Alumni Spotlight: Justin Colt
Where and what are you working on right now?
I’m a partner at The Collected Works, a design studio that I co-founded with my fellow MFAD alumni, Jose Fresneda. We work with a diverse range of clients but specialize in the fields of music, art, and technology, which feels like the sweet spot of where the most interesting projects live.
To name a few projects currently open on my screen: We’re designing the identity system and poster design for a music festival in Cincinnati that was started by The National. It’s a particularly rad opportunity for us to merge design and music, two of our favorite topics. We’re also working on record and album packaging for the talented music duo Aly& AJ–which has also evolved into animation, web, and apparel design for their recent album. Lastly, we’re cranking away on a bunch of 3D assets used in a VR game called Nock. This one is especially exciting because we’ve been huge advocates of VR for a long time now, and love to help push this technology forward.
We also recently wrapped up some design work for Print Magazine, packaging for Five Boroughs Brewing, and for SVA–both in the MFAD and Products of Design departments.
What impact has SVA MFA Design had on your career?
I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend the MFAD program. The experience was truly invaluable, and it played a significant role in defining my trajectory as a designer. I met and learned from so many talented designers and thinkers while in the program, many of whom I had looked up to my whole life (and still look up to).
As I think about it, I can trace virtually every client, project, and opportunity I’ve had over the past 10 years back to my MFAD connections. I am continually grateful for the program’s influence on me and for connecting me with all the talented and kind people I’ve met.
Honestly, I can’t imagine where I’d be today if I hadn’t gone through the MFAD program. It has had such a profound impact on my life. I don’t really want to imagine where I would be if I had not had this experience.
If you could choose a thesis topic today, what would you pick?
I would actually love to revisit the thesis topic I worked on 10 years ago at MFAD. It was about helping people who had developed a physical product bring it to market and create passive income streams. The landscape in this space has since changed so much though, and the focus on physical products I believe would be too narrow for today’s challenges.
If I were to reexamine this idea, I’d also consider what it means to develop a “product” in today’s world. With the rise of digital products, the definition of what a product is has expanded, and I’d want to explore how we can help creators bring their digital, and non-tangible products to market and create successful businesses. It’s a challenging question to pursue, which I think would be fascinating.
One thing that I’ve noticed to hold true over the years is that there is still a vast chasm between graphic and product designers and those who can turn those ideas into lucrative businesses. I do think there is an opportunity to bridge that divide and help designers and creators of all kinds to propel their ideas into the world and create viable businesses.
Anything else you would like to share?
I’d just love to extend another thank you to everyone connected to the MFAD program. It has truly been such a life-defining experience, and I’m continually appreciative of all the opportunities I’ve had. Also, if you’re a current or former student and would like to connect, hit me up! That’s one of the best benefits of the MFAD network, continuing to meet rad people and to help each other.
Instagram: @thecollectedworks or @justincolt