Silver Lake College's Stephanie Carpenter shares her enthusiasm for the graphic arts

Posted On January 26, 2017

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Photo by Suzanne Weiss

By Suzanne Weiss/Director of Public Relations

MANITOWOC, Wis.  -- While she’s reaching for the future, Stephanie Carpenter retains a firm grasp of the past.

On the on hand, Carpenter is an authority in the growing field of graphic design and shares her expertise with Silver Lake College students, where she is as an adjunct faculty member. She joined the college in fall of 2015 — a year before it introduced its graphic design degree program — and is teaching Digital Imaging this semester.

“The skills students learn in these classes will prepare them for a job in the future. There are so many different areas students can go into with this degree. They can pursue careers with arts and advertising agencies, work as in-house company designers, as type and package designers, or do freelance work,” she said.

“Everything in the world is designed, from the chair we sit on to the billboard we see as we drive to work. Having the opportunity to work on projects that are put into production is very exciting,” Carpenter said.

On the other hand, Carpenter knows her graphic design history. She is, after all, assistant director of the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, which lays claim to being the only museum in the world dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type. Its collection contains 1.5 million pieces of wood type with more than 1,000 styles and sizes of patterns.

Past and present come together in the classroom.

When her graphic design students manipulate text and images on their computer screens, Carpenter likes to remind them that the graphic arts have a long history, which she traces back to the publication of the Gutenberg Bible in the 1450s, considered the advent of moveable type and the printing industry.

From those roots sprang the countless software tools that today’s graphic designers have at their fingertips.

“Graphic design is visual problem-solving. You don’t just have to learn the software program, you have to learn how to solve problems,” said Carpenter, who gives her students a grasp of the origins and history of type, as well as hands-on experiences sans computer.

“I’ve always been visually oriented,” she said. “In high school, I got to do darkroom photography and graphic design. I realized that I like visually organizing information. Graphic design is the marriage of image and text and I like how it works together.”

Carpenter received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Indiana University in Bloomington and taught as an associate instructor while doing her graduate work. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design from the University of St. Francis in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

Carpenter is very involved in the community through the museum, where she teaches letterpress printing workshops and leads tours, often to student groups. She is currently working on presenting a juried exhibit of letterpress works from all over the world starting in April at the museum.

Carpenter also has exhibited her personal letterpress prints at local galleries and at Silver Lake College. She enjoys being involved in the community and recently designed a logo for Heart-A-Rama, the Lakeshore’s long-running American Heart Association fundraiser.

In addition, she was interviewed for a feature-length documentary about the people and institutions that are keeping letterpress alive. Appropriately, it’s called, “Pressing On: The Letterpress Film.” For more information, visit www.letterpressfilm.com.