Maybe Suzanne Ócsai will help writers and designers get along a little better. As she joins the faculty of the Art and Design Program, she is in a unique position to negotiate a ceasefire between writers who fight for more words on the page, and designers who demand more white space.
“I have a background in writing, as well as design,” said Ócsai. “I’m passionate about helping students understand and appreciate the synergy between the fields. There’s so many times when graphic designers and writers really have to work together within the real world.”
Ócsai has a history of bringing together artistic gifts. Her “Beards with Stories” Instagram account combines her photographs of men on the street with background stories about their whiskers. She also created a logo for the project, which won an Addy award.
Raised as a homeschool student in rural Tennessee, she was always drawn to art, writing and photography. “When I was three years old, I told my mom I wanted to be an artist,” Ócsai recalled. “I would also have said that I wanted to be an author, but I couldn’t pronounce the word.”
Ócsai blows through life like a summer thunderstorm, sending flashes of creativity in all directions. She has created designs for the North American Division, photography for a local soccer team, writing for ADRA and videos for the Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians. One of her creative outlets is Instagram where she has “an undisclosed number” of accounts.
Ócsai is now focused on helping students get ready for a career in the creative arts. “She is teaching from more of an industry perspective — which I like,” says design major Arlyse Wash. “She sets up assignments like you are in the workplace.”
Ócsai encourages her design students to practice writing along with other forms of artistic expression. “If you’re working as a graphic designer, they’ll assume that you can take pictures or that you can edit video or manage their social media account,” she said. “So putting yourself in a position to get that experience before you graduate is vital.” And, who knows, it might put designers in a better position when they’re arguing for more white space.