Artistic Expressions: Portrait of a Visual Arts Major

Emma Herren, The Lost Castle, oil on panel

The Endless Possibilities of Digital Art

“I've always loved painting, and when I discovered digital painting, I fell in love with the endless possibilities with painting on a computer or iPad. I knew going into college that I wanted to major in art and somehow incorporate digital media as well,” Emma says. “What struck me about Cal Lutheran’s visual arts program is that it guides you in strengthening your craft as an artist and eventually leads up to developing an exhibit with your senior class.”  

Through her coursework, she discovered she could minor in multimedia, a combination that benefits her career objectives for the future.

“My multimedia minor ended up working perfectly with my visual arts major because it allowed me to explore several digital art and animation courses that tied in perfectly with my development as a fine artist and long-term artistic goals.”    

Emma’s part-time job as a student assistant in the College of Arts and Sciences has given her opportunities to share her creative talents. Having worked with the College since her sophomore year, she has designed graphics for its social media posts as well as flyers and brochures to promote activities and events. Her creativity played a pivotal role in the College dean’s office winning first place in the annual holiday decorating contest in 2019.

“That Emma is beginning her third year as a student assistant in the dean’s office speaks to the confidence and trust we have in her and her work. She brings a keen artistic eye to the College’s various marketing and social media projects and is equally adept at data entry, spreadsheet updates, and information archiving, among other tasks,” acknowledges the College’s Administrative Coordinator Ana Cruz Gorman.

“She has a very bright future ahead of her in whatever field she chooses.”

Emma has found her work with the College both positive and beneficial. “What I have enjoyed the most about this experience has been working with the wonderful staff in the dean’s office and the diverse range of tasks and projects that I have been given since working there. The variety in tasks has given me the opportunity to learn so many useful skills,” she admits.

Jumping Outside Her Comfort Zone

Along with honing her artistry at the College, the Gilroy, Calif. native works at The William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art. She is also a past member of the Multimedia Action Coalition and current member of the Digital Cinema Guild, and, most recently, the Film and Television Club, all of which have given her chances to interact with people she may not know from her studies.

“The amazing thing about clubs is that they give you the opportunities to make lasting relationships and network with people who you might not cross paths with in your classes. It also gives you the opportunity to learn from your peers and support one another in your future endeavors and projects. “

Emma also chose to enroll in Cal Lutheran because of its beautiful grounds, its small class sizes, and the amiable, welcoming feeling she encountered when she first toured the university in 2018.That sense of warmth and acceptance has continued throughout her time on campus.

“I think some of the best experiences that I have had at Cal Lutheran revolve around the fact that everyone is so kind and collaborative, and the professors are always willing to help their students and get to know them,” Emma concedes. “This atmosphere at Cal Lutheran makes it so easy to get involved in projects. All you have to do is reach out and sometimes jump out of your comfort zone.”

Emma counts both her work in and outside the classroom as having meaningful effects on her academic and personal life.

“Some particularly impactful experiences for me have been working at the dean’s office and the William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art, participating in the 48 Hour Film Jam, and taking several classes within the visual arts department. These have helped shape the person I am today.”

When she graduates this coming spring, she will not return to her hometown in the Monterey Bay area; instead, she will remain in Southern California to pursue work in animation.

“As much as I love the area where I grew up, the industry I want to work in is heavily based in Los Angeles,” she says.

Her short-term aspirations include an internship at an animation studio to get “hands-on” experience and learn more about that business. She eventually hopes to work as a lighting artist, then as art director, at an animation studio. There, she can apply her expertise in fine art and affinity for light and color to create the look and feel of future animated films.

When Emma graduates from Cal Lutheran this spring, she will leave a profound void in the College, according to Ana. “Aside from her talent, we’re going to miss the genuine, pleasant, ‘we’ve got this’ attitude that she brings to work every day!”


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