Alumni Stories


Joshua Solas ('18, BFA Illustration)

Independent artist/designer at SOLASINK
Instagam: @solasink

We connected with Joshua Solas during the installation of his mural created through The 49507 Project to learn more about what this project means to him, what the collaborative process was like, and what he hopes will come out of the time and energy he and so many others invested in making it all happen.

"What I tried to focus on was this concept of actually enriching the community. One way of doing that, I think, is ensuring that wherever you go after leaving your community, you're able to bring back your wealth. Really, what's happening in the mural is people returning with what they have collected, overcoming obstacles to come back and enrich their community. I hope that's reflected, and also these ideas of warmth and love that were constantly brought up in the listening sessions." 


Lauren Copping ('18, BFA Interior Design)

Owner, Mont Design
Instagram: @montdesignco

When COVID-19 stranded Lauren Copping in Bali, she had two choices: put her career plans on hold or adapt. With Mont Design, Lauren is embracing a nomadic approach to work/life balance and building a thriving full-service remote interior design firm that meets clients where they are, no matter what part of the world they (or she) happen to be in.


Caleb Ryan Wells ('21, BFA Fashion Studies)

Owner/Creative Director at Caleb Ryan Wells | Genderless Clothing
Instagam: @crw_1999

Caleb Ryan Wells's transformation from design student to burgeoning fashion designer is as much a story of personal growth as it is one of creative growth. With their capstone fashion collection, "Bad Touch," Wells has channeled both their struggles and their triumphs on the journey of self-discovery into boldly unique garment designs that embody the powerful connection between fashion and identity. 

Since earning an Outstanding Student Award from the Surface Design Association for "Bad Touch" in 2021, Wells has taken flight as a designer, earning an internship with Hemsley London and making waves in the industry with the launch of their own bespoke genderless clothing brand, Caleb Ryan Wells. 


Alyssa Menold ('13, BFA Illustration)

Freelance Illustrator at Alyssa Menold
Instagam: @alyssamenold

What's life like for a freelance illustrator specializing in creating artwork for tabletop games? Alyssa Menold recounts her journey post-graduation—from roaming conventions trying to get her foot in the door to watching the cast of Stranger Things playing with Dungeons and Dragons stuff she created. And in-between, she takes us inside her process and offers some sage advice to those looking to make the most of their creativity.


Yanxin Chen ('05, BFA Furniture Design)

Owner, C Yanxin Designs

"If I never went to KCAD I would not be creating furniture today. There's no doubt that four years there changed my life."

Yanxin Chen first came to the US from China in 2000 to participate in a violin-making competition. He never expected that the trip would spark the end of one career and the start of another—one more suited to his desire to design without limits. Before long he was enrolled in the KCAD Furniture Design program and soaking up every experience that came his way, from immersion in the rich history of the craft to industry connections that opened up invaluable internship and employment opportunities.

Now, as the creative force behind C Yanxin Designs, Yanxin is one of the foremost furniture designers working in the industry today, and he's continually pushing toward what's next.


Hwa-Jeen Na ('17, BFA Photography)

Owner, Jeen Na Productions
Instagram: @hwajeenna

"I've been able to do some fairly large-scale projects in the 5 years I've been out of school, and I owe that all to my mentors and the connections I made at KCAD. . .I just want to make people stop and think, whether it's with fine art or in the commercial sphere."

For Hwa-Jeen Na, a creative career is all about collaborating across boundaries to bring extraordinary ideas to life. Since graduating from KCAD, the self-described "creative producer" and owner of Jeen Na Productions has been on a mission to make the most of every opportunity that comes his way, from commissioned work for the likes of Sony Music Entertainment, Vanity Fair, Billboard, and DisArt to joining forces with artist Yuge Zhou to win the Juried Installation Award in ArtPrize 2021 with “Project Unity: Ten Miles of Track in One Day," an immersive mixed-media piece exploring questions of identity, connection, and otherness.