co. and works closely with art directors, clients and overseas vendors. Chen draws inspiration from various cultures encountered during her travels — including her year in Rome as part of RISD’s European Honors Program. A subsequent Fulbright Fellowship in China further fueled her research into working with unorthodox materials.
BFA 98 Sculpture
As a visiting artist, sculptor Jim Drain recently collaborated with RISD students on developing a site-specific piece for a new US Embassy compound set to open in Rabat, Morocco in 2014. For the Miami-based artist and 2005 recipient of the prestigious Baloise Prize given at Art Basel, the commission from the US State Department’s office of Art in Embassies offered the perfect opportunity to work across disciplines on a cross-cultural project with global impact.
BFA 03 Printmaking
Mural artist Jane Kim majored in Printmaking at RISD and says her education shaped how she works as an artist. In addition to honing technical art skills, she learned to ask herself why she makes what she does. After graduation, Kim pursued her love of nature by enrolling in the Science Illustration Program at California State University at Monterey Bay. She is currently working on a series of roadside murals in the American west depicting endangered species, such as the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, in order to draw attention to their plight.
BFA 99 Ceramics
Providence-based artist Jungil Hong has been working with the nonprofit GAC since 2012 to raise money to build community housing in a rural Rwandan village. Hong was born in Korea, earned her BFA from RISD and also studied at the Penland School of Crafts, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts. She has won numerous awards, including an RISCA Fellowship Merit Award, and has shown her work in such museums as MASS MoCA, the International Print Center in New York and the New Image Art Gallery in West Hollywood.
Gus Van Sant
BFA 75 Film/Animation/Video
Known for his audacious, often offbeat movies, director Gus Van Sant has built his success on a magical combination of ingenious writing, perceptive casting and a healthy obsession with detail. From Good Will Hunting to Finding Forrester to Milk, he has shown great range while maintaining an independent voice, as seen most recently in Promised Land, his 2013 feature about fracking.
BFA 73 Apparel Design
Fashion icon Nicole Miller recently won Philadelphia University’s 2013 Spirit of Design Award for outstanding contributions to the world of design and the inspiration she provides to students and young designers. Launched in 1982, her label now includes women’s apparel, handbags, footwear, jewelry, bridal wear and men’s sportswear. Miller credits RISD with inspiring her sense of freedom and creativity. She remains connected with the college as a visiting critic and mentor to RISD students, as well as a trustee.
BFA 99 Illustration
children’s book author/illustrator
Author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka has been passionate about storytelling through words and pictures since he was a kid. He has written 20 published books, including the Lunch Lady series, which has won two Children’s Choice Book Awards and was featured on National Public Radio. His TED Talk, which chronicles his journey from boy to artist, has been viewed more than a half-million times, and his Punk Farm and Lunch Lady series are currently in development as feature films.
BFA 89 Photography
commercial + fine art photographer
Whether she's photographing Hollywood celebrities or taking her own fine art photos—often of children or animals—Jill Greenberg manages to focus on the iconic. Her use of light and color exaggerates the figure while reducing it to its essence, allowing her to capture raw emotion, along with the attention of increasing numbers of viewers. Currently based in New York, Greenberg brings her inimitable style to assignment work for clients such as GQ, HBO, Showtime, Universal Pictures and Wired, among many others.
BIA 95 Interior Architecture
Throughout her career, Andrea Valentini has focused on incorporating unconventional industrial materials into inventive designs for furniture, lighting, handbags, accessories, wearable art and interior applications. Her critically acclaimed Coosh egg chair has been recognized by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and her work has been included in the museum’s popular triennial exhibitions. As she continues to develop innovative new products and design sensual interiors, Valentini remains committed to creating art for everyday living.
Among the RISD graduates who are making the future are Tanya Aguiñiga Natalia Almada Janine Antoni Ashley Axios Miyoshi Barosh Huma Bhabha Deborah Berke Mary Boone Jamie Carpenter Ilene Chaiken Roz Chast Dale Chihuly Martha Coolidge Rafael de Cárdenas Liz Deschenes Amy Devers Alex Dodge Nicole Eisenman Spencer Finch Lizzie Fitch Walton Ford Chris Frantz Tobias Frere-Jones Michael Gabellini Kenneth Goldsmith Jenny Holzer Henry Horenstein Roni Horn Misha Kahn Daniel Kim Jemima Kirke David Macaulay Seth MacFarlane Julie Mehretu Martin Mull Mary Murphy Josh Owen Laura Owens Marcia Patmos Robert Richardson Michael Rock Anna Schuleit Haber Susan Sellers Brian Selznick Arlene Shechet Julia Sherman Shahzia Sikander Adam Silverman Therman Statom David Stark Katie Stout Scott Stowell Chris Van Allsburg Kara Walker Tina Weymouth David Wiesner James Wynn JooHee Yoon Andrea Zittel