Nicole Lohkamp is graduating from Eastern New Mexico University this semester with a bachelor's degree in graphic design with minors in communication studies and general business. She hopes to use the degree to work in a design firm designing packaging, creating website prototypes and working in the social media field.
"I love so many aspects of graphic design it's hard for me to choose just one," she shares. "Further on in my career, I want to freelance full-time by taking jobs from clients and managing my own art shop where I sell prints, stickers and more."
Her dream is to attend conventions and sell her art in person. "Conventions are fun to attend, and I would love to experience what it's like to be part of the artist alley selling my art," she explains.
Nicole was born in Palau and moved to Gallup, New Mexico, when she was eight. At 12, she moved to Wisconsin. She ended up in the Green Bay area, which is where she calls home.
She has three siblings. Her stepfather works at a printing press, and her mother has worked several different jobs, from being a performer in Japan to a housekeeper. Nicole is engaged to her high school sweetheart; they began dating during her senior year.
The first-generation college student chose to attend ENMU "on a whim. I didn't exactly know what I was doing after high school, and my best friend convinced me to come to ENMU. I met her when I still lived in Gallup, and we stayed in contact after I moved to Wisconsin, but before I moved, we dreamt about going to the same college and being roommates.
"Fast forward to senior year of high school, the program I wanted to go to at a different college got cut, so I ended up deciding to come here," she explains. "ENMU's small class sizes and cheaper tuition also played a big role in my decision."
She originally pursued a major in computer science. "I was hesitant about going after an art degree due to the stereotype of the starving artist," she says. "After my first semester, computer science didn't feel like a good fit, and I decided to just go with my gut and chose something related to art. That's when I learned about graphic design, and it ended up being something I really am passionate about!"
The senior has been inspired by her art professors, especially Scott Golem and Mario Bocanegra. "They have helped me improve my work greatly during my time as a graphic design major," she shares. "They have taught me how to have a critical eye and get super nitpicky with my own work, making me into the designer I am today."
She continues, "They have been very supportive of me throughout my degree, and I don't think I would be as confident in my designs today without the guidance that they have given me. They have also helped shape me into a designer that can do a little bit of everything. Without Mario's guidance, I would have never gotten into motion graphics, and Scott taught me how to create amazing, effective layout designs for publication works."
The thing she enjoys most about being a Greyhound is "the fact you can build a strong mentor-student relationship with professors here. I feel like it would be more difficult to accomplish at bigger universities."
Her favorite courses at Eastern were Web Design and Motion Graphics.
She muses, "My motion graphics class was something that put me out of my comfort zone, and while it was very challenging and dreadful at times, I really value what I learned from it! It's a skill set that gives you a step up in the graphic design field.
"I loved web design because I've been interested in it since high school, and it showed me that I could have a career as a UI designer. It is a position where you don't need to know how to code, just prototyping how websites and apps look."
Her favorite spots on campus are the Art and Anthropology Building (AA) and the Golden Student Success Center (GSSC).
"The AA is one of my favorite places just from how often I have been in it, whether it be for classes or to finish my other work," she explains. "Being in a space that is specifically for someone to make art in helps me stay in focus while I work on projects. Plus, there are resources in there like printers and more that I don't have available at home that I can use.
"The GSSC is another one of my favorites because it's another place that helps me stay focused. There are a lot of little nooks to settle yourself in and get to work. And, if I have friends with me to study, it's always nice getting a study room to all work alongside each other."
Nicole has been very involved at Eastern, serving as president of ACE+D, a member of the Spanish Club and a graphic artist for the Office of Campus Life. Her art was part of the 2021 and 2022 Runnels Gallery Juried Exhibitions.
The dean's list honoree, who is graduating with magna cum laude, was the recipient of the Reid Isler Memorial Scholarship, Metcalf Scholarship, Steelman Starving Artist Scholarship and the Doris Jean Setser Scholarship.
Nicole offers advice to students interested in pursuing a degree in graphic design: "Don't be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone, and don't be discouraged when your peers and professors get nitpicky with your work! Being nitpicky pushes you to be a better designer. It can be annoying, but those extra arrow key presses to the right or going a point size up in your type can really make a difference."
The Greyhound's hobbies include video games, crocheting, drawing, taking care of her plants, watching cartoons and reading. She has a pug named Oreo and a chihuahua named Bella.
She hopes to one day have a home with a large backyard so she can take in rescue animals and "let them live life to their fullest!"