Get to Know Hayden Knoll
The digital design program and the wellness center drew student Hayden Knoll to pursue his degree at CU Denver.Jan 4, 2023
Student Hayden Knoll was originally planning on attending Metropolitan State University (MSU) Denver because he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, after learning about the digital design program offered by CU Denver and seeing the Lola and Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center, Knoll decided CU Denver was a better fit for him. Growing up in Littleton, Colorado, Knoll has long taken advantage of all the outdoor activities so easily accessible from the Denver area. Now, as a student, Knoll utilizes the climbing wall at the wellness center frequently and takes advantage of campus’s proximity to the mountains. As he pursues his degree in digital design with a photography minor, Knoll says one of the best parts of studying in the College of Arts & Media (CAM) is the college’s sense of community and support. “Everyone here is an artist in their own way and CAM allows us to find what we enjoy and push it to the next level.” When he’s not studying or hitting the mountains, Knoll pursues his interest in film photography by maintaining cameras. He also runs a side business on Etsy selling stickers, prints, and more.
1. Why did you choose to study digital design?
One thing that truly excites me about digital design is that there is always something new to learn. I’ve been working within the Adobe Suite for years while continuing to learn different programs such as Blender, Cinema 4D, Procreate, and more. As much as I would like to say that I’m a good designer, there is still so much that I can learn and use to better improve my ability to design. That’s one of the best parts about digital design, the fact that each year when programs and technology improve, we see new advances that help to further expand our arsenal.
2. Can you describe a digital design project that really impressed you?
One project that stands out to me most is from artist Steve Panton, better known as Bloc Illustration. One of my favorite projects from him is his “Victory Achieved” book. A collection of designs based on the bosses of the (2011) Dark Souls series. From the texture, the quality of the prints, and the community impact he continues to spread, his work is something I look forward to seeing when he makes new projects. He is currently helping the YouTube channel “Retry”, making illustrations of bosses for the 2020 remake of Demon’s Souls.
3. How have your interests evolved as you’ve studied in CAM?
Looking back at when I first walked into CAM, I had a very different perspective and view towards design. I only had a couple of months' experience working in Illustrator and a couple of years in Photoshop. So, I was still very new to the experience of working in a field like this. I remember doing a project in my Typography 001 class with Carrie Osgood where we had to make the Letter G using a pen tool. I didn’t know how to make a PDF or any of the technical aspects behind it all. But it helped to shape me into a better designer. A lot of my interests and what I feel reflect my style all depend on what’s going on around me. Whether it was me trying to continue what I did by staying in my comfort zone, or pushing the bounds of what I’ve done before with the knowledge that I can’t improve without being uncomfortable. Something that really impacted my interest as a designer happened the first semester of my freshman year, when my brother and I moved out of our house. There was a lot of unwanted stress due to being a new environment and having family be hours away compared to living in the same house as them. For the first time, I realized that how college turns out is up to me.
4. Can you describe a lesson or a project that you worked on in one of your CAM classes that was really useful? What did you learn and how do you think it will help your future career?
A project that really benefited me as a designer was re-branding the Visual Arts department in CAM. I was tasked with leading a team consisting of Elise Jones, Larysa Medina, Natalie Todd, Emily Gardner, and Evie Weeden. As a leader, I felt it was important to communicate a very high level of expectations to make the best work possible. I had to be the one that would tell a teammate if a design worked or hold them accountable if they didn’t do something I requested in a timely manner. I had much of the creative influence and was able to look at what was done in the past and how it can be improved. This allowed us all as a team to give the Visual Arts Department a brand-new face to represent what we do here. The project scope included t-shirts, water bottles, lanyards, stickers, a completely refined animation, and more. We were able to take what was asked of us and make a final product that we felt could represent us all as a whole. I think this project helped to signify what I’m capable of not just as a designer, but as a leader that people can look up to for guidance.
5. How have your professors helped you over the years you’ve been studying?
One of the best parts about CAM I feel is the range of professors and what they all bring to the table. Each professor I’ve had has helped me to push a project in the right direction and given me an insight I maybe never would have gotten. Having a professor that would push me on a project so much that by the end it’s a nearly perfect project or giving an insight into how the work we do can impact the world is truly inspiring. It shows what I could be doing in the future when I think that these professors and designers, we look up to were in the exact same place as we are.