USF Graphic Arts Graduates Exhibit Online Thesis Projects

Thursday, May 07, 2020

illustration of a cell phone and instagram page representing the social media campaign created by Alicia Boyd

USF graphic arts graduate Alicia Boyd created a social media campaign as part of her thesis project, Pocket Change, which works to demystify financial literacy.

Graduating students in the USFSP graphic arts program were looking forward to a memorable night exhibiting their thesis projects in a physical gallery space.

Although the exhibition isn't happening as originally planned, the sixteen graphic arts graduates have successfully adapted their projects to an online-only format to share their hard work with the world while ensuring the safety of audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They are award-winning, elegant, empathetic, extremely talented, and very kind,” said Erika Greenberg-Schneider, USF associate professor of graphic design, of the 2020 graduating graphic arts class. She served as an advisor for the students as they worked on their thesis projects.

This year's graduating class comprises the first students in the new BFA program and the first students to specialize in illustration. In July 2020, the graphic arts program of the USF St. Petersburg campus will become part of the USF College of The Arts as a part of university consolidation.

The exhibition, titled For You, is filled with thesis projects as unique as the graduating class. It is hosted on their own website,

package design of bottles of essential oils created by Riley Kirk

Riley Kirk's project exposes hidden truths in the wellness industry. With this rendering, she shows the harmful side effects of essential oils in the text on the sleek and modern package design of essential oil bottles.

Graduating senior Riley Kirk's project Detox centers on the profitable wellness industry and its danger to consumers. One section of her thesis pairs sleek and modern bottles of essential oils with a label that lists their harmful side effects.

“One example of an issue I discussed is the wide range of side effects when using St. John’s Wort essential oil,” said Kirk. “It is widely recommended for treating depression and minor sunburns, but it can actually increase symptoms of mental illness and interfere with birth control and medications used to treat HIV.”

While she felt the challenge of switching to an online-only format, she also found a new opportunity to express her ideas through two animations, which she may not have otherwise have included in a physical exhibition.

Alicia Boyd is another graduating graphic arts senior who graduated this month. Her thesis, titled Pocket Change, centers on financial literacy, a topic she became immersed in during an internship at a financial institution.

“I realized that many people like myself may avoid the subject because it seems hard, so my thesis aims to shift the discussion by making it look approachable,” said Boyd.

By leveraging the allure of bright colors and fun visuals, she targets a novice audience with educational resources that demystify the jargon of finance. Her project includes a website, a budget tracker, and a social media campaign.

Although this class had to adapt their projects to an online format, Greenberg-Schneider says they preserved their professionalism and positive attitude along the way.

To view the thesis projects of the 2020 USF graphic arts graduates, visit

Banner photo (top): sketchpad and pencil designed by USF graphic arts graduate Cristina Trespando.