New & Noteworthy

Carnevale Design Studio Hosts Graphic Design Students

April 9, 2015


On March 18, juniors in Graphic Design traveled to Grand Rapids to tour Carnevale Interactive Design Studio and learn more about what it’s like to work in their future field. Aided by milk and cookies, they attentively listened to the wisdom of the Carnevale team. Everyone was eager to learn, especially since five of the six designers employed by Carnevale (Megan Sundquist, James Andreas, Jon Neill, Troy Rojewski, and Melanie Ronquillo) are Ferris alumni.

Carnevale Interactive began in 2001 when Mike Carnevale, who had originally studied industrial design, but explored web design when he realized the potential of the discipline, left one design job in search of another. In what he assumed would be a transition period, Mike began doing some freelance design work. While he never intended to start a company, by 2008 Mike had a business with a growing design team. Today, Carnevale is a global yet comfortably small company. In addition to their trendy downtown Grand Rapids location, they have offices in New York, Greece, and Russia. The studio specializes in User Experience Design and Software Development, with the mindset that the two disciplines are as codependent as two halves of one brain.

Each member of the Carnevale team had a story to share about their career journey and advice to give to the students. Melanie Ronquillo, the newest member and a 2014 Ferris Graphic Design graduate, interviewed at three places before making Carnevale her home away from home. Encouraging those who don’t nail every interview, she said, “If you don’t fit somewhere, it’s okay. It’s not to say you’re not good. It’s just not right for you.”

Melanie seemed happy to admit that she’s still learning and growing as a designer. She compared the start of her career to learning her design street smarts and putting into action the knowledge she cultivated during her time at Ferris.

Megan Sundquist, class of 2007, agreed. “It’s about trial and error and finding your own way.”

The designers invited students’ questions during the latter portion of the visit. Most everyone was curious about the translation from design school to a design job and what it takes to thrive.

“If you’re going to be a really good designer, you have to live like one,” said Troy Rojewski, class of 2010. “You never turn that part of your brain off.”

The others seemed to agree that to be successful you have to love it and put in the hours practicing it. Mike praised our professors for preparing us well for the real world and our program for being, in his opinion, the best in the region. “Your faculty do a really good job teaching you the importance of communications between disciplines,” he told the juniors.