Elon University / Today at Elon / Catherine Nester ’22 recognized in the prestigious Graphis competition
The Communication Design major received an honorable mention in the Graphis New Talent Annual, which celebrates the best creative work from students around the world.
As Catherine Nester ’22 recalls, the idea for her recent award-winning design project began with a new batch of kombucha.
Nester’s roommate had just started brewing the popular fermented drink, and the two spent a day naming each flavor and thinking about labels. The communication design major realized the company was perfect for her latest project in Associate Professor Ben Hannam’s visual image design course.
“So, I decided to run with the idea and build an entire kombucha brand based on authenticity, adventure, and community,” the communications manager said.
This is the origin story of Top Bunk Bucha, the trademark line of kombucha that Nester conceptualized and designed. And the results aren’t just good, they’re also award-winning.
Top Bunk Bucha’s design received an honorable mention in the Graphis New Talent Annual 2022, one of the world’s most prestigious annual events featuring award-winning work by international students in design, advertising, art/illustration and photography . The competition is fierce – with over 1,000 submissions from international art schools.
“The New Talent Annual is a collection of work that recognizes the best new talent in design,” Hannam explained. “It’s a legitimate and well-known design competition that showcases A++ work. It’s just more proof that Catherine Nester is a great student, a great person, a great designer.
Nester said his collaboration with his housemate on Top Bunk Bucha made the design process particularly satisfying.
“It’s really special to be recognized for something you’ve worked so hard on, especially something that comes from having fun with friends,” she said. “It’s easy to get tunnel vision with your own work because you’re looking at the same thing all day, so external validation is definitely reassuring. I’m most proud of the scope of this piece – there’s careful design to every element, from the logo itself, to the color scheme, bottles and labels.
Nester thanked several members of his communication design faculty for their unwavering support, starting with Hannam who was involved from the start of the project. “Ben gave me very helpful feedback throughout the process and was very supportive of the end result,” Nester said.
Additionally, Assistant Professor Shannon Zenner encouraged Nester to submit her work for the Graphis New Talent Annual, as well as several other regional and national competitions. Nester’s designs have garnered widespread acclaim and recognition from the American Advertising Federation and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. During the AEJMC’s Best of Design competition, Nester won awards in six categories, including Best in Logo and Best in Packaging.
“All of my teachers at Elon have been so supportive and a big part of my success is because they believe in me,” she said.
This support validated Nester’s decision to enroll at Elon, which she felt offered the best program to suit her interests and career plans.
“Communication design is what brought me to Elon,” the senior said. “When I visited other schools, it seemed like my two options were to study writing or journalism at communications school, or study graphic design at art school. This program allowed me to combine my passions for strategy and effective storytelling with my love for the visual arts and creativity.My specialization in communication design not only sharpened my design skills, but also my thinking and problem-solving skills of problems.”
Having worked with Nester in the classroom and with Live Oak Communications, the school’s student-run strategic communications agency, Hannam said the senior encapsulated all the qualities a teacher could hope for.
“I can tell you firsthand that she embodies the ‘leave no stone unturned’ spirit that all of Elon’s teachers want for their students,” Hannam said.
Unsurprisingly, Nester received the Communication Design department’s Outstanding Senior Award at the School of Communications’ annual awards ceremony on May 3.
After graduating, Nester will participate this fall in the Disney College Program, a nationwide internship opportunity supported by The Walt Disney Company. Thereafter, she plans to seek a position as a graphic designer in the Orlando area.