Life is a journey, especially when it’s driven by creativity.
In this new blog series, the VCU Instructional Computing Services team has invited and encouraged VCU students and employees to highlight their creative journeys through authentic storytelling. Each article is written and provided by the student or employee themselves to tell their story and share their creative journey with the VCU community.
Caitlin Kreinheder is a VCU Brandcenter student. Alongside classmate Jack DeMare, her 0% Laffy 100% Taffy project was shortlisted as a top 10 entry in this year’s Adobe Digital Edge Awards for the business category. In this article, Caitlin shares her creative journey across a variety of disciplines and experiences. You can learn more about Caitlin’s work and her experiences over at her portfolio website: caitlinkreinheder.com.
From architecture to advertising, my drive to find creative solutions has led me to unexpected places.
I’ve always been fascinated with making things. When I was younger, you could most often find me drawing with crayons and making mud pies in the backyard. This eventually turned into me building lego cities, performing plays with my dolls, and making scrapbooks as I got older. Most recently, it has turned into art shows, design internships, and a graduate program in art direction. Creating and making is where I can push the boundaries of what is expected and show my point of view to the world, but I didn’t always listen to this part of myself. Creating and making is where I feel most myself.
In high school, I was balancing a rigorous academic load with creative extracurriculars, but like many 16 year olds, the question of “what was I going to do when I grow up” was haunting me. On one track, I could pursue the logical and objective, but on the other I could pursue the creative. No matter how far I pushed the logical and objective, I still turned back to the creative. Originally my focus was traditionally academic, because that was what I had always been taught would help me succeed, but wherever I could integrate my creativity, I did. I was a yearbook editor during my lunch bell, I took an independent study art class just to fit it in my schedule, and I attended college summer programs focused on architecture and art.
By the time I was a senior in high school, I knew that my creativity was something I could not leave behind or live without. The creative track it was. At this point, I started learning how to use several Adobe software tools and eventually I began making things with them. We all have to start somewhere. Curiosity, so often, goes hand-in-hand with creativity.
Taking my creativity and curiosity to its logical continuation, I studied Architecture at the University of Virginia. There I explored user perspectives and the human experience of the built environment through visualizations and renderings of spaces from apartments to my own design build research installation. Although I fully intended to supplement my studies with programs in political science or public policy, by my third year I declared minors in studio art and dance. The creative track wins again.
Dance is a lifetime passion of mine, and the dance program at UVA was where I cultivated new creative skills in visual storytelling through choreography and movement studies. In my studio art classes, I crafted visualization and execution skills that gave me freedom in the representation and cultivation of ideas. These creative disciplines encouraged me to push the bounds of storytelling, which culminated in a multidisciplinary capstone project around the story of rediscovering childlike joy.
As I neared graduation, I knew that I wanted to continue pursuing my creativity, but I was no longer sure that architecture was the exact path so I started to begin exploring new opportunities. In the pursuit of a graduate program that would foster my drive to continue my creative education, I stumbled upon the VCU Brandcenter and was intrigued by the mixture of design skills and creative leadership. Just in my first year as an art direction student at the Brandcenter, I tackled a product innovation project for the Richmond tattoo scene, created visually innovative music posters, and crafted traditional advertising campaigns for brands such as KitchenAid.
These projects involved working with Adobe software tools where I learned new skills for type settings, color matching, and animating. Working with these tools and processes opened my eyes to the way I work and encouraged me to adapt to the way others work. These experiences helped me build valuable skills and develop interpersonal relationships which ultimately further augmented my ideas and creativity. I finished my first year at the Brandcenter not only feeling confident in my technical abilities but also in putting my ideas out into the world.
In all of these programs and experiences, what enabled me to visualize and produce the ideas I was crafting was Adobe software tools including Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, After Effects and Premiere. I had not only become more confident with using these tools Adobe, but I had also begun to integrate them as a critical part of my creative process from ideation to design iteration to finished product.
With more creative confidence, I submitted a project I worked on with my Brandcenter classmate Jack DeMare and under the direction of my professor Tom Scharpf to the Adobe Digital Edge Awards competition in June of 2023. The Adobe Digital Edge Awards celebrates game-changing student projects that use Adobe Creative Cloud apps to take academic projects to the next level. My project—0% Laffy 100% Taffy—was shortlisted as a top 10 entry in the business category. The skills and tenacity it took to get here did not happen overnight, but were nurtured throughout the entirety of my creative journey.
Now, I’m continuing to pursue the next creative challenge. My second year at the Brandcenter will throw me many, and there will be more after that. Looking ahead, the specific jobs I am considering are endless—from art director to experience designer to environmental graphic designer and more. Any of these tracks will continue to push me to learn more software skills and break out of any of my existing creative limits. And while there’s a logical component to deciding my next step, I have no fear that my creativity will lead the way.
To learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud at VCU, visit our website at https://adobe.vcu.edu. All currently-enrolled VCU students receive access to the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite of tools included with their student technology fee.