Student Spotlight: Graphic design major constructs National Park-themed showcase

Senior graphic design student Amber Dale creates artistic works in a variety of mediums, including digital design, photography, and printmaking.


Contributed by Amber Dale.

Parker Jones, Arts Reporter

This week, stepping into University of Iowa senior Amber Dale’s exhibition in the Visual Arts Building will be like walking into a National Park gift shop. A central display filled with trinkets accompanied by a fake campfire and prop tent will add to the naturalistic setting, aided by graphic design elements.

Dale creates a variety of artistic works to explore her interests and bring unique takes to graphic design as a medium, including her upcoming National Park-themed BFA exhibition. The graphic design major’s artistic talents span a multitude of mediums, including digital and traditional design, photography, and even printmaking.

Graphic design by Amber Dale.

Dale also works as a graphic designer for the Marketing and Design department of the Division of Student Life at Iowa. She has won first place at the student art show at Black Hawk College in Moline, Illinois, and has also had her work shown in student shows at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.

Hailing from East Moline, Illinois, 28-year-old Dale found her artistic beginnings while attending community college. There, she searched for a way to further her childhood interest in photography and eventually took an interest in graphic design.

“I actually wasn’t very artistic as a kid, I didn’t even like doodling in my notes — then I was at community college for a bit, and I was bored so I was taking some photography classes because I liked photography growing up,” Dale said. “A friend of mine was in a graphic design class next semester, and I really wanted to take a class with her and wound up being in that class, and that’s how I got into graphic design.”

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This week from Oct. 19 to Oct. 24, students and visitors will be able to view Dale’s Graphic Design BFA exhibit,  National Park Gift Shop, in the Visual Arts Building. In addition to showcasing her abilities in digital design, the exhibit focuses on Dale’s interest in the National Parks, specifically National Park Passports: Small books or travel documents that park-goers can collect stamps or souvenirs in from each park they visit.

“I like to go backpacking through the National Parks with my husband; I would look at the passports they have there, and I didn’t really like them,” Dale said. “Some of them were pretty cool, but they just didn’t have what I wanted in them, so I started working on my own in the background while going through school, and it’s finally done and I’ve got it printed.”

Graphic by Amber Dale.

Along with graphic design, Dale has also dabbled in printmaking and photography. A recent print Dale said she’s particularly proud of features an image of several hands holding someone’s back, with two different quotes overlayed on the image. She describes the print as an “anaglyph,” or an image with a stereoscopic 3D effect resulting from using two different colored filters.

“When you look through 3D glasses you see a different thing; when you look through just the red filter, you can read one of the quotes, and then when you look through the blue filter you’ll see a different quote, and then when you look through both filters at the same time, the image kind of moves a little bit,” Dale said.

The artist added that she creates whatever she feels like in the moment, though she acknowledges that in a graphic design career, it is important to follow the client’s lead.

“My personal work is usually just kind of me working through my own feelings, and kind of thinking about things that have happened, but in [a graphic design job] I’m just doing as I’m told,” Dale said.