Cassidy Unra, a second-year Graphic Design student at Durham College, has transitioned from a business major to graphic design, a move she describes as the best decision of her life. “I love life and I love my program,” she said.
Unra’s career aspirations include working at a design firm post-graduation, with a long-term goal of becoming a freelance graphic designer and starting her own business.
She appreciates the creative autonomy in graphic design, noting, “As the designer you pretty much get to pick how you’re designing it and which direction it’s going in,” she says.
Now in her second year, Unra faces the challenge of developing a personal design style, essential for her professional portfolio. She admits to struggling with this aspect, saying, “it’s something I’ve been struggling with and trying to figure out.”
Despite not having a defined personal style, Unra has already made her mark in the industry. She collaborated with WLSN, an emerging rapper from Ajax, on the cover art for his 2023 single, “Break It”. Her ability to translate his thoughts and vision into art left him very satisfied. “So, he was very happy,” she says.
She said that WLSN wanted a style similar to the unique visual themes found on EDM music covers. “That’s the vibe that he wanted… it was like easy for me to make it for him,” she said.
Unra, originally from Vancouver, was also given the opportunity to design portioning lists for a restaurant in Port Moody, BC. Emdee Fish and Chips in Belcarra got a fresh revamp to the instructions that hang on the walls, showing staff how to make certain dishes.
Despite numerous opportunities and requests for her graphic design expertise, Unra has to balance her professional endeavours with her intensive academic commitments. She says that she wants to take up the opportunities but “my program is way too intense.”
However, she fully engages in graphic design work during the summer, an experience she says that has reinforced her desire to pursue entrepreneurship.
Aislinn Pedersen, Unra’s close friend for two years and roommate for one, praises Unra’s work as exceptional. Pedersen describes Unra’s work ethic as both highly motivated and focused.
“When she has an assignment, she pours everything she has into it. I love looking at her finished pieces because you can really tell she cares about every detail,” she says.
Graphic design, as Unra explains, goes beyond creating advertisements, logos, and promotional art. “Anywhere you look, a graphic designer has touched everything, or a design firm has touched everything,” she says. She points out that graphic design is integral to everyday visuals, from Durham College’s display cases to business signs and advertisements.
Unra highlights the often-overlooked yet significant influence of arts and culture in everyday life, particularly through the work of graphic designers in branding. She said, “They do literally everything, it’s just not really thought of and behind the scenes.”
In Unra’s view, while traditional art forms like paintings and music are widely celebrated, the contributions of graphic designers to our daily visual experiences often go unnoticed. She said, “I think arts and culture are appreciated more than a regular graphic designer who makes the things you see every day.”