Interactive Media

With programs like Graphic Design, New Media Design and Visual Communication Design, the College of Art and Design is home to the next generation of digital media. Students and faculty are constantly immersed in projects that explore the limits of the digital devices we interact with every day.

Creating Digital Resources

Through a federal grant-sponsored research project, a team of students and faculty affiliated with the MAGIC Center at RIT built an open-access digital system encouraging the spread of counter-narratives to violent extremism and online recruitment.

A mockup of multiple screens of a mobile application.

Hye-Jin Nae and Miguel Cardona, assistant professors of New Media Design, and students from New Media Design (BFA) and Visual Communication Design (MFA) executed the “Ex-Out” project. Building upon previous student efforts, they produced a system that helps community groups create awareness and stop the spread of hate and violence online. 

The system consists of a mobile app handbook (available via the iOS App Store and Google Play Store) that educates about creating effective social media content as well as a website housing a media kit of open-sourced, virtual assets and other educational resources. The app also features a built-in social media story maker. 

Using emerging collaborative tools, students worked together to produce the assets and designed the website and app. Ex-Out effectively created a space to deliver educational materials to foster positive change through the experience of learning, making and sharing. App and website users are enabled to use the digital instruments to disseminate positive stories with unified social media messaging that opposes misinformation, hate speech and extremist propaganda.

Honors

The Ex-Out team has received industry recognition for its work.

The awards include:


American Web Design Award from Graphic Design USA magazine

With more than 2,000 entries submitted, the top 10 percent of projects were selected as winners


Communication Arts Design juried competition

Finalist in the Identity Manual category. Ex-Out was among the 453 entries shortlisted from the 2,947 projects submitted.


Indigo Design Awards (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

  • Gold in Apps for Social Change
  • Gold in Integrated Graphic Design for Social Change, Freelancer
  • Freelancer of the Year Shortlist winner

Webby Awards

Nominee in Apps and Software: Public Service and Activism


International Design Awards

Bronze in Multimedia, Mobile, Web Application Design


Rochester Advertising Federation Awards

Gold in Online Interactive, Digital Publications, Campaign


University and College Designers Association (UCDA) Design Awards Show

Gold in Mobile Apps and an Award of Excellence in the Other Digital category. The awards, judged by a panel of peer jurors, recognize “the best of the exceptional design and creative work done by communication professionals to promote educational institutions,” according to UCDA’s site

Industry Recognition

RIT design students and alumni working in the industry are routinely recognized for their design and research excellence with major awards.

Visitors at the 2019 Imagine RIT festival play “Dröm,” a collaborative rhythm experience RIT designers and developers were recognized for in the Adobe Design Achievement Awards.

Student Awards

School of Design students — primarily from the New Media Design (BFA) and Visual Communication Design (MFA) programs — have won numerous honors in the global Adobe Design Achievement Awards over the years. In 2019, for example, 21 RIT designers were named by Adobe as “Top Talents” — a selection of the top 5-10 percent of entrants from around the world.

Winning projects have also included individual projects from students in Industrial Design (BFA and MFA) and Graphic Design in addition to Visual Communication Design and New Media Design’s interdisciplinary capstone projects.

Each year, fourth-year New Media Design students engage in a capstone experience in collaboration with developers in RIT’s New Media Interactive Development major. The completed team projects are then showcased at Imagine RIT: Creativity and Innovation Festival. Past interactive projects have included focuses on preserving the Amazon Rainforest, developing smart cities and a game that heightens the musical experience. Much of the work has gone on to be recognized in the Adobe Design Achievement Awards.

“From individual efforts and team-based projects to interdisciplinary capstones, the New Media Design BFA and Visual Communication Design MFA students strive to create solutions that meet the needs of our users through emerging technology,” said Adam Smith, associate professor and director of both programs.

“The Adobe Design Achievement Awards is a fantastic platform that selects and highlights the best of creativity from around the world and we are proud of our students for their achievements.”

A trio of alumni pose with their Google Awards.

Alumni Awards

As RIT design alumni produce innovative digital experiences and uncover new trends, their work has received countless industry honors, like Google’s Material Design Awards.

Pictured here, from left, are New Media Design alumni Valentin Drown ’11 (lead product designer, Simple Habit Meditation), Emmi Hintz ’12 (lead product designer, Anchor) and Linzi Berry ’09 (product design systems lead, Lyft). They each made integral contributions to their respective company’s app designs that were recognized as “best-in-class.” The Material Design Awards honor achievements in employing Google’s Material Design system in four categories: adaptation, experience, expression and innovation. Anchor won for adaptation, Simple Habit Meditation for experience and Lyft for innovation.

Alumni Spotlight

Jason Blythe speaking at a podium.

Jason Blythe

Principal UX Designer, Google

As a principal UX designer at Google, Jason Blythe ’02 (Graphic Design), ’05 MFA (Computer Graphics Design; now Visual Communication Design) has advanced the look and functionality of some of the company’s most popular services.

During his career at Google, he has applied an expertise in experience and interaction design, information design and architecture, and corporate design and branding. Much of Blythe’s time there has been spent in the Google Ads & Commerce division, for which he’s led the user experience design for Search Ads Formats and then Google Shopping. In 2016, he spearheaded the redesign of Google’s desktop search experience, using research, data and design thinking to inform decisions.

Blythe is now the head of user experience design for Google Image Search, serving a mission to make Google Search more visual.  Blythe’s design career has also included roles at Effective, Inc., Eastman Kodak Company and Saatchi & Saatchi.

As an RIT graduate student, Blythe said learning the basics of human-computer interaction set a theoretical foundation he still relies on as a designer at Google.

“I got the right set of foundational skills for my career (at RIT),” Blythe said. “As a visual designer, understanding the basics of typography, composition, color — those skills really matter.”

A headshot of Erin Sarofsky.

Erin Sarofsky

Owner, Executive Creative Director, Sarofsky

Erin Sarofsky ’98, ’00 MFA (Graphic DesignComputer Graphics Design) staunchly believes in the power of relationships.

“It’s not just you and your work, it’s the community that you build and grow,” Sarofsky said.

In the early days of Sarofsky, the Chicago-based company dipped its toes in the waters of main title sequences. Sarofsky, the owner and executive creative director, made them for popular TV shows CommunityShameless and The Killing. Now, they’re the firm’s signature.  

Sarofsky is best known for its prolific title sequences, most notably for a host of Marvel films, including Ant-ManCaptain America: The Winter SoldierDoctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy

The quality of Sarofsky’s portfolio is comparable to the world’s largest studios. But, according to Sarofsky, it’s not the work, on its own, that creates more opportunities. 

She said her original TV title sequences didn’t directly segue into the Marvel work. Sarofsky developed a rapport with directors Anthony and Joseph Russo while working on Community that resulted in further collaboration when the Russos went on to direct Marvel blockbusters.

“(The Marvel projects) came about because of a relationship, and that means I really took care of people and had good, creative partnerships with others,” said Sarofsky, RIT College of Art and Design's 2021-22 Distinguished Alumna Award recipient. “I can’t stress enough the importance of that.”

Armed with an ability to connect with others, paired with a blended skill set of motion design, live-action directing and writing, Sarofsky is trusted by the biggest brands and entertainment giants to artfully tell their stories.

“I think the biggest thing anyone in school could know is you have to be a good person,” Sarofsky said. “You have to take good care of people, you have to do your job well and be thoughtful. It’s being a real human who connects with people emotionally, practically and appropriately.”

Key Faculty and Staff