Elana Schlenker Studio Arts and Marketing Dual Degree, April 2007


When did you graduate from Pitt? Did you pursue any specific creative research projects?  I graduated from Pitt in 2007. As a student, I conducted an independent study in graphic design, for which I wrote and designed a guidebook to London, with information gathered while studying abroad there.

What degrees do you now hold?  BA in Studio Arts and BS in Marketing

What is your current job title and the nature of your employment?  I am an independent graphic designer/art director who creates printed matter, identities, packaging, environmental graphics, and interactive projects. My clients are varied, but I often work with other artists, publishers, small businesses, and non-profits. In addition to my studio practice, I am the creator of Gratuitous Type, a small graphic design magazine that I edit, design, and publish. The publication is available at shops around the world, and held in a number of collections, including the library of the Museum of Modern Art. Previously, I’ve worked as a senior designer at Princeton Architectural Press and an art director at Condé Nast.

What part of the country/world do you live in?  I just moved back to Pittsburgh after having lived and worked in New York for the last seven years. I still maintain a studio in Brooklyn, so I’m back there often.

Are you currently working on any independent creative projects?  Gratuitous Type is an ongoing personal creative project. In addition to the printed issues, which are published annually, I’m working on organizing an exhibition of contributors, which will take place in London this October. I also serve on the Advisory Board of the ADP Workshop, an organization supporting photographers whose work focuses on contemporary U.S. society, and I'm working on launching a new publishing project called Vice Verso with my partner, Ross Mantle.

What personal hobbies/activities do you enjoy?  I love what I do so I’m often doing it in my spare time as well! But beyond work, I got a puppy in December, and I try to spend a lot of time outdoors with her. 

Why did you decide to attend the University of Pittsburgh for your undergraduate work?  I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer, but I wasn’t interested in attending a traditional art school - I felt that it would be valuable to pursue a more rounded education in liberal arts. I was also attracted to the range of choice and affordability of the University’s study abroad programs.

Did you enter knowing that you would pursue Studio Arts? If not, how did this interest develop?  Yes, I’ve always been interested in a creative path and Pitt’s Studio Arts Department seemed like the obvious answer. Through a mix of courses, independent study, and internships, I was able to shape my experience there into one that focused on the areas that most interested me.

How has your Studio Arts experience affected or influenced your professional path?  As a student, I had tremendous support from my instructors and advisors in Studio Arts. They were incredibly helpful and accessible and many of the relationships I built as a student have lasted to this day.

Do you have any advice you would like to share with our Studio Arts majors?  Take advantage of University resources - within the Studio Arts Department and beyond it. There is a lot of support for student projects.  If you want to do something, you can probably find a way to make it happen!