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Exploring the alchemy of the creative impulse and the entrepreneurial spirit, SVA alumni discuss the spectrum—from frustration to triumph—of their experiences working independently in cooking and culinary arts; film; fine arts; graphic design; product design; publishing; video and new media; and web, app and game design. Panelists include Justin Gignac (BFA 2002 Advertising); Melissa Hamilton (BFA 1983 Fine Arts), with business and creative partner Christopher Hirsheimer; Michael Harry (BFA 2001 Film and Video); Lauren Hom (BFA 2013 Advertising); and Catt Small (BFA 2011 Graphic Design). Moderated by Patricia Romeu, assistant director, SVA Career Development. Presented by SVA Alumni Affairs and Career Development.

Justin Gignac is the co-founder of Working Not Working, an invitation-only, real-time network linking creative freelancers with employment opportunities. The company has won two Webby Awards and was named by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the “100 Brilliant Companies” of 2013. Previously Gignac was an award-winning art director at ad agencies around the country. He also has gained notoriety for creating the bestselling Christmas app ElfYourself and various successful art project, including NYC Garbage and Wants for Sale and Needs for Sale.

Melissa Hamilton is a home cook, writer, painter and co-founder of Canal House, a cookbook and food photography production studio. She previously worked at Saveur as the test kitchen director and was its food editor for many years. Working with her creative and business partner Christopher Hirsheimer, they currently publish Canal House Cooking, an ongoing series of cookbooks for which they collaborate on all the writing, recipes, photography, illustration, design, and production. Their books have been honored with awards from the James Beard Foundation and nominations from the IACP in photography and food styling. They have also produced videos for the Bon Appétit series “The Seasonal Cooks.” Their daily blog, Canal House Cooks Lunch, has thousands of followers interested in what these two have cooked up each day.

Michael Harry is an executive producer of live action and animated commercials, music videos, documentaries, films and new-media content. He owns a production company, Concentrate LLC, and has produced campaigns for clients such as Chanel, Chase, Diesel, HSBC, Johnson & Johnson, MTV, and many others. He is also co-founder and CMO for OVAL, a tech company that has created the first “consumer smart sensor.”

Lauren Hom is a California-born, Brooklyn-based designer and letterer. Known for her bright color palettes and playful letterforms, she has created work for clients like AT&T, Starbucks, Time and YouTube. Lauren was recently cited in New York magazine’s “Reasons to Love New York” for her Lettering for Lunch project and is the author of the popular blog Daily Dishonesty, which Harry N. Abrams published in book form last fall. Her work has been recognized by the Art Directors Club, Communication Arts, the One Club and the Webby Awards.

Catt Small is a gamer, product designer, and front-end web developer at SoundCloud. She started coding at the age of 12 and designing at the age of 15. Small has created design work for companies of all sizes including Bedrocket, NASDAQ OMX and Scholastic. In addition, she makes video games with Buttered Toast Studios and Brooklyn Gamery, organizes events for Tech Under Thirty, teaches game development with The Code Liberation Foundation and draws comics.

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