Design With Pride – Two RMCAD students share their inspiration and important campus resources

Our community is full of vibrant and diverse voices, so this Pride Month, we are highlighting a couple of our students that embody diversity in their work and the resources available to them on campus.

Jack Gestner is a junior in the Online Illustration program and also an Online Student Ambassador. Gestner told us that one of his biggest passions is storytelling, so when he first got involved in illustration he was inspired by media that showed positive representation of diverse individuals. “I really enjoy shows like Dead End: Paranormal Park, whose main character is a trans man, and whose best friend is autistic,” he explains. 

Gestner went on to describe his personal style as “Diversity is really my focus. My main goal is to create the feeling of belonging that I currently get from looking at media that’s representative of the LGBTQ+ community!” Gestner said he feels grateful to be a part of the student ambassadors and help provide a voice for more minority groups. “One thing, in particular, I really love is being able to help organize RMCAD events that cater to LGBTQ+ needs and provide important resources,” shares Gestner. “As an online student ambassador, I want to offer a safe space for all students.”

Artwork by Jack Gestner

Similarly, Lee Brown is a senior, studying 2D Animation while working on campus at the Library. Brown described their art style as fluid. “A defined style isn’t necessarily a goal of mine because styles actively move and change over time,” shares Brown. They said that one of their biggest inspirations was Sage Cotugno, a non-binary Disney animator and storyboard artist that writes and draws for a comic called The Glass Scientists, which is based on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the Victorian era. “There are several characters who are openly gay and trans, and the comic makes the point that they aren’t necessarily accepted, but they’re here,” explains Brown. “These identities exist and always have. I find that really admirable.” Brown was also one of the officers for the on-campus organization, PRISM, designed to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ students. 

Artwork by Lee Brown

One resource both Gestner and Brown wanted to highlight was RMCAD’s name change form. Students may wish to change their name in the RMCAD system for various reasons, including but not limited to, coming out as a different gender identity. “There are some students who are unaware that you can request a name change, even if it’s not legally changed,” says Gestner. “Students have access to the form before enrolling, so they don’t even have to deal with having the wrong name in the LMS in the first place. I think it is really kind that the administration does that,” said Brown.

June is a month to celebrate and amplify LGBTQ+ voices, art, and perspectives without which your favorite art wouldn’t exist! Throughout this month and beyond, our community is committed to making students, faculty, and staff feel welcome, included, and heard. For more resources, please check out the Health + Wellness Center page and our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion page for more information. 

Additionally, we want to see what inspires you. This Pride Month, tag us on the RMCAD app with pictures of your artwork with the hashtag #DesignWithPride.

Many of the quotes in this story have been edited for brevity and clarity by the author, but are meant to retain the significance and purpose of the original speaker.

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