Sarah Michelle Argus ’12 took her degree in graphic design to New York City, where she will finish a master’s degree from the Pratt Institute. Her talent has already gotten the attention of Barnes and Noble, which chose her work as part of its line of back-to-school stationery. Her designs adorn a pencil pouch, spiral sketchbook and a journal available now in stores and on the Barnes and Noble website. Sarah came to Oswego from Cicero-North Syracuse High School, and her brother, Josh Argus ’15, is now at Oswego.
Oswego Magazine: How did you hook up with Barnes and Noble?
Sarah Argus: I worked all summer (2013) creating 20 designs to hypothetically produce for Barnes and Noble. At the very end of the summer, right before fall, we went in and pitched them at their corporate office in New York. The story behind that is kind of crazy, actually.
OM: I like crazy. Tell me about that.
SA: Like I said, we had no idea who these hypothetical Barnes and Noble people were. We were told to create a nice presentation. We did know they were going to have a projector. That’s all we knew. So, I created this really nice Keynote presentation. And we get to the meeting, the buyers are late, we can’t get the computer to work, and the projector wouldn’t connect to the PC. It was just bad luck from the start. But I had learned over the past not to just rely on digital technology and had three paper copies of my presentation printed off. It wasn’t anything fancy. It was just quick printed from my computer at home, but I brought them just in case.
OM: Excellent! That’s the Oswego education right there!
SA: It is the Oswego education! So that’s how I presented my stuff. And I was the only person to bring paper copies. I stepped up to the plate and they’re like, “Well, we have another meeting in 30 minutes, and there are seven of you. So you have about three minutes to present your idea.” I had 20 ideas to present in three minutes! It was scary as hell, to be honest. My heart was beating so fast that I don’t even remember how I got through the presentation. I walked out thinking, “Oh my god, that was one of the craziest and most exhilarating experiences of my entire life.” Then I got an email saying they liked one of my designs, and that’s how the whole thing started.
OM: So I’m sure you told all your friends. Did everyone instantly buy it?
SA: It was a very rewarding experience to see something I had worked so hard on, on the Barnes and Noble website. So I took a picture and I Instagrammed it, probably within the first 10 seconds of knowing that my stuff was on the market. All of Brooklyn, that’s where I live right now, was sold out within two weeks.
OM: How did your art evolve from high school to Oswego?
SA: Oswego taught me everything. I thought I was hot (stuff) because I knew all the programs. I remember my class with Amy Bartell ’86, Introduction to Graphic Design and I realized I knew nothing. Sure, I knew what programs did and how to play with them, but she was the one who really taught me how to hone my skills and how to really use the programs.
—Edwin Acevedo M’09
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