School of Art + Design Career Futures

The School of Art + Design annual Career Futures event connects students with professionals who represent career paths in arts, art & technology, and product design. Professionals share their career-path stories, their experiences in their fields/industries, and their advice for students.

In consideration of ongoing global health conditions, the 2021 Career Futures event was entirely remote and consisted of three successive panelist discussions followed by one-on-one portfolio review meetings. Scroll to see all professionals' brief bios.


2021 Career Futures

The following panel discussions and portfolio reviews were held on Friday, April 30, 2021.

Product Design Professionals Panel Discussion

Panelists:

Becky Chierichetti, BFA ’16, Product Design
Sean Kelly, BFA ’11, Product Design
Katie Lee, BFA ’14, Product Design


Art Professionals Panel Discussion

Panelists:

Natalie Ball, BA ’05, Art and Ethnic Studies
Peter Happel Christian, MFA ’03, Art
Jenene Nagy, MFA ’04, Art


Art & Technology Professionals Panel Discussion

Panelists:

Carly Hagen, BFA ’17, Art & Technology
Nico Toll, BA ’14, Art & Technology
Mary Vertulfo, BFA ’18, Art & Technology


Limited Portfolio Review Appointments with Art, Art & Technology, and Product Design Professionals

Majors in Art, Art & Technology, and/or Product Design were invited to sign up for a virtual 20-minute, one-on-one portfolio review meeting with a professional who also is an alumni. This was a great opportunity for students to talk about and share their work and receive feedback based in experience.

Product Design Reviewers:

Sawyer Alcazar-Hagen, BFA ’20, Product Design
Keenan Keeley, BA ’11, Product Design
Zach Meyer, BFA ’17, Product Design
Sara Novak, BA ’15, Product Design
Liz Zarro, BFA ’15, Product Design

Art Reviewers:

Crystal Gregory, BFA ’08, Art
Peter Happel Christian, MFA ’03, Art
Lily Martina Lee, MFA ’12, Art
Jenene Nagy, MFA ’04, Art

Art & Technology Reviewers:

Nathan Bergfelt, BFA ’17, Art & Technology
Elora Kelsh, BFA ’17, Art & Technology
Adam Paikowsky, BS ’13, Digital Arts
Nico Toll, BA ’14, Art & Technology
Mary Vertulfo, BFA ’18, Art & Technology


Participating Professionals

Sawyer Alcazar-Hagen, BFA ’20, Product Design

Sawyer Alcazar-Hagen

In Sawyer Alcazar-Hagen’s final year at the University of Oregon College of Design, he was recognized as the Western District SMA Winner by the Industrial Design Society of America. He believes rigorous research leads to great design, and with great design we can create a better future. He is currently working as an industrial designer at Vvolt, an electric mobility startup based in Portland, Oregon. As a core member of the Vvolt design team, he strives to rethink personal mobility with cutting-edge design and create a greener future.

Natalie Ball, BA ’05, Art and Ethnic Studies

Natalie Ball

Natalie Ball was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the UO, she furthered her education in New Zealand at Massey University where she attained her Master’s degree, focusing on Indigenous contemporary art. She then relocated to her ancestral homelands to raise her three children. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, including the Half Gallery, NY; Vancouver Art Gallery, BC; Blum & Poe, LA; Portland Art Museum, OR; Gagosian, NY; Seattle Art Museum, WA; Almine Rech Gallery, FR; and SculptureCenter, NY. Natalie attained her MFA in Painting & Printmaking at Yale School of Art in 2018. She is the recipient of the 2020 Bonnie Bronson Award, 2020 Joan Mitchell Painters & Sculptors Grant, 2019 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, and the 2018 Betty Bowen Award from the Seattle Art Museum.

Nathan Bergfelt, BFA ’17, Art & Technology

Nathan Bergfelt

Nathan Bergfelt is a Designer in Portland, Oregon working for the creative agency Think Joule as their in-house Motion Designer. He graduated from UO in Art + Technology, focusing on Animation and Storyboarding with a strong passion for Branding. He spent his 5th year in an intensive thesis-driven program at the satellite campus in Portland. There he got heavily involved with the city’s local creative scene such as Design Week Portland and Portland Independent Gaming Squad. Now working for Think Joule, a small but mighty marketing studio, he collaborates with clients ranging from real estate to non-profits to tech startups. He wears many hats daily, but is the team’s specialist for projects involving animation, illustration, video, and photography.

Becky Chierichetti, BFA ’16, Product Design

Becky Chierichetti

Becky Chierichetti is a user experience researcher and designer working in the Human-AI Research group at Intel Labs. Her BFA is in Product Design, although she focused equally on architecture, product design, and digital art. As a designer, she seeks to understand the relationship users have (or would like to have) with technology and works alongside engineers to make it real. Research tasks include designing and executing studies with users to explore themes of human/AI collaboration in various domains such as education and remote collaboration. Design work involves manifesting the research results in the form of explorative prototyping. Additionally, she leads many design thinking activities to bolster creativity and engaging conversations in the Labs. Outside the office, Becky enjoys drawing and other artistic endeavors as well as martial arts training.

Crystal Gregory, BFA ’08, Arts

Crystal Gregory

Crystal Gregory earned her MFA in Fiber and Material Studies in 2013 from the School of Art Institute in Chicago. Her sculpture work investigates the intersections between textile and architecture. In 2013 she was awarded The Leonore Annenberg Fellowship for the Performing and Visual Arts and subsequently moved to Amsterdam, where she was Guest Artist at The Gerrit Rietveld Academie of Art. Her work has been exhibited nationally including at the Rockwell Museum of Art, Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Projects, The Hunterdon Art Museum, and Black and White Project Space. It has been reviewed in Hyperallergic, Surface Design Journal, Art Critical, and Peripheral Vision Press. Gregory is an assistant professor within the School of Arts and Visual Studies at the University of Kentucky and currently shows with Tappan Collective in Los Angeles as well as Momentum Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina.

Carly Hagen, BFA ’17, Art & Technology

Carly Hagen

Carly Hagen is a creative technologist at Upswell in Portland, Oregon. She writes software for interactive museum kiosks and other educational technologies. Her specialties include data visualization, UX design, and rapid prototyping. Carly focused on generative code art while at the University of Oregon. Since then, she’s worked on everything from experimental UX interfaces to virtual dissections to fisheries population modeling. Her work is driven by a passion for scientific communication and accessible design.

Peter Happel Christian, MFA ’03, Art

Peter Happel Christian

Peter Happel Christian is a photographer who makes sculpture, installations, and artist books. His works are found in various collections including the International Center of Photography in New York City, Tucson Museum of Art, John M. Flaxman Library Special Collections in Chicago, and Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City. Happel Christian is a 2011–12 recipient of a McKnight Photography Fellowship and a 2015 recipient of the Ansel Adams Research Fellowship. In 2014, Conveyor Editions published Happel Christian’s first monograph, Half Wild, and he has since published projects with Clear As Day and Skylark Editions. His new book, Same Sum, will be released by Conveyor Editions in 2021. Since 2009, Happel Christian has taught at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota where he is professor of Integrated Media in the Art Department.

Keenan Keeley, BA ’11, Product Design

Keenan Keeley

As the Director of Production and Design and day-to-day leader of studio functions at Big-Giant, Keenan manages and drives the process of delivering the best product possible within the project’s parameters. His extensive experience overseeing creative operations, design, fabrication and installations gives him a unique insight into the full project process from creative strategy to solution focused ideation to the on-ground install processes—critical for internal and external teams to be successful in achieving the project’s multifaceted goals. With a background and focus in Environmental Design, he is a multifaceted design professional.

Sean Kelly, BFA ’11, Product Design

Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly is a product designer at Grovemade in Portland, Oregon, where he creates home office accessories from natural materials, which he hopes help people do their best work. For the past 10 years, his side hustles have included co-founding and designing for a tech startup and mentoring art and design students at local high schools and colleges. When it comes to his work, Kelly is a huge nerd for process not only in design but also in building companies and in manufacturing. When he is not being a total nerd, you can find him being a dad and eating the many ramens and bagels that Portland has to offer.

Elora Kelsh, BFA ’17, Art & Technology

Elora Kelsh

Originally from Pleasanton, California, Elora Kelsh is a marketing professional and digital artist based in Eugene, Oregon. Elora earned her BFA in Art & Technology and minor in Business Administration from the University of Oregon. She currently works as the Manager of Marketing and Communications for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and serves on the board of Eugene Darkroom Group. Elora polished her Spanish language proficiency during her time in Seville studying international business, and she lived in Guadalajara for a year working at an advertising agency. Elora is experienced in video art, photography, illustration, animation, and collage, and is passionate about bringing her creative energy to support local the business and art communities.

Katie Lee, BFA ’14, Product Design

Katie Lee

Katie Lee is a multidisciplinary designer specializing in design research, trends, and communicating user insights through stories that help bring innovative products, services, and strategies to life. Her work combines a background in product and service design with user-centered design thinking at its core. She is passionate about helping brands connect with their consumers on a deeper level and translating their needs into actionable insights and solutions. She also helps bring those ideas to life though ideation and prototyping and testing those concepts with users. Past clients range from small business-to-consumer start-ups to large Fortune 500 companies in sportswear, technology, healthcare, and finance. Katie is currently based in Portland, Oregon, working as a senior design researcher at Evolve Collaborative.

Lily Martina Lee, MFA ’12, Art

Lily Martina Lee

Lily Martina Lee was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Working in material processes from metal fabrication to handweaving, her work is a contemporary portrait of the American West. Lee's current body of work, The Great Basin Murders, is a collaboration with Carrie Quinney about unsolved homicides in the 1970s–’90s and will exhibit at the Wilbur D. May Museum in Reno, Nevada, in May 2021. Lee has exhibited her work in the Ukraine, Portugal, Hungary, Italy, and Greece and in numerous exhibitions throughout the United States, including Northwest Art Now at the Tacoma Art Museum and the Commuter Biennial in Miami, Florida. Lee is the first Idaho artist to participate in the Fountainhead Residency in Miami. She is an associate professor of Sculpture at Boise State University.

Zach Meyer, BFA ’17, Product Design

Zach Meyer

Zach Meyer is the Lead Industrial Designer for Stumpworx, a custom prosthetic design and fabrication center based in Portland, Oregon. In this role, he blends experience working in firms that follow more traditional industrial design processes with technically focused iterative prototype firms. Passionate about all people’s ability to interact with the world and intrigued most by textile-based product design and manufacture, Zach is driven by design's role in creating a future that fits and functions for us all.

Jenene Nagy, MFA ’04, Art

Jenene Nagy

Jenene Nagy is a visual artist working in the Inland Empire. Recent solo venues include PDX CONTEMPORARY ART; Iris Project, Los Angeles; Art on Paper, New York City; University of Wisconsin; and the Minneapolis College of Art + Design. Her work has been recognized with grants from the Foundation of Contemporary Art, the Oregon Arts Commission, the Ford Family Foundation, and, in 2016, a nomination for the United States Artist Fellowship. Her work is held in several permanent collections including the Portland Art Museum and Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts. Reviews of Nagy’s work have appeared in Monopol, the Boston Globe, The Oregonian, and Artscape Magazine. From 2011 to 2012 Nagy was the first Curator-in-Residence for Disjecta Contemporary Art Center in Portland.

Sara Novak, BA ’15, Product Design

Sara Novak

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Sara grew up playing soccer, exploring the Oregon coast, and collecting magazines. Her fascination with the intersection of sport and culture led her to pursue a career in an industry that caters to both. After landing an internship with adidas in 2016, Sara worked on the running footwear team for two years before moving to Los Angeles to design with the Yeezy team. A year later she came back to the running team in Portland, where she currently works. Outside of the office Sara loves to run, chef-up fancy ramen, and plot travel adventures with friends.

Adam Paikowsky, BS ’13, Digital Arts

Adam Paikowsky

Adam is a creative and a maker, working in a variety of mediums for brands, artists and cultural institutions. Currently the Technical Director at a studio called dotdotdash and based in New York City, he continues to work in both commercial advertising and with independent artists and musicians. Over the past 10 years he has worked to build out permanent physical installations and exhibits, kinetic art pieces, large scale touring production as well as a variety of web based and digital experiences including AR and VR. His expertise sits at the intersection of software development, hardware engineering, digital fabrication and interaction design.

Nico Toll, BA ’14, Art & Technology

Nico Toll

Nico Toll has been working as a video editor in the commercial film industry for six years. Dubbed an “adventure doc editor,” he seeks to tell authentic stories and cultivate connection through them. He thrives on the performative aspects of his work—crafting emotional spaces for audiences and viewers to connect and continuing to look for balance in both self-discovery and self-expression through his art.

Mary Vertulfo, BFA ’18, Art & Technology

Mary Vertulfo

Mary Vertulfo is an illustrator and animator in Portland, Oregon. Currently a motion designer at Hovercraft Studio (Portland/Denver), she has worked with creatives from all over the world on projects for use in advertising, television, music videos and live projection, and more. Outside work, she enjoys writing for personal animations and stories, collaborating with artists and clients, and meeting other young animators and professionals interested in building a more accessible and inclusive industry. Mary is thrilled and honored to join other alumni and participate in Career Futures and is eager to help the next wave of ducks leave the University of Oregon nest!

Liz Zarro, BFA ’15, Product Design

Liz Zarro

Liz Zarro designs and develops products for performance outdoor dog gear company Ruffwear in Bend, Oregon. She started her career in 2013 as a freelance designer, developing products and spaces for clients such as TBWA\CHIAT\DAY, BMW, Nike, Disney, and Arc’teryx. A few years after earning her BFA, Liz began working for Ruffwear as a freelancer before being offered a full-time position. When Liz and Bernie, her cattle dog-pitbull-shar pei mix, aren’t hard at work in the design studio, they can be found testing new product concepts on their favorite outdoor trails around Oregon. Liz recently led the implementation of direct-to-consumer product creation for Ruffwear, which kicked off an organization-wide effort to consume surplus materials and added to an overall sustainability initiative.