Eddy Vasquez ‘15 talks liberal arts, art and design 

Ann Karneus, A&E Reporter

Last Wednesday, Sept. 23, Eddy Vasquez ‘15 gave a talk at Fouts Center for Visual Arts as part of the second installment in the Visiting Alumni Artist Series. 

Raised in inner-city Los Angeles, Vasquez arrived at Whitman with the intention of becoming a biology major. 

“Growing up and being an artist doesn’t pay the bills,” Vasquez said. “The narrative that we were pushed was that you should be a doctor, or lawyer — things that bring stability in an otherwise unstable background.” 

As Vasquez continued taking classes, he realized that path was not for him and — as wary as he was about obtaining an ‘unemployable’ degree — eventually switched to the art major. 

Following his passions paid off.

Now working for Amazon Web Services as a graphic designer, Vasquez says that Whitman gave him the skills to rise to the challenge in new or intimidating environments.

Hannah Morell, a senior environmental studies-art major who attended the talk, appreciated how Vasquez articulated the benefits of a liberal arts degree.

“I liked how he mentioned that Whitman helped him prepare for handling ambiguous situations, which is something that’s applicable to any major,” Morell said. 

Along with Whitman providing a helpful toolkit for navigating the real world, Vasquez underscored how important his art thesis was to his post-grad success as a designer. 

“When the time for thesis came around, I wanted work that could stand in a gallery space and in a portfolio review to potential clients, because your portfolio dictates what you can do as a designer or artist, and it could make or break your presentation,” Vasquez said. 

Vasquez designed a series of pop-up books for his thesis and is excited to create more in the future. However, he also admitted the difficulties of balancing his work and finding the time to continue making art. While his design work at Amazon differs greatly from his creative pursuits, he finds it to be very fulfilling and is proud that the whole world sees his many thousands of graphics on display. Vasquez’s job has also shown him the various dimensions of design, which he wishes to explore more. 

“My work is now in between visual design and user experience design,” Vasquez said. “Where I want to go now with my career is more into the research side of things. Design is this huge umbrella, and you can pick wherever you want to be, whether it’s in research or visual design — just find the problems that you’re most passionate about and figure out where you want to go.” 

Vasquez is excited for what the future holds concerning his design and art, and reassures Whitman students (seniors in particular) in crisis mode not to panic about post-grad life.