Julie Sayo

Julie lives in Baltimore, MD where she works as a lecturer in graphic design. At the time of applying to school, she was an undergraduate student at Loyola College of Maryland.

My interest in design emerged after a friend introduced me to design software during my sophomore year of college. I was a Political Science major at the time with a minor in Asian Studies and I was fairly certain that I would attend law school to pursue a career as an immigration lawyer. But after my first use of design programs, I wanted to learn everything about the design process. I quickly learned my way to through Photoshop and Illustrator and my skills and interest in design led to a job as a creative assistant at my university’s Center for Community Service and Justice. In this position I was able to explore my voice as an artist and the role of a designer in the nonprofit world. I was responsible for designing promotional material for the Center that reflected the mission and spirit of the office. Initially I thought that designing for an office that promoted social justice and community service would be a daunting task, but I discovered that meaningful design is not just about outcomes but about the process.

As an artist, my goal is to use design as a tool that sheds light on issues often ignored by mainstream media. My work invites the viewers to embrace new experiences and to learn about themselves and their community. I hope to empower groups that have been marginalized within society by bringing awareness to the issues that affect them. I contrast organic colors with rough and gritty textures symbolic of a union between urban life and the comfort of nature. I am also inspired by the works of Salvadoran artist Fernando Llort who focuses on community life as his subject, as well as Russian constructivist propaganda that urges the viewer to act for the betterment of those around them. By incorporating these different elements, I hope to reach a broad audience and invite them into an awareness that leads to action.

My work has been shaped by my experiences in my own community. As a student in an underperforming public high school in Baltimore County, I witnessed firsthand how systemic oppression affected the quality of my education and how it fueled negative stereotypes of my neighborhood. Being at a private Catholic university, I continue to experience prejudice based on my gender, race and socioeconomic background. Despite these experiences, my understanding of privilege motivates me to utilize design as my voice in challenging misconceptions and perceptions about the reality of social injustices.

Although I have limited formal training in design, I am working very hard to learn more about the design process. I hope that my portfolio reflects the progress that I have made in the past two years. Given my background in political science and my advocacy work, I believe that the program will help me integrate my interest in design and social justice so that I can find meaningful work in the nonprofit sector.