Santina Busalacchi (’21).

What exactly does a graphic designer do? We are Wilkinson sat down with graphic design major, Santina Busalacchi ’21 who has been essential this semester in creating some of Wilkinson’s very special projects.

You created the word cloud for Wilkinson, a new Wilkinson brand we all love (especially, Dean Jennifer D. Keene, pictured below). Tell us how you came up with it.

This past summer we [The Ideation Lab – which supports Chapman faculty and staff in creating visualization and presentation projects] received a request from

Dean Jennifer D. Keene, seen here, holding the Wilkinson bag with word cloud graphic with Wilkinson staff.

Wilkinson to create a bag inspired by the Lululemon bags everyone loves, to pass out to first year students during Orientation Week. I remember having a tight deadline for this project, so the process behind the design feels like a whirlwind now. Eric [Chimenti, Graphic Design Professor] had just told us that Wilkinson was getting a new Dean, Dr. Keene, so I decided to read her Dean’s Message for inspiration. As I read through, I picked out words and phrases that resonated with me. The goal for the word cloud was to give new students and parents a glimpse into what being a Wilkinson student is all about. I wanted students to feel inspired and empowered by the design. As their eyes moved throughout the design, they could see all the opportunities for academic and personal growth Wilkinson has to offer.

What other projects have you created for Wilkinson?

Public Policy Flyer.

In terms of other Wilkinson projects, you might recognize the designs from the 4th and 5th Annual Local Government Conference that is organized by the Political Science department. The 5th Annual Conference is one of my favorite projects I’ve done for Wilkinson. Dr. Smoller came to us with this big idea for the conference, which was on the future of transportation. He brought inspiration images that resembled The Jetsons. My dad had introduced me to the cartoon when I was younger, so I was really excited to delve into this project. The project took almost the entire semester and I did countless sketches of spaceships, futuristic buildings, and flying robots. I am always grateful for a project that allows me to push my creative limits and design something that will directly impact the lives of others in a positive way. In addition, I’ve done a variety of flyers and brochures for departments around campus and have worked on a few issues of the Anastamos graduate journal. Also, keep an eye out for the Wilkinson Holiday Card!

2019 Wilkinson College holiday card.

Ohhhh, the holiday card. Tell us about that!

I was selected to create the holiday card because the word cloud was such a success on the tote bags and Wilkinson was looking for other ways in which to incorporate that design. The main thing we kept in mind about the holiday card was that we wanted the word cloud to feel differently than it did on the tote bag. By using a darker shade of the Chapman red for the design, I was able to push the word cloud into the background a bit and draw more emphasis on the holiday lights. By doing this, the design avoids feeling repetitive while also continuing to highlight the unique attributes of the college.

What inspires you when working on a project?

Wilkinson word cloud created by graphic design student Santina Busalacchi (’21).

For my work in the Ideation Lab, research is essential in how I develop ideas for projects. I use the same comprehensive process that is taught in Chapman’s Graphic Design classes. It’s important for me to consider the target audience for a given project and what tone the design should impress upon the viewer. Sketching is also a major component of the design process. Sketching allows me to get a lot of ideas out quickly and see clearly what works and what doesn’t. My favorite part of this step is that it allows inspiration to strike. Often you come out with a sketch that is not what you originally intended, but is perfect for the project. Listening to music is also a large source of inspiration for me. It allows my mind to quiet and enter into a focused, creative zone.

What do you hope to do after graduation … what is your dream job?

My ultimate dream job is to be an Imagineer at Disney. Ever since I was a kid, I have been completely captivated by the process behind all the work that goes into the parks. The way they can bring wildly imaginative ideas and concepts into tangible experiences is what inspires me to pursue graphic design. My main focus after graduating is to keep creating meaningful work even if my path does not lead to my dream job right away. Chapman’s Graphic Design program has provided me with the tools in which to develop my artistic voice and discover new ways in which to think critically about design. No matter what path I embark on after graduation, I know the Graphic Design program has prepared me and my peers for anything we might face in the industry.

More information about the graphic design program is available here: