Student Spotlight: First-year MFA student plans to create book based on original Game Boy video games

First-year MFA graduate student Lauren Coghlan is designing a book based on the original Game Boy and its video games for the upcoming CMYK art show through the University of Iowa’s School of Art and Art History.


Isabella Cervantes

Lauren Coghlan an MFA student in graphic design, poses for a portrait in her studio in the Visual Arts Building on Friday, April 1, 2022.

Sydney Hurley, Arts Reporter

CMYK — which stands for the four original colors that most ink printers use: cyan, magenta, yellow, and “key,” or black — is meant to represent the printing process.

It is also theme of an upcoming gallery show at the University of Iowa’s school of Art and Art History. Students can create anything they decide as long as it’s in those four colors — first-year UI MFA student Lauren Coghlan chose to base her art on video games.

Related: Student Spotlight: BFA painting student explores themes of ‘play’ in upcoming exhibit

The graduate student is currently creating a book that resembles the original Game Boy.

Coghlan plans to create a book with written and visual portions based off the different video games that could be played on the original Game Boy console, which was released in 1989. Different sections of the book will represent different games and assigned emotions, which she said she’s reframing to illustrate life.

“So, for example, Tetris will be like anxiety,” Coghlan said. Super Mario Land will represent hustle culture, and stuff like that.”

Generally, Coghlan specializes in graphic design but is experienced in a variety of art forms, and her project for the CMYK show exemplifies this.

Coghlan said her grandfather also inspired her when it came to her creations for the CMYK show. His old stereoscope — a handheld device that depicts a pair of left-eye and right-eye views of the same scene as a single three-dimensional image — caught her interest. She said she decided to incorporate the use of three-dimensional images into her Game Boy-inspired books.

“I’m playing around with including three-dimensional stuff on the pedestal, which the books will rest on, so like a 3D *Tetris* sort of thing around the side,” Coghlan said.

Coghlan also took the idea of three dimensions and the stereoscope and applied it to today’s world outside of her work for the CMYK show.

“I’m hoping to design my own of these [stereoscope] cards with something like typographic, something graphic design, but make it three-dimensional,” Coghlan said. “Even exploring or seeing if I can build a rig in which you could do it with a phone. So just placing your phone in here rather than making printed cards.”

Coghlan said she must have a personal connection to her art to create it, or else she will not put in near as much effort compared to something that she feels more connected to.

She said that as a first-year student, she doesn’t yet have an overall theme to explore with her art, but that some topics she is interested in include being LGBTQ+, being a part of a same-sex marriage, the idea of domesticity, homes, the privileges of having a home, and more.

“Especially since I’m in my first year, I don’t need to know that, and I don’t want to pigeonhole myself in that regard, either,” Coghlan said.

Coglan said she wants to be a professor of some sort in the future, but that she would like to have industry experience before becoming a professor to have the highest potential. She said that some of her dream jobs include being a book cover designer for the publishing company Penguin Teen, or a motion graphics designer for a video game company such as Ubisoft.