Artist Spotlight: Claire Van Wagoner

Claire Van Wagoner is a junior digital media major with minors in studio arts and entrepreneurship. She loves graphic design, photography and 3D art, and has been interested in design for years. “In high school, I was the art and publicity chair for the student council and I was also the yearbook editor. That really got me interested in design.” 

Van Wagoner is from Wisconsin and a Valpo family as well, which piqued her interest in the university. Her mom is a Valpo alum and her brother currently attends Valpo with her.

“I knew I loved Valpo since I was young, once I saw the digital media major I loved it because it was a mixture of graphic design, public relations and video. You could really get into whatever you want [with the major] and experience a bunch of different topics,” Van Wagoner said. “I wanted to combine my artistic ability with a little bit of business, so if I wanted to pursue the business side of things it would be easy for me with freelance design in the future.” 

She enjoys using Adobe programs the most, especially Illustrator. She’s taken an array of classes at Valpo as well. 

“I’ve taken Web Design, Graphic Design I and II, TV Production and Cinema Production,” Van Wagoner said. “And I’ve taken the 2D and 3D art classes. I’ve just added the [studio art major] so I have a lot left to accomplish.” 

Van Wagoner details how her interest in graphic design started. 

“I hated math and science… I’ve always been into art but never thought I was that good at drawing. Once I started getting experience in different classes of computer design, I loved it. When I was the yearbook editor, I could sit at the computer and work for hours. There, I found my passion for graphic design.” 

Van Wagoner is also a graphic designer for The Torch and says her favorite thing about designing is making art that relates to people and current times.

 “I like to create pieces that resonate with people… I love designing for the Torch where I get assignments that promote events on campus or have to do with issues that relate to students.” 

In addition to working on the Torch, Van Wagoner has another job on campus.

“I’m the assistant editor for [The Cresset]. It really got me interested in design. I lay out the pages and it combines my love for English because I get to edit articles, essays and poems,” Van Wagoner said. “I love it, but no one really knows about it.” 

Her dream job is to work at a magazine as a graphic designer. “I don’t know which, but it would be really intriguing to design the covers, graphics and layouts.” 

Although her passion lies in graphic design, Van Wagoner said that the favorite thing she has made was actually in her 3D class. 

“My favorite thing was a sculpture I made. I used some design too-- I sketched it out and did work on the computer to brainstorm. I took a lot of found objects and put them into a collage…  it was cool combining my graphic ability with 3D sculpture design.” 

In regards to advice to other graphic designers, Van Wagoner said, “I didn’t really think I was a good artist and was down on myself because I would compare myself to other people’s work. But by researching, practicing through trial and error, and designing constantly-- my confidence has grown. And get involved on campus. Once I got involved and started working two jobs, it has made me a lot more confident in my work.”

If you would like to nominate someone for an artist spotlight feature in The Torch, please contact torch@valpo.edu.

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