Background and expertise

I joined Nazareth in 2019 with 20 years of experience as a graphic designer and art director. I’ve owned my own studio for 10 of those years.

My academic passion

My passions for typography and for the creative process allow me to model behavior that excites and intrigues students. When you combine exploration, risk taking, and a sound understanding of design principles, the results are amazing.

Courses I teach

  • Typography I
  • Typography II (my favorite!)
  • Issues in Contemporary Design
  • Graphic Design I
  • Graphic Design II
  • Digital Imaging

A powerhouse of talent

That’s our department — a powerhouse both in terms of students and faculty. And our small class sizes enable authentic relationships and focused learning. It’s all centered around a firm foundation of understanding that builds up to an applied practicum. We also pepper in a lot of fun — from creative workshops to out-of-house excursions.

Watching design come to life

I bring the work to them by showing examples, modeling the process, and taking field trips to local production printers and finishing facilities so students can see graphic design come off the press and packaged for use firsthand.

Changemakers in action

When visual communication design (VCD) students enter their careers, they’ll be tasked with visually communicating clients’ messages to target audiences. That’s why community engagement has always been a focus of my teaching. Through this work, students quickly realize the impact their work can have. We’ve worked with local non-profits such as Foodlink, Blackfriars Theatre, and The Children’s Agenda. One example: Students have designed brochures to advocate for more effective policies to help children facing poverty, racism, health inequities, and trauma. And the learning and understanding extends beyond the final product.

My advice: Dig deep with every project

Do as much as you can! Seriously. Find ways to work further and deeper on each project, from diving deeper into the research to staying a few extra hours at the studio. Attend a professional event outside of school. Find a fellow student with the same drive and work with them. You’ll push each other. And experiment: Take risks and be vulnerable. Try a technique you’re unfamiliar with or investigate a trend and bring it into your work.

Typography Class

    At her Typography class field trip to Flower City Arts Center, students got hands-on experience setting type and printing.

    Student Perspective

    "Shelly is always a strong advocate for her students. She sees the potential and will encourage each individual to produce the best version of their work. Post-college, Shelly was encouraging through my job hunt — which was intensive — and helped me find a career that fit me best."

    - Allissa Merritt '23, visual communication design, marketing associate at Mary Cariola Center

    Artist portfolio