Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


While many see Graphic Design as a separation from art, for me, it has always been a happy blend between my fine art and technological skills. In both areas, I think about what I want the audience to think of feel when the pieces in question. Form, color, anatomy, and concept are all part of my creative process, regardless of whether I am creating digitally with a Wacom or building a wax form in the foundry.

During my graduate studies, I started to get into a flow of building narratives to hone in on conceptual branding ideas. Being able to build these imaginative brands further pushed the concept and realness of the ideas I was configuring within the graduate design lab. In these moments of storytelling, reality and imagination started to blur. With the idea of branding a distillery, I soon meshed aspects of my life and family figures to create something I had an artistic and personal connection with.

Stiks Distillery instilled my fascination with the branding for distilled spirits and my love for the western, country environment I was surrounded in growing up in western Kansas. When designing the crucial aspects of this brand and story, I referred back to design styles, such as Swiss International, and the use of logoytypes and logomarks to create the foundations of Stiks Distillery and its sub-brands. Using combination mark logos, I aimed for a vintage feel associated with badge-esque symbols but with modern traits to adhere to this idea of brands adapting over time but sticking to their roots and humble beginnings.

With all of this in mind, I quickly became reminded of grandparental figures who have impacted me and others in the immense vastness of my family. My parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents have played a large part in the ideologies of my family to understand and learn the qualities of hard work, persistence, and strength. With that, there is this notion of transparency through hardships in life. While we all experience situations and moments that are difficult, it's essential to be honest with ourselves and work through them instead of around them.

My time in graduate school has been a period in my life where I have had to do just that, persevere and work through the difficulties of my studies as well as situations in my personal life at the time.

The term 'Mettle' refers to the innate strength or spirit one has while coping with personal difficulties or demanding situations. At first, I felt this aligned with the figures in my life I wanted to recognize through this body of work, but it soon became a term that best described my personal experience during an extremely transformative time in my life.


Karrie Simpson Voth

Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type



© 2023 Chelsey R. Augustine


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