Recently I was able to interview and listen to the story of Cabrina Alviar, a graphic designer from sunny Southern California. When we were given this assignment I knew that I wanted to talk to someone from outside the Fox bubble that I often find myself gravitating towards. I decided to randomly email a few designers who I found online to see if they would be interested in doing an interview with me. I was lucky to get a quick response from Cabrina, who I discovered on Azusa Pacific University’s faculty list.
Though I came up with a full list of questions for our interview, I decided to just frame the whole conversation around how she integrates her faith with her art/work. From there the conversation flowed naturally and I was able to gain a lot of insight to her story.
Cabrina grew up in California, never really realizing that she would someday become a designer. In high school she took a wide range of classes including anatomy and design classes for high school students at the Art Center. While she enjoyed the design classes, she only really saw creating art as a side hobby and not something to be pursued as a career. Cabrina really enjoyed her anatomy class and went on to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a Minor in Exercise Physiology. Her family background played a big role in her decision to go into this field. A first-generation, hispanic student, her family really wanted her to go into the medical field. She completed four full years including internships and had plans to go on to get her masters degree to be a physical therapist.
After graduation she had the time to take a breath and think about if this was what she really wanted to do for the rest of her life. From her internships she saw that she wasn’t passionate about it. She quickly realized that she wanted to go back to school for graphic design, despite just finishing a four-year degree.
For her, the hardest part about this was having to tell her family. Fortunately her decision was graciously accepted and supported. They all saw that design was what God was calling her to do. She moved on to get her BFA in Graphic Design from Art Center College of Design.
When I asked Cabrina about how faith integrates with her work, she emphasized her thesis work from getting her her Master of Fine Arts. In this work she had the opportunity to explore her experiences dealing with death and memory. As a Christian, she doesn’t see death as the end since there is more to it than just being the end – she sees hope. Her thesis work in particular has to do with her brother who died at a young age. Despite this happening many years ago, she came back to it in her MFA work. Her final thesis show included photographs and mixed media pieces.
I really enjoyed listening to Cabrina’s journey through getting her MFA from a designer’s perspective. She was lucky to be in the right position at the right time to be a part of this program and still continue her regular work. Going into the program, Cabrina said she just felt like a designer and after finishing the program she felt more like an artist and designer. She reflected on the experience and said that it was really hard for her to change the way she approached art, but was really able to broaden her perspective.
She pointed out that in design, it’s really easy to get tunnel-vision and just focus on the objective and creative brief of the project. Her exposure to more visual artists and critiques of her work helped her to problem solve differently and become a stronger designer and artist. This really reminds me of our own program here at Fox and how valuable it is for studio and graphic designers to intermix and share our knowledge and experiences.
Now, Cabrina works as the Associate Art Director for the University Relations Department at Azusa Pacific University. She is also an adjunct professor at Azusa, teaching a few classes in design. She really enjoys working at APU because it is so much more than working for a company that she doesn’t believe in. Most of all she is able to do work for God’s glory.
Alviar, Cabrina. (2014, October 14). Telephone Interview.
Personal Website of Cabrina Alviar. http://www.cabrinaalviar.com/
Curriculum Vitae. http://www.apu.edu/faculty/cvs/calviar.pdf