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Junior Megan Forbes Hones Her Craft as a Designer

Be Orange

Megan Forbes pursues a creative path, looking to make an impact through her design work. #BeOrange

Forbes standing in her workspace on the Communications Design floor in the Nancy Cantor Warehouse, Downtown Syracuse

Megan Forbes ’20 has a design on life that combines creativity and blue-sky thinking to play an influential role in people’s lives. As a communications design major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Forbes wants to be involved in projects that make a difference. “I believe designers have an opportunity to make a positive impact,” says Forbes, who lives in Manhattan Beach, California. “They’re able to persuade a large audience, especially if they have the right outlook and the right way to disperse their view. I plan to use my abilities to bring insights to important causes and create ways to help others. I want to make an impact.”

Learning from Personal Experience

Forbes speaks from a personal perspective. When she lost her grandmother, then her grandfather to lung cancer, she and her mother decided to establish Gone with the Wigs, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to raising cancer awareness and encouraging patients going through chemotherapy to abandon their wigs. The idea, Forbes says, is to empower the patients by focusing not on their outward appearance, but their inner beauty—a characteristic that her grandmother embraced.

For a fundraiser, they organized a fashion show, which featured cancer patients and survivors as models, people shaving their heads in solidarity with cancer patients, and an auction that raised money for cancer patients and their families. Along with turning a devastating personal time into a positive outcome that benefited others, the event gave Forbes the opportunity to put her creative skills to work planning the event, designing the website and logo, and filming the models. “It really kept me going through an extremely difficult time,” she says.

Gone with the Wigs logo designed by Forbes

Forbes traces her passion for creativity to her childhood. Whether taking art classes, shooting photography, or making films (she’s produced several for her mother’s real estate business), Forbes enjoys expressing herself. She’s also technically savvy and well versed in employing the various software programs used by designers. She cites her communications design classes for expanding her knowledge even further and says working independently on class projects—such as creating logos, advertisements, collateral, and 3D models for a fictional restaurant in her first semester of sophomore year—helped build her confidence. “I’ve always had an eye for design,” she says. “This project inspired me for the years to come.”

There’s value, too, for Forbes in internships and student activities. Last semester, she was on the design team for University Union and created the poster for Mayfest. “I was constantly working on it,” she says. “It felt like a real job, and it was really cool to see the designs all over campus.” A member of Kappa Alpha Theta, she served as the sorority’s social media coordinator for a semester during the recruiting season, and has also done design work for a few campus magazines.

During her summers, she’s interned with a production company—which included going on a shoot for an Apple commercial—and with James Perse, an L.A. fashion company, where she assisted the head of branding, learned about furniture, and gained insights into the company’s communications work, including promoting its new products and business ventures. This summer, she interned with the Executionists, a design firm in Marina del Rey, handling tasks in web design, branding, and graphic design. “There were countless projects going on all at once,” she says. “I was given a lot of creative freedom and encouraged to explore. I learned every day and gained a clearer view of what I want to do post-graduation, like what type of company I see myself working at. My major has taught me so much and I’m applying the skills I learned in class.”

Alt Kitchen logo, poster, and packaging designed by Megan Forbes
Alt Kitchen, a franchise restaurant concept including branding, advertisements, and packaging.

Embracing the Orange Spirit

So what attracted someone from the beaches of the West Coast to Syracuse? Well, she says she fell in love with campus on a gorgeous fall-day visit and also credits a close family friend, Bob Gautieri ’76, whom she describes as a “diehard, bleed Orange guy,” for his persuasive input. “I realized Syracuse had everything I could have wanted in a school,” she says. “It has the rah-rah spirit, the sports, the great academics, a beautiful campus, and different weather obviously from L.A., which was something I wanted to experience.”

Forbes was particularly excited to return to campus this fall as she’s joined by her brother, Logan, a first-year student in the Whitman School of Management. She looks forward to showing him around campus and also learning what he discovers on his own. She sees Syracuse as a place with endless opportunities to try new things and believes it’s important to enjoy the experiences, meet people, and make friendships. “It’s important to have a huge open mind,” she says. “It’s been amazing and eye-opening to meet people from different places around the world with unique perspectives. All my friendships I’ve made I know I’ll keep for a lifetime.”

Jay Cox

This story was first published on August 31, 2018 and last updated on .

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