Much More Than Design Itself: Emerging Senior Thesis by Karo Buttler

Karo Buttler’s senior thesis project offers an enormous amount of detail on design, manufacturability, materials and sustainability. Her insights were hard-won, and speak not only to her curiosity and versatility, but also to the special learning opportunities offered by FIT – opportunities that expand arguments way beyond simple, facile explanations.

Karo Buttler in her up-cycled sweater with burned edges and the double-knee carpenter pants

Buttler describes her project, “everest,” as “an exploration focusing on unisex garments and balancing active-outerwear functionality with streetstyle elements.” She presented her work in Prof. Jerry Dellova’s Incubator class (FD462) in mid-December.

Detail shots of the burned edge on the sweater, the belt loop details and monochrome top-stitching

The collection is based on upcycling – turning donated and discarded old clothes into new ones. But there’s more sophistication than meets the casual glance. Her professional experiences meld the performance apparel sector and materials science.

Upcycled tote bag (made from corduroy pants), a pocket detail and belt loop detail for overall utility

How did it happen?  In early 2020, when Covid first hit NYC, Buttler quarantined in Colorado with her best friend’s family. “We went hiking every day. That solitude I found in nature and movement are seen in the outerwear aspects in the garments.”

Buttler is 5’ 10” and finds it difficult to buy pants that aren’t too short but fit tight enough on her waist so getting the silhouette right was her biggest goal, she said. “Whenever I design, I try to solve a problem; in this case by adjusting the fit of carpenter pants for the female body.”

Carpenter pants with double-knee detail

All of this was based on a firm intellectual foundation. Just before leaving for Colorado, Buttler participated in a masterclass sponsored by Pensole with industry partners New Balance and Foot Locker, and was exposed to sustainability from a corporate standpoint.

“Karo understands how to take repurposed, reused, recycled to a different level. Many do this on a very small mom-and-pop level but with her experience at New Balance, Google and MIT she ‘gets’ the branding relevance, and ‘gets’ how to use technology and science, which makes sustainability more of a global practice then a local practice.” – Prof. Jerry Dellova

“Through daily presentations, meetings, and the guidance of New Balance designers and mentors like D’wayne Edwards [Founder of Pensole], I added to my communication skills and realized the importance of collaboration within a department,” she said. “Ever since, I’ve been interested in approaching waste and recycling from an economic angle. Moving toward a circular economy is crucial for the fashion industry.”

Sketch for the final design to New Balance and Foot Locker: a highly-functional, layered windbreaker and track pants with thermoregulatory properties

Back in New York last September, Buttler had an opportunity to talk to Maria McClay, Director Fashion and Beauty at Google Cloud, about the importance of technology in the fashion industry and how companies like Stella McCartney are investing in ways to make the supply chain more transparent.

That conversation was captured (below) in a video created to showcase Google Cloud’s new technology that will help fashion brands, fashion designers and design students.

That conversation reinforced Buttler’s view of the growing interest of industries (not just companies) collaborating with each other and the need for knowledge about materials within the fashion industry.

“It underlined for me the need for conversation between different industries, to have people communicate about the issue not only within the design realm but across industries,” Buttler said.

Upcycled windbreaker following the aesthetics of the product created in the MIT x FIT workshop with team

In January 2021, Buttler participated in the MIT x FIT workshop with New Balance and Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, (AFFOA) that she said, “transformed my thinking about the intersection between engineering and design. Creating mono-material garments for easier recycling processes was one point my team and I focused on.”

“Working with Karo is proof that science and design are great partners. Her team communicated the merger of innovative textiles and well-researched design to establish a scalable marketable presentation in a real-world scenario.” – Faculty mentor and Fashion Design professor Amy Sperber

This led to an internship with the MIT start-up Neramco in Fall 2021, working with polyethylene, a synthetic polymer that has great sustainability benefits. Working among engineers, Buttler gained insight in their way of approaching a problem.

“Most people think organic and natural fabrics are our only way out of this mess. But those options are often costly and often use enormous amounts of water. Active clothing requires specific properties – so working on the recycling and up-cycling of already existing polyester is going to be important.”

“Upcycling is a very intuitive process, as the design becomes clear only after you know what fabric you have to work with” she said.

“I like using ‘what’s already out there,’ and giving it a new life. Even though upcycling is difficult to achieve on a large-scale level for big companies, it might inspire give-back programs and recycling initiatives. It will be an exciting few months working on ‘everest.'”

Visit Karo Buttler’s website: and follow her on IG @karobttlr.

To learn about the Fashion Design program go to: Fashion Design at FIT.

All images provided by Karo Buttler.

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FIT Senior Sarai Maman Wins Competition, Shoots for the Moon

Landing on the moon requires more than technical skill. You also need cooperation, perseverance, creativity and the ability to dream, says Sarai Maman, ’22, a winner of the 27th annual Planning and Visual Education Partnership (PAVE) Award.  Her work is “a perfect showing of what students in the Spatial Experience Design program can do combining narrative, graphics, place and spacemaking,” said Craig Berger, Chair, Communication Design Pathways.

Sarai Maman’s PAVE award competition submission

The PAVE “Meet the Street” award competition, sponsored this year by CallisonRTKL, attracted students from 40 colleges in 14 countries and involved concepts in retail planning, interior design, architecture, visual merchandising, branding, and similar disciplines.

The competition challenged students to design a small-scale project that could be incorporated into any community to address a problem using aspects of retail, scalability, materiality, technology, accessibility, and sustainability in their concepts.

Sarai Maman, a PAVE “Meet the Street” Award winner. Photo by: Diana Nyland

Maman’s winning project envisioned six separate, small mazes arranged in a circle around a model of a real moon landing craft, launched by SpaceIL an Israel-based company, the first private non-profit non-governmental organization to get to the moon. In this playground design, six participants, one per maze, each needs to have a specific skill — mechanic, engineer, astronaut and so forth — to get through his or her maze. The mechanic for instance, gets through by unlocking a tool box and using the tools from the box to open the door that leads to the central area where the moon lander model is.

The SpaceIL Labyrinth can be moved easily and assembled on any small, flat park or playground

Once they are all through, each participant grabs a rope connected to the spacecraft model. They have to coordinate their efforts on the ropes to land the spacecraft successfully on the moon.

Maze walls are 4 feet high–short enough for adults to keep watch over the participants.

The real SpaceIL craft achieved lunar orbit in 2019, but the landing attempt failed. “Despite the disappointment,” Maman said, “SpaceIL did something incredible. It brought people together and got the Israeli public, especially children, excited about space exploration. It also taught us that failure is just another step in the journey to success.” SpaceIL is working on its next moon attempt.

Here’s a walk-through inside the model:

Her “SpaceIL Labyrinth” doesn’t take up a lot of room on a playground. It can be moved easily and assembled on any small, flat park or playground. It doesn’t require a huge amount of supervision. It uses inexpensive, durable materials like plywood and Tyvek (Maman provided a materials and supplier list in her entry).

Inherent in the design is that not everyone has to be a superstar, even when reaching for the moon. There are jobs and needs for every kind of talent.

Space specialist patches designs

“I have always been intrigued and curious about outer space and its mysteries, but unfortunately, I utterly failed the school’s physics exams,” she said. “And yet, as a designer, I found myself researching and designing this.”

Challenges inside the astronaut’s maze
Challenges inside the astronaut’s maze

“My project presents children with both an individual journey and a collaborative task. It simulates real life because some challenges have to be faced alone, while at other times we need to rely on each other,” she said.

Maman speaks five languages: “My native language is Hebrew. I acquired English in school. Italian, Turkish and Spanish, I learned by watching foreign television and movies.”

“Learning a foreign language also means learning the culture of the people who speak it, their traditions, history, and context,” she said. “Every project targets a different audience. My job is to tailor the best design solution for that audience. It wouldn’t be possible without studying and researching those audiences.

The final task–a collaborative effort to land the spacecraft on the Moon

“The VPED program is a collaborative and constructive environment. Students habitually share knowledge with one another, and I feel comfortable asking my peers questions, speaking, and exchanging criticism. It is an essential part of my learning process, and I am grateful for my friends and professors who grant it.”

Maman also credits VPED with sharpening her critical thinking skills. “I’ve learned to analyze and evaluate situations, products, brands…to break down all the bits and pieces that compose those factors and determine the problems that I need to address in my design.”

She also credits the programs with the skill of “future telling,” or “learning to recognize emerging trends, to adapt, and to initiate, because as designers we need to constantly be ahead of the game.”

Sarai Maman in a VPED classroom. Photo by: Diana Nyland

Maman added, “Space exploration is critical to humankind because it helps us understand and solve issues on Earth. Now as we face catastrophes from global pandemic to global warming, we  need to ensure the future of our home planet. SpaceIL’s educational vision is ‘to encourage the next generation to choose to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics’ (STEM). My project is designed to take this conversation outside the classroom to a physical space where children can enjoy the learning process.”

Is there any chance of turning this project into a reality? “I would be very pleased and proud if it would. I have contacted SpaceIL to share my work with them, and I hope they will get back to me soon.

From Maman’s early hand sketches of the SapceIL Labyrinth model
More of Maman’s hand sketches

“New York City is the leading design hub in the world, and I was looking to learn from the best. As a young Israeli girl, I thought I could only dream of working side by side with designers like Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Nina Garcia, who are FIT alumni. I would hear the name of FIT in movies, but it looked like a distant star. As I grew up, I began to realize that the world isn’t as big as it seems. When I finally gathered my courage and moved from Israel to America, I had no intention to compromise.”

SpaceIL Mission Accomplished

Said Maman, “I learned at FIT to dream big. I engage my biggest fantasies in my school projects and choose the topics of my projects following these fantasies. While many of our projects are conceptual, I hope to see these fantasies come to life after graduation.”

To see more of Sarai Maman’s work go to her design porfolio. Follow her on Instagram @saray.maman.

To learn more about the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design program go to: VPED at FIT.

Photos of Sarai Maman taken by Diana Nyman, ’22.

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Adirondack Mac is New York State’s latest celebrity

New York State has a lovable new mascot moose, Adirondack Mac, designed by Illustration sophomore Kristina Ingerowski. Her plush, blue-scarfed entry bested nearly 150 other competitors from 35 New York State counties in a contest established last March to design a mascot for the World University Games scheduled for winter 2023 in Lake Placid.

Adirondack Mac, designed by Kristina Ingerowski. (New York State Governor’s office)

“Adirondack Mac is special to me,” Ingerowshi said, “because I have spent a lot of time over the years with my grandparents and family who live in Lake Placid. I wanted to capture the majestic beauty and character of the Adirondack region. There’s nothing more charming than an Adirondack moose to represent and celebrate this spirit of friendly athletic competition in Lake Placid.”

Her mom actually brought the competition to her attention. “It had popped up on her Facebook page and she knew I needed to do it! It stood out to her, as she grew up in Lake Placid.”

Adirondack Mac designer Kristina Ingerowski. Photo by Diana Nyman

More than 2,500 athletes from more than 50 countries are scheduled to compete there in 86 medal events including hockey, figure skating, curling, skiing, and snowboarding. The games are the world’s largest international winter sports event for student-athletes.

“…I want to congratulate Kristina Ingerowski on her winning design,” Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement last week.

Adirondack Mac already has a packed itinerary. He’s making public appearances in upstate New York to promote the region and the games. He’s expected to roam among restaurants (no nibbling), shops and events in the vast six million acre Adirondack Park region, the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States. It’s larger than Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks combined.

Adirondack Mac

At Lake Placid, Mac will be featured on T-shirts, caps, toys, and anything else that can be retailed.

The mascot competition was open to all New York State residents and anyone attending college here. Ingerowski is a native of Farmington in Ontario County just east of Rochester and a three-hour drive from Lake Placid itself.

To win, Ingerowski and her moose had to excel in a public vote and then withstand scrutiny from mascot experts. Aside from the fame, there was a cash prize of $5,000.

“The mascot design competition was a unique way to showcase the talent and creativity of New Yorkers, and I want to congratulate Kristina Ingerowski on her winning design,” Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement last week.

Hochul’s office said the moose “represents the best of what New Yorkers and the participating athletes have in common: strength, courage and determination.”

Kristina Ingerowski with Adirondack Mac on the ice at the Schenectady Curling Club (Provided photo — Lake Placid 2023

Ingerowski said her creative process “entailed lots of sketches, trial and error, and Panera green tea.” She had never designed a mascot or anything close to it, she said.

“This was a new experience for me outside of my normal style and content. I added a bit of myself to it however, with my technique in rendering using my favorite medium, colored pencils,” she said.

“Originally, I was thinking about a moose, raccoon, or snowy owl. All are animals that are iconic in the Adirondack region. I started with designs for the snowy owl, then the raccoon, but they just weren’t doing it. The moose clicked for me. The moose is such an ideal character for the games, as its strength is unmatched.“

Adirondack Mac, designed by Kristina Ingerowski. Photo: New York State Governor’s office

Ingerowski credits skills obtained from her FIT classes, specifically Illustration Process taught by Dave Devries, Illustration Process II taught by Leslie Cober-Gentry, and Painting Process I: Color Theory and Applications taught by Tony Capparelli.

She also pulled inspiration from the art classes she took at Victor Senior High School in Victor NY, taught by David Denner and Andy Reddout, she said.

Ingerowski said she was not prepared for the amount of attention she and Adirondack Mac received, although she was “extremely thrilled and grateful. I knew there were plans to get the governor involved with the announcement, but I never imagined so many people would pick up the story.”

Kristina Ingerowski outside the Illustraiton and Interactive Media classrooms. Photo by Diana Nyman

She also doesn’t see mascot design as the exclusive focus of her career plans. “I am passionate about illustration, but I am hoping to pursue another degree in Cosmetic and Fragrance Marketing at FIT. I love the illustration aspect of portraiture and makeup, so I am hoping to use both of these skills in my future endeavors.”

But is Stitch, FIT’s mascot, going to be jealous? “I’m not sure,” Ingerowski said. “We would have to have them meet for a little friendly competition.”

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Kurta Collaboration Exhibit: FIT and India’s Pearl Academy

Photo by Diana Nyman. Prof. Susanne Goetz, curator of the kurta exhibit

The current “Style Journey” exhibition in the Art and Design Gallery has an extensive section on contemporary kurtas, hand-embroidered and collaboratively designed by FIT Textile/Surface Design students and by Fashion Design students from Pearl Academy in India.

We asked Textile Surface Design Professor Susanne Goetz, who curated the kurta section, for details on how it came about and on what students gain from working across 10 time zones.

Photo by Diana Nyman of the kurta exhibit (designs by Jihyun Lim and Lianne Covington)

First, the basics. What makes a kurta a kurta?

Prof. Goetz: A kurta is a comfortable upper garment worn by men and women in India, with variations in length (shirt-length or longer) and by region. Traditionally it is worn with different types of pants by both women and men, or with a skirt by women.

Photo by Diana Nyman of the kurta exhibit

What distinguishes the kurtas on exhibit as “contemporary?”

Prof. Goetz: The core of the project was to create a garment that would appeal to consumers of all ages in both India and the US, bridging both traditional elements and more modern and international approaches to pattern, cut, and styling.

Photo by Diana Nyman. Prof. Susanne Goetz, curator of the kurta exhibit (design by Danielle Douglas, Rikita Bhutani, Neha Jain, Sanya Dahr)
Photo by Diana Nyman of the Kurta Exhibit (Design by Thomas McLaughlin, Priya Gautam, Urvashi Bharti, Chandra Tiwari)

What is your own experience with studying or wearing kurtas?

Prof. Goetz: I admire the skillfulness with which many kurtas are embellished, and the wide variety of styles they come in. I love wearing them. They’re very comfortable and can look really stylish.

Photo by Diana Nyman. Prof. Susanne Goetz, curator of the kurta exhbit (Design by Madeline McCarthy, Rahel D. Peter, Riya Bhatia, Vidhi Daswani)

Kurtas allow women a lot of freedom for everyday and formal wear. What are the different ways they can be worn, such as part of Punjabi suits or over jeans?

Prof. Goetz: Because kurtas come in many different styles and lengths there is really no limit to how they can be worn. Shorter styles can be worn just like a shirt or blouse, longer styles like dresses.

Photo by Diana Nyman. Detail from the Kurta Exhibit (Design by Stephanie Stickle, Anushree Jalan, Prerna Modi)

Was this a class project? If so, how long did students have to work on it?

Prof. Goetz: Yes, students from both colleges worked on this project as part of their classes. Integrated into TD 313 Advanced Photoshop and Illustrator, for instance, students were able to connect their digital design skills with traditional hand embroidery skills.

Photo by Diana Nyman. Detail from the kurta exhibit (Design by Seo Hye Lee, Urshia Fatima, Rashika Mittal, Simran Verma)
Photo by Diana Nyman. Detail from the kurta exhibit (Design by Seo Hye Lee, Urshia Fatima, Rashika Mittal, Simran Verma)

How did students put their projects into motion?

Prof. Goetz: Starting in September 2018, FIT students created digital mood boards inspired by World’s Global Style Network (WGSN) trend forecasts for Spring/Summer 2020 on the theme of ‘Designing Emotions.’ They consulted WGSN trend forecasting books available at the FIT library. They did additional research to help narrow the focus of their theme, and created visually stimulating and concise digital storyboards. Working in design teams, FIT and Pearl Academy students discussed the story boards, current style trends in both India and NYC, and their personal style preferences.

Photo by Diana Nyman. Susanne Goetz, curator of the kurta exhibit

Did students weave their own fabric?

Prof. Goetz: Fabrics were sourced by the Pearl Academy students, who also designed the garments. Some teams dyed or digitally printed fabrics, and some worked with handwoven artisan fabrics.

Photo by Diana Nyman of the Kurta Exhibit (Design by Alexandra Krynyckyi and Riya Tulsyan)

How did the partnership with Pearl Academy come about?

Prof. Goetz: Since 2016 I have led a short-term study abroad program to India each January. We travel mainly in Rajasthan and work with local artisans to learn about their design and production process and the artisan industry. Pearl Academy has campuses in Jaipur, Delhi and elsewhere, and is also well established in distance learning.

Photo by Diana Nyman. Detail from the Kurta exhibit (Design by Stephanie Stickle, Anushree Jalan, Prerna Modi)

Prof. Goetz cont. In a meeting with Pearl Academy faculty, the idea of a collaborative project was born. We wanted our students to explore design in a cross-cultural and inclusive way, while working within a real-world production scenario. Requiring students to think outside the ‘comfort zone’ of their own major, we created a cultural and skill exchange that encourages innovative design thinking. We wanted students to assess trend preferences as a reflection of identity and their cultural background, and approach fashion with a global perspective.

Photo by Diana Nyman, detail from the Kurta Exhibit (Design by Isabelle Abbracciamento and Manogya Arora)
Photo by Diana Nyman, detail from the Kurta Exhibit (Design by Isabelle Abbracciamento and Manogya Arora)

What knowledge and experience did students share with fellow students in India?

Prof. Goetz:. As one of their most important experiences, students listed learning about different fashion styles, trends and markets from their peers. Because of the pandemic, we now know how to collaborate virtually, but video conferencing and exchanging ideas in writing was a new experience for our students in 2018. Everyone appreciated gaining real-life work experience with an international team across a 10-hour time difference.

Photo by Diana Nyman, Prof. Susanne Goetz, curator of the kurta exhibit
Photo by Diana Nyman, Prof. Susanne Goetz, curator of the kurta exhibit (Design by Klana King and Disha Ramrakhiani)

cont. Prof. Goetz: Students based in the US would normally find it difficult to get their designs hand embroidered by artisans without having a liaison there and without knowledge of the production process in India.

Photo by Diana Nyman. Detail from the Kurta exhibit (Design by Lianne Covington and Shubham Bohra)
Photo by Diana Nyman (Design by Jeanne Schrem and Ami Shah)

What other parts of the FIT curriculum does this cover?

Prof. Goetz: Aside from creating portfolio work and gaining life experience, the project integrated aspects of sustainability: Integrating traditional hand embroidery with computer-aided design and online collaboration offers a wider platform for incorporating artisan textile techniques in contemporary textiles. Protecting the livelihood of traditional craft communities is an important aspect of sustainability in our industry. From an environmental viewpoint, it’s beneficial to be able to work collaboratively without having to travel across the globe.

Photo by Diana Nyman of Prof. Susanne Goetz, curator of the kurta exhibit

The free exhibition runs until November 22 at the Art and Design Gallery, 27 St. and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. For more information go to: Style Journey Exhibtion.

To learn more about the Textile Surface Design AAS and BFA programs visit: Textile Surface Design at FIT.

Photos by Diana Nyman, Photography ’22. Follow her on IG:

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Brigid Coleman’s Halloween-Themed Art: Mundane, Funny, Ominous…

Brigid Coleman’s love of vintage scary movies can be seen in her Halloween-themed art: sketchy characters doing seemingly mundane things. A playful, ominous macabre runs through her work here. It’s a mix of commissioned work, Halloween musings, and one drawn from her experience working as an undergrad in a fast food joint. The recent Illustration grad works as freelance illustrator and art instructor at Ashcan Studio.

By Brigid Coleman, “The Invisible Man”

“I love old scary movies,” says Coleman, “so when coming up with these small Halloween illustrations, I knew right away I wanted to incorporate ‘The Invisible Man.’ I wanted to show him in a more modern setting to contrast against the original 1933 film.”

By Brigid Coleman, “No I’m Killing Boys”

“’Jennifer’s Body,’ the 2009 horror-comedy, was the first horror movie I ever saw in a movie theater. I wanted to do an illustration that conveys how nonchalant and ruthless Jennifer is!” says Coleman.

By Brigid Coleman, “The Pumpkin King”

“‘The Pumpkin King’ is inspired by the classic story of Jack,” says Coleman. “I drew him as a teenager growing after 2000. It’s why I included Y2K fashion choices such as the blue flame shirt and baggy shorts.”

By Brigid Coleman, “K8 Buffering”

“This was an album cover commission I did for Indie musician “K8.” She told me that she just wanted something with paper airplanes. When listening to her album I was reminded of high school, which is why portrayed the singer in space sitting at a school desk throwing airplanes while they wrapped around her,” says Coleman.

By Brigid Coleman, “Ghosts in the City”

“This was a project for Prof. Hyesu Lee’s class,” says Coleman. “I made the illustration toward the end of 2020 when I was working nights at a fast food job. Everyone who came in seemed to look distraught, only to show some sense of joy when they received their food! I liked to think that coming together for cheap food made things feel normal again. I felt good to be a part of that normalcy, even if it was just by serving cheap food.”

It paid off artistically. “My experience as an Illustration major was amazing,” says Coleman. “I met some of my closest friends at FIT. My favorite professors were Hyesu Lee and Janis Salek. They encouraged us to think conceptually when developing illustrations.”

To see more of Brigid Coleman’s work follow her on Instagram: @colemanbrigidart.


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Three from FIT at this year’s Eddie Adams Workshop

The Eddie Adams Workshop, now in its 34th year, is considered “one of the most important stops for up-and-coming photojournalists,” according to New York Times photographer and writer James Estrin. This year two FIT Photography students, and one Photography Certificate program graduate, were chosen to attend.

The late Eddie Adams was a highly awarded photojournalist, renowned for his coverage of the Vietnam War. He was dedicated to mentorship and teaching through large-scale collaboration and set out to do just that with a cadre of fellow professionals.


The intensive, merit-based, free workshop, has an impressive itinerary: Ten teams, each consisting of 10 students, are each led by a team leader, editor, producer, and IT person. “Team leadership works in September with students on assignments,” according to Mirjam Evers, Executive Director. “The work from the assigned topic — this year the theme was ‘transformation’ — is critiqued over three days in October by seasoned experts,” The workshop, headquartered at a former dairy farm in Jeffersonville, New York, was virtual this year.

Photo: Laila Stevens, “Heart and Soul.” Meagan Owen, boxer from the Bronx sparring session spars with women from the US Marines Boxing Team

In October, when the assignments are completed, the three-day intensive is scheduled with photography presentations; portfolio reviews of individual student work as well as the team’s work; and social networking sessions. The weekend ends with team presentations and an award show.

“The workshop is crazy because it pushes you into this intense encounter with utterly relevant challenges, but it also gives you the highest quality guides to help you navigate your way through the experience,” says esteemed Photography alum Trupal Pandya, ’16, a workshop presenter this year.

Pandya who attended the workshop as an undergrad says “It nurtures young photography professionals in a way that instills impeccably high standards, and if they really give themselves up to the process they come away with a particular kind of confidence that’s necessary in order to go out into the world and create.”

Photo: Lana Apisukh. “From Feral to Family.” TNR Specialist in her garage with a homeless cat she has rescued.We talked to the three FIT attendees about their experiences. They each shared  completed work from their projects, as well as from their entry porfolios, which merited them a place in the workshop.

William Pippin (’23)


“I’m from Rochester, NY. Kodak City. Big surprise I’m a photographer! says William Pippin. “I’m most interested in documentary photos. The Eddie Adams Workshop was a very valuable experience. There are few opportunities where a group of photo editors take time to look at your work and give constructive feedback. I feel fortunate to have been accepted and for the people that I met. For the workshop I shot my homie Ryan and his little brother Paul, two BMX riders for my project “Breaking Away.”

Photo: William Pippin, from “Breaking Away” (Ryan Razon and his brother Paul)
Photo: William Pippin, from “Breaking Away” (Ryan Razon and his brother Paul)

One of the photos Pippin submitted for acceptance to the workshop, was from his project “Andy,” about his girlfriend. “We started going out before Covid and then  just as we were official, Covid hit. She moved to Puerto Rico and I moved upstate. The project is about making up for lost time,” says Pippin.

Photo: William Pippin, from “Andy,”

“I never took a photo of her before Covid, so going through a year of not seeing each other, it’s just us reconnecting” says Pippin. “This photo is one that’s really important to me. The name of the photo is from the project ‘Andy,’ as if I’m writing a letter to her.”

Laila Stevens ‘23:

“I heard about the workshop from a classmate who had taken it. We bonded, initially over our similar visions, aligned with a lens. My vision is focused on culture, family and gender. Much of my work revolves around sisterhood, particularly in New York.

Photo: Laila Stevens, “Heart and Soul.” Meagan Owen, boxer from the Bronx who earned her biggest victory at the Ringside World Championship Tournament in MO.
Photo: Laila Stevens, from “Heart and Soul.” Boxer MEAGAN OWEN getting her hands wrapped by Coach Carl Wilson.
Photo: Laila Stevens, from “Heart and Soul” series

“I have this determination to make  sure my project is deeply focused andgetting to the nitty gritty. I think that’s something Eddie Adams did — to not be scared away from people he chose to focus on. He was into the moment and not afraid to enter the space. I have that sense of determination,” said Stevens.

Photo: Laila Stevens. Boxer Meagan Owen trains at Green Fitness Studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY.

“The workshop was a valuable and timely experience. I received constructive criticism on my work in the moment, which ultimately steered me in the right direction while photographing.

Photo: Laila Stevens (from her submission portfolio to Eddie Adams Workshop). “Much of my work revolves around sisterhood,” says Stevens.
Photo: Laila Stevens (from her submission portfolio to Eddie Adams Workshop) Alliyah and Amanda at Alley Pond Park, Queens, NY

“I was fortunate to have documented Meagan Owen’s sparring session with the women of the US Marine Boxing Team. One lesson  I leave with:The importance of spending as much time as possible with your subject. For me, this meant traveling with a female boxer from The Bronx. I’m thankful to have learned from professionals who are as passionate about storytelling as I am.”

Lanna Apisukh, ’20

Photo: Lanna Apisukh. “Everybody Skate” project
Photo: Lanna Apisukh. “Everybody Skate” project

“As a portrait and documentary photographer, says Lanna Apisukh, I felt the workshop was an amazing opportunity to learn more about photojournalism and gain insight into how to approach stories from a creative and technical perspective. The workshop is also a great way to get connected with photo editors and other photographers.”

Photo: Lanna Apisukh, “From Feral to Family.” TNR Specialist Dana Heis organizes her cat rescue delivery with the ASPCA for spay/neuter procedure.

Apisuckh had submitted work from her “ongoing passion project, ‘Everybody Skate’” for acceptance to the workshop. “It highlights women and non-binary skateboarders in New York City. Work from this project was featured in a New York Times article “The New Skaters,”

Photo: Lanna Apisukh. Dana Heis has been caring for feral and homeless cats for the past 18 months. She is now TNR certified.

Apisukh did a series for the workshop on a Trap, Neuter, Rescue (TNR) specialist from Brooklyn, who shelters and feeds homeless cats and works to get them spayed or neutered.

Photo: Lanna Apisukh. Dana Heis is TNR certified. She lives with four cats and fosters many others.

“My time with the Eddie Adams Workshop has been invaluable and inspiring. I’ve made connections with many photographers from around the world and industry veterans.”

Photo: Lanna Apisukh. Dana taking a quick break at home after a long morning of appointments at ASPCA

She says “It was neat to hear our photo editor Sarah Leen talk through her edit [of our work] and the sequencing process, which will help us become better storytellers. Leen was the first female director of photography at National Geographic. It was an honor to have her provide feedback of my work.”

To see video presentations of each team’s work with an interview with Alyssa Adams, co-founder of the Eddie Adams Workshop talking about the history of the workshop: Eddie Adams Presentations. 

To see more of William Pippin’s work, check out his website at:, and on IG: @will_pippin; For Laila Stevens go to: and on IG: @lailaannmarie; For Lanna Apisukh go to: and on IG: @apisukh and for Trupal Pandya go to: and on IG: @TrupalPandya.

To learn more about the Photography and Related Media program go to: Photography at FIT.


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Cowleidoscope Joins the Cow Parade!

This summer Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design students created “Cowleidoscope,” a giant, dreamy blue and pink cow with magnificent iridescent wings. It’s part of the NYC CowParade, which this year benefits God’s Love We Deliver, a New York City-based charity that prepares and delivers meals for people living with severe illnesses.

“It gave students an opportunity to work on a public exhibition that benefits the local community,” says Prof. Anne Kong who oversaw the project. “They worked as a team to take the design from a sketch to a large-scale production, working with vendors, and experiment with a range of materials. This is the VPED experience!”

Cowleidoscope almost ready to go out to pasture

Have a cow? Is it possible? Yes, Cowleidoscope is being auctioned along with other cows. Bidding is open at Heritage Auctions through October 7. Since 1999, over $30 million has been raised for worldwide charitable organizations from auctioning the cows.

The VPED seniors involved in the project — Diana RicoGordon Qu, and Fean Manthachitra — worked in the VPED labs and David Stark studios in Industry City throughout the summer.

Senior VPED students beginning work on Cowleidoscope

“It was a great learning experience, working alongside such renowned organizations. It heightened my interest in pursuing design production as a career,” says Gordon Qu.

“It was a most memorable project. I worked on such a large scale project with an incredible team, both from within FIT and outside FIT,” says Fean Manthachitra.

“It was an opportunity to work with students and faculty in-person when remote working was still prevalent,” says Diana Rico. “It was inspiring working on all phases of the fabrication.”

Wing prototype for Cowleidoscope,

It’s in no small part to the work of the VPED production team that Cowleidoscope is among the fashionable and artistic elite. This year’s herd of 78 cows, according to Jerome Elbaum, founder of CowParade, “is the best we have ever produced,” he told the The New York Times.

Since late August, Cowleidoscope has been grazing at Industry City, a creative hub in Brooklyn. It’s one of eight “pastures” to host the cows this year.

Naturally, a fiberglass, 150-pound-plus cow requires a lot of resources for its adornment. MS Sign Inc. helped with execution of the wings. Big Apple Visual Group donated the floor graphics.

To learn more about the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design program go to VPED at FIT.


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About Love: Tiffany, Beyonce, Jay-Z, a Yellow Diamond and FIT Alums

As any good campaign should, Tiffany & Co’s attempt to appeal to younger potential customers with its “About Love” campaign lit up both the fashion press and mainstream media last month. Beyoncé is the first Black woman to wear the hypnotically yellow Tiffany Diamond in public since its 1878 acquisition by the jeweler. The campaign is still going strong.

Jay-Z and Beyoncé in Tiffany & Co. ad campaign “About Love.” Credit: Mason Poole/Tiffany & Co.

“The Tiffany Diamond is iconic,” says Jewelry Design Professor Wendy Yothers, who has worked as a Tiffany’s craftsman. “It is a rare, beautiful gem formed by the miraculous power of natural phenomena.”

The Tiffany diamond worn by Beyoncé in the “About Love” campaign

The About Love campaign now includes a scholarship program with a $2 million pledge from Tiffany’s for students at historically Black colleges and universities. This week the campaign released a romantic home-style video of Beyoncé wearing the Tiffany Diamond while singing “Moon River.”

FIT alums, from Fashion Design, Fabric Styling, Illustration and other majors have benefited from other riches, artistically that is, from Beyoncé’s fashion choices and vision.

Beyoncé’s debut of “Black Is King,” the feature-length visual album, includes a stunning wardrobe of over 70 designs. It was “a fashion fever-dream of jaw-dropping looks by mostly Black designers,” as FIT Newsroom described.

Jerome LaMaar, Fabric Styling ’07, created a look that was inspired by matriarchs at Nigerian weddings. He hand-beaded a Nigerian lace trench-jumper with gloves, covered with turquoise, jade, hematite, mother-of-pearl, silver, and Swarovski crystals.

Jerome LaMaar’s hand-beaded Nigerian lace trench-jumper. Courtesy of Beyoncé and Disney+

LaMaar has created designs for Queen Bey since 2014, including outfits for her appearance at the Billboard awards, a Coachella party, and her 35th birthday. It hasn’t changed the magnitude of working with her.

“I mean, it’s still Beyoncé. I’m honored that her team still thinks I’m worthy,” LaMaar told GQ Magazine.

Lorraine West, Illustration ’18, designed her now well-known “Abstract Palette Earrings” for Beyoncé, which the singer wore to perform the song “Water. As described on the designer’s website, the earrings are “a tribute to all people that are painting a new world through their positive cause in life.”

Lorraine West’s Abstract Palette Earrings worn by Beyonce for “Black Is King”

Venny Etienne, who attended FIT for Fashion Merchandising, created a broad-shouldered floral jacket with an “amped up” silhouette for the “Black Is King” film.

The experience, he told Texas Monthly, represents how one person could uplift whole community…Where we have the ability to portray an image of excellence, an image of Black culture.” 

Beyonce wears L’Enchanteur’s GodHead earrings in “Already” from Black Is King.

Other FIT alums who have designed for Beyoncé include: Mirabai Howard-Geogan, Fashion Design ’09, a design consultant for Mia Vesper, who created looks to compliment an Egyptian-inspired scene. Dynasty and Soull Ogun, FIT’s Design Entrepreneurs NYC program’19, of L’Enchanteur, submitted accessories for Beyoncé’s “Spirit” song, (above), from which followed by more commissions.

We spotted the work of four of these alums in the video for the song “Already.”

The Tiffany Diamond campaign has raised concerns, mainly on social media, as to whether the diamond was mined by colonized or slave labor, (referred to as a “blood” or “conflict” diamond). Others have said that the goal of tracking such diamonds is intended to keep money out of the hands of those who exploit and harm others in modern times. The Tiffany Diamond was found 150 years ago.

And what about those poses in front of the late Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, “Equals Pi?”  Is the painting’s teal blue background the same as Tiffany’s trademarked blue boxes? No, it turns out, at least not according to the person who mixed paint for Basquiat.

Jay-Z looking at a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting “Equals Pi”

As for the real worth of the diamond? For now, it’s reflected in the wearer. “The Tiffany Diamond is an iconic symbol of miraculous natural beauty. Beyoncé is miraculous, but adds genius, art and work beyond imagining to be the even rarer gem,” says Prof. Yothers.

To read more about FIT alums who have worked with Beyoncé go to: Beyoncé Wore Many Alumni Designs in Black Is King.

Prof. Wendy Yothers co-edited the forthcoming book “Digital Meets Handmade,” which addresses how digital technologies and handcraft can coalesce as wearable art. She is an artisan in the Society of American Silversmiths.


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Drawing Heroes Tall

Never has Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared taller than in Prof. Johanna Goodman’s view of him. The elongation – a common theme in Goodman’s illustrations – is particularly fitting. It would have been impossible to consider on-campus classes this fall without the mRNA vaccine technology (pioneered by Dr. Katalin Karikó) that Dr. Fauci championed starting 20 years ago.

“My Hero • Dr. Anthony Fauci” Johanna Goodman

Dr. Fauci (who, in real life, is 5 feet, 8 inches tall) did that at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He also pioneered the research that turned AIDS from death sentence to a chronic, controllable disease.

The  image appeared on a full-page of Public Eye magazine‘s first issue, devoted to heroes. It’s a publication created by illustrators David Cowles and Josh Gosfield.

Prof. Goodman says this of her illustration subject: “Physician-scientist and immunologist, advisor to every president since Ronald Reagan, superhero, Dr. Fauci lived through the challenge of serving in the Trump administration’s Coronavirus Task Force. After serving the American public for over 50 years, he’s continuing the fight against coronavirus and hopefully leading us to our salvation.”

Emory University Magazine, by Johanna Goodman

Another Prof. Goodman illustration on a COVID theme (she’s done many) is for the article, “Vaccination Exploration: How Emory got involved in developing and testing vaccines, from working on HIV-AIDS efforts decades ago to participating in phase 3 COVID-19 trials today.” in last winter’s issue of Emory University magazine. The article details how Emory was one of the first sites to enroll participants in the nation’s inaugural COVID vaccine trial in March, 2020.

A personal piece (below) created at the beginning of the pandemic, Plate No. 395, was later published by the Italian style magazine D la Repubblica. “It was before we went into lockdown, when I was feeling very nervous walking the city streets,” says Prof. Goodman.

The work accompanied a story about how the Italian beauty industry was responding to the crisis with new inventions to “let us experience our sexy side even at a distance and with a mask.”

Plate No. 395, by Johanna Goodman. Published in D la Repubblica Magazine, Italy

Another example of her work is one of Salvatore Ferragamo’s latest projects, which explores “Love’s Many Mediums.”

To fill the void left behind by a year without much travel or connection to speak of, Ferragamo used Valentine’s Day, 2021 as an excuse for celebration. Prof. Goodman’s illustration is for a Florentine luxury label release that week, the “Patchwork of Love” project. It was the second chapter in Ferragamo’s latest series of holiday-focused artistic collaborations.

From “Patchwork of Love” project, by Johanna Goodman

Prof. Goodman has garnered awards from The Society of Publication Design, American Illustration, and Communication Arts. Her clients include the NYC public transit system, Museum of Natural History, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Time, Rolling Stone, Le Monde, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The New Yorker, New York magazine, and many others.

Courses Prof. Goodman has taught include: Illustration Process I and Illustration Process II.

To view more of Johanna Goodman’s work, visit her website: and follow her on Twitter: @johannawomann, and IG: @johannagoodman.

To learn more about the School of Art and Design Illustration program go to Illustration at FIT.

Images used with permission.

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PlayStation Therapy “Gets You” says Matthew Lafergola, ‘21

To all the gamers out there who need a good cry, a good laugh, a thrill or even a job or relationship, there’s PlayStation Therapy. Advertising and Digital Design grad Matthew Lafergola, ’21, visualizes how PlayStation characters aren’t just for shooting at, but also for providing cathartic experiences. There’s a vault of PlayStation stories and characters that can help you escape from life’s burdens. You just need to get engaged and help increase traffic to PlayStation’s subscription.

PlayStation Cover Image

“Everyone deals with stress and hardships, and escaping from that is enticing,” says Lafergola about his Senior Thesis Ad Campaign. People can look at the parts of this campaign and see themselves in it,” he says.


For his campaign, Lafergola had to articulate both a problem and solution: The problem is that PlayStation needs to increase traffic to its subscription service, PS Now, which pales by comparison to competitors like Xbox Gamepass.

His solution? “Show gamers that PS Now is the stress relief they need to escape life’s burdens. The service provides an endless number of experiences, stories, and characters that players can resonate with.”

PlayStation poster 1

For advertising students, the senior thesis is a culmination of what they’ve learned throughout their major. The one thing that differs from a professional ad campaign is that students can pick their own topic.

“After four years of assignments and guidelines, I was able to go all-in on a topic I’m passionate about, and direct it from start to finish,” he says.

“I chose a topic near and dear to me,” says Lafergola. I’ve played video games my whole button-mashing life. They brought my brother and whole family closer together,” he says.

PlayStation Poster 2

“Matt’s campaign hits that sweet spot all great work tries to, but rarely finds. First, It solves a real business problem. It does so in a unique way. And it manages to entertain us at the same time. This is how deeper consumer connections are formed,” says Advertising and Digital Design Professor Craig Markus. 

PlayStation Poster 3

“Every puzzle piece of the campaign was essential for getting the full picture” says Lafergola.

If this campaign were a real one, commissioned by a client, this is what it would include:

A written “manifesto” that captures the essence and message of a brand:

Lafergola’s manifesto proclaims there’s a window beyond gaming. There are comforts to be had and courage to be found in the stories and characters that can support you in life’s challenges.

PlayStation Therapy Manifesto

Three poster ads:

Lafergola’s ads feature PlayStation-exclusive characters that are dealing with daily struggles. “They show that even the mighty and heroic can fall victim to everyday burdens.” Also included are banner ads. “They’re those annoying ads that pop up in the corners of your webpages!” he says.

Three poster ads

An interactive element:

This gives consumers a way to not only look at the campaign but to use it as well, says Lafergola. His “Calm App” links players to their PlayStation Now account to get access to sleep stories, soundscapes and more, narrated by PlayStation characters.

Interactive “Calm Ap”

The experiential portion: 

This can be an event of some sort. For this campaign, there are PlayStation Meditation pop-ups located in parks around the world like Central Park. The sessions are hosted by PlayStation characters like Kratos.

The scented candles are an example of merchandize that could be purchased at the meditation pop-ups:

Experiential Merch (candles)

The innovative feature:

This is the “PS Mood” feature, which goes with the user interface image.

In the practical sense, it’s where players go to choose games “that complement their mood.” Says Lafergola, “It’s the ‘Wow! no-one-has-done-this-before’ portion of the campaign.”

PlayStation Subscription Service “PS Now”

Case study video:

The crown jewel of the campaign is the video (above) that ties everything together in a concise and compelling one- to two-minute package.

“The video is my favorite part. Selling the idea effectively is so exciting,” says Lafergola. “I wanted to capture the escape. I wanted people to see that their struggles and stresses are real and justified. Sometimes all you need is a little time away from this world so you can jump into another one where your problems don’t weigh you down. When you come back to the real world, you’re ready to face your roadblocks head-on.”

Matthew Lafergola

Lafergola won’t always be working on ad campaigns related to video games. “My passion for advertising and design applies to many topics and themes. I’ve loved doing assignments pertaining to bullying, health and nutrition.”

He also wants to pursue motion graphics design. “Motion is a powerful vehicle for storytelling and that’s essentially what advertising is: a story,” he says.

“I want to hopefully create powerful art that impacts people in a meaningful way.”

To see more of Matthew Lafergola’s work, check out his website, and follow him on Instagram: @matt.lafergola.

To learn more about the Advertising and Digital Design major go to A&DD at FIT.

All images used with permission.

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