Convocation for the Department of Art and the Department of Design will take place at 8 a.m. on April 27
Gunnar Harrison’s love for design first started in high school, but it was not an inspiring art teacher or class that drew him to the field—it was the edgy graphics on his favorite band T-shirts.
“I went to a lot of metal and hardcore shows in high school and I was always attracted to the bold imagery and typography of the band merchandise,” said Harrison. “Comparing the visual elements with the music and finding parallels between the shirts, album covers and the overall messaging fascinated me.”
Harrison has come a long way since those early days. Now, at the end of his time at BYU, he says that what really fulfills him is the process of translating his ideas into design solutions.
“The creative process that goes into solving a visual problem, be it a poster or branding project, is something I’ve come to really love,” Harrison said. The little victories make up for the much more prevalent hiccups and frustrations. In the end, even if the final product isn’t that great, you learn more from the process than anyone could ever teach you in a classroom.”
Harrison started his academic career at the University of Utah. After his mission, he met various alumni from the BYU Design program. “I really admired their work and they inspired me to apply to BYU,” said Harrison.
He says the thing he is most proud of in his academic career was getting scholarships here at BYU. “As a transfer student who didn’t have great grades in high school, that was something my mom would have never thought possible.”
Harrison says one of his most memorable experiences in his college career took place during his first BFA class here at BYU.
“I spent a lot of time preparing for the assignment,” said Harrison. “Really what I was presenting was all fluff with no substance or ideas.”
As a student at BYU, Harrison had opportunities to travel to New York City and San Francisco to meet with design studios, BYU design alumni and professional designers. He said those trips were really valuable to him. “They opened my eyes to a much bigger picture of what design can be and showed me that working at that level doesn’t have to be some fantasy. It’s very attainable.”
Harrison hopes to eventually move to New York and open his own design studio. In the meantime, he said, “I want to focus on making work that I am proud of.”
What did you want to be when you grew up?
“I think it changed daily. For a long time I was fascinated with paleontology when I was younger because dinosaurs were my life. I was always drawing on things and since math and science didn’t come easy, I naturally gravitated to more creative pursuits like being a police sketch artist, a rockstar or both.”
Where do you find inspiration?
“My dad, who introduced me to design and aesthetic, the incredibly kind and knowledgeable graphic design faculty here at BYU and the many alumni that have gone on to do great things. Also type designers, because designing a good font is a gargantuan task with relatively low monetary compensation so you know it’s all about the passion.”
What was the hardest challenge you had to overcome at BYU?
“Getting into the BFA was a big hurdle. Lots of late nights and seemingly endless reprints of work. Aside from that, the late-night 3 hour classes.”
What is your favorite snack?