Keene State College and Amherst Label have 4 connections

Holding the souvenir labels printed for this year’s Keene State College Graphic Design BFA Portfolio show are four graduates of the program who currently work at Amherst Label.

How likely is it to have four alumni of one graphic design program employed at one New Hampshire printing company?

When Skylar Curtis (third from left), Amherst Label’s intern-turned-marketing assistant, graduated from Keene State College this spring, she joined three other Amherst Label people who hold degrees from the same program.

Scott Blanchard ’95

Scott Blanchard (far right above), KSC Class of 1995, worked in publishing and woodworking in southern NH before joining Amherst Label in 2019. 

Although Scott didn’t produce the labels on the Domino digital inkjet equipment in the photo, he might have if the job were done during his shift. Scott says his graphic design background informs and influences the work he’s doing today. “My 14+ years in advertising as a graphic designer and department supervisor help…. My designer’s eye can make sure projects that cross my work station come out as best they can and as the customer intended.”

Skylar asked Amherst Label for souvenir stickers of the design she had created for the Graphic Design Portfolio show

Jeannette Sanborn, class of 2004, joined Amherst Label in the spring of 2020 after working as a graphic designer, art director and customer service manager for a specialty printing company in Hillsborough, NH. Jeannette says it’s helpful knowing before something gets to the art department if it needs to be modified. Her general knowledge of printing, color, and “what makes sense” have been useful in her career. 

Jeannette Sanborn ’04

For this particular project, the labels for KSC Graphic Design BFA Portfolio show, Jeannette is the Sales Coordinator who placed the job order and made stock, size and finishing recommendations. “I thought the steel-to-steel die would make the label standout and look better at the event,” Jeannette told us. “I thought that would be a cleaner finished product and make it easier to hand out to people.”

Her familiarity with printing and graphic design helps Jeannette assist customers with their label orders. And her photography skills are useful because Jeannette manages Amherst Label’s Instagram messaging. Jeannette can be counted on to notice the details. She thinks “To be a good graphic designer, you need to merge the artistic side and the technical side.”

Jeannette says, “It’s cool when you get the opportunity to help a customer,” for example, “experimenting with different finishes, metallic, effects, a white layer and varnished textures.” Jeannette enjoys helping to guide the decision-making process to achieve the best result. Amherst Label Art Specifications

The post card invitation plus a couple of the labels using the “Connections” design created by Skylar
Skylar Curtis, KSC Class of 2021, and the author, Ruth Sterling (KSC Class of ’88)

As the Marketing Manager and author of this story, I was both student and teacher in the Keene State College Graphic Design program from 1987-1988.

I was already a working graphic designer and communications manager before becoming an artist-in-residence at Keene State during a maternity leave of absence from a corporate job in Keene. But prepping lessons for the classroom definitely beefed up my graphic design acumen. One of my students, Heather Gendron, is a long-time faculty member in the KSC design program and taught Skylar. I also took a Photoshop class from Heather. More connections.

Connections theme

Skylar’s theme of “Connections” was chosen by her classmates out of other options and symbolizes the challenges of connecting during the pandemic. The design was used for the show invitation in print and online, as well as for backdrops and other promotional purposes. Skylar asked Amherst Label for souvenir stickers of the design she had created, to use as give-aways and souvenirs of the night. Amherst Label was happy to help.

So we are highlighting this attractive label project and the unusual number of design alum we are proud to have as coworkers. But we are also using this occasion to send a shout-out to our alma mater, KSC, where we learned a thing or two about printing, typography, graphic design and deadlines.

We asked Keene State if our situation is unusual and are waiting to hear back. It seems many KSC grads head to local employers, but four graphic design degrees at one place may stand out. Fitting, since Amherst Label produces outstanding labels!

Skylar’s thank you note

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