• December
  • 7
  • 2017

María José Castillo / Open Studio Night 2017 Branding

Each year, the MFA program opens our doors to the public to see inside the studios of our students. The MFA Open Studio Night has become an annual tradition here at MCAD and is a great opportunity for MFA students to share a deeper look at their creative process with the community. This year, thirty artists and designers will showcase their work and welcome people into their studios at Open Studio Night 2017.

2nd year MFA Print Paper Book student María José Castillo designed the branding for Open Studio Night 2017. Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Castillo worked for 7 years as a graphic designer before pursuing her MFA here at MCAD; first for a design studio and publishing agency where she focused on books, then for a design studio run by visual artists where she worked on a wide range of projects such as artist magazines, exhibition branding and catalogues, art fair publications, artist and museum websites, posters and social media assets, and more.

During her time here in the MFA program, Castillo has worked as a designer for MCAD DesignWorks, “the college’s in-house design studio that gives students client-based experiences in a professional creative environment. Designers at DesignWorks are full-time students who develop solutions for both the college and outside organizations.” For Castillo, working at DesignWorks has provided her with more opportunities to present her own ideas. Because the design studio is largely student run and is a learning environment, there is more time to work on more iterations of each project. Because of this, Castillo has had a chance to work her hand lettering into more design projects.

Castillo begins her design process by looking at a wide range of references, including previous MCAD MFA Open Studio Night posters, event branding at other art schools, event and art fair posters, and more. She begins to sketch after deciding on hand lettering or already designed type. For this project, Castillo developed five different proposals.

The final branding for Open Studio Night 2017 began with Castillo’s interested in playing with shapes to deconstruct letterforms. The interdisciplinary nature of the MFA program at MCAD also influenced Castillo’s final design. “We can all relate to shapes,” Castillo says. “They [shapes] don’t reference one thing in particular, but they reference the process of creation.”

Castillo has some advice for student designers: begin in black and white. Color is the final step in her process. It becomes a chance to ask: how can you make this design look festive? Somber? Vibrant? Red became central to the final Open Studio Night 2017 branding early on for a simple reason: it’s Castillo’s favorite color.

Thanks for the great work, María José!

Don’t forget to stop by the MFA Studio and Gallery this Friday, December 8, from 6 PM – 9 PM, for Open Studio Night 2017.


For more information:

María José Castillo
MFA Open Studio Night 2017
MCAD DesignWorks

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies

Alumni Links

Current Mentors

MFA Program Overview

MFA Print Portfolio