University of Georgia alumna Kelly Layton made a significant investment in the future of the program that gave her her start with a $500,000 gift to create the Layton Graphic Design Endowment.
“Georgia has a great graphic design program, and more people need to know about it,” said Layton. “If you want to pursue art, UGA presents such a great opportunity: a quality program, a rich campus community and a well-rounded, liberal-arts education.”
The endowment will provide substantial support for the graphic design area—part of UGA’s Lamar Dodd School of Art. Graphic design is the most high-demand, selective major in the School of Art, and with her contribution, Layton hopes to both elevate the program and inspire future artists and designers.
“This gift will be transformative for graphic design and our students as we have minimal to no discretionary funds,” said Julie Spivey, graphic design professor and area chair. “We truly cannot thank Kelly enough.”
Layton, who received her bachelor of fine arts degree in 1990, is a longtime donor to the university along with her husband, Brent. Her gift came after a campus visit to the School of Art.
“I had not been to see the graphic design area since I was in school,” said Layton. “And after I went, met with the professors, listened to what the area’s needs were and sat in on a class, I knew the difference I could make and knew I had to contribute.”
Layton’s gift is the largest single commitment in the graphic design area’s history. Spivey, along with the rest of the graphic design faculty, believe that the endowment will help to further improve the small, but accomplished area of study.
Layton herself secured a design position at BellSouth after she graduated, and for half a decade, she climbed the ranks there until the tragic death of her younger sister led her to re-evaluate her life. She decided then to devote herself to supporting her family—she and Brent had a son two years prior to this decision and found they were expecting another two weeks after—and helping Brent grow his consulting business.
“I made sure to keep in touch with my art,” said Layton. “I made logos for my sons’ sports teams, did some volunteer graphic design for their schools, made logos for friends, calligraphy for weddings, things like that.”
The business she helped her husband grow opened doors that eventually led to him becoming president and COO of a company ranked 26 among the 2022 Fortune 500.
Her family moved to St. Louis in 2010 and built a life there, but Georgia was never far from their minds—they continued to cheer for the Dawgs, and her oldest son even earned a master of science in business analytics degree last spring. Thanks in part to one of the Laytons’ neighbors, that affinity became something more in the last five years.
“Our neighbor was talking to us about all these organizations he was involved with, all this philanthropy, and he said, ‘First, you learn. Then, you earn. Then, you return,’” said Layton. “And I thought that was a great lesson. And so my husband and I decided: we’ve been blessed to earn a lot, we’re doing well, now we need to start returning.”
Since 2017, they have made numerous substantial gifts to UGA, committing to support—among other areas—athletics, scholarships targeting UGA students from their hometown, UGA’s study abroad program in Spain and now the graphic design endowment.
“The more involved we’ve gotten, the more connected we feel, and the more we want to do,” said Layton. “It’s been such a joy to get reconnected with the university in all these ways, to visit and feel the excitement of being on campus. We just feel like we’re home again, and this is where we want to be.”
Take a trip down nostalgia lane with our newest blog series documenting UGA in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. First stop: the psychedelic seventies! We sat down with alumni to learn about college life in a decade defined by war, protests and rock ‘n’ roll.
The 1970s was a spirited decade in America and that was no different on campus. Long-standing traditions, like chanting “How ‘Bout Them Dawgs,” found their humble beginnings during these years. Prominent buildings and organizations also were established, fostering a university-wide commitment to preparing a generation of risk-takers and culture-shapers.
Students in the 1970s were curious and innovative, tenaciously searching for better answers and impactful solutions. Among UGA’s distinguished alumni from this decade, there are scientists, musicians, entrepreneurs, professors and U.S. representatives. Bulldogs from the 1970s continue to inspire those who will lead, discover and serve across our state, country and the world.
Here are some important moments from UGA’s history in the 1970s:
- UGA celebrated the first Earth Day with a teach-in at Memorial Hall
- Nearly 3,000 demonstrators gathered on campus to protest the Vietnam War
- Aderhold Hall was completed (and named for UGA’s 17th president)
- Rising Junior Test was adopted as a graduation requirement
- Title IX of the Education Amendments was enacted, changing the landscape of college athletics (Before 1972, sporting opportunities for women on campus were confined to intramurals and club teams)
- The first women scholarship athletes competed on campus
- A standard minimum SAT score became a requirement for admission to UGA
- The Center for International and Comparative Law was dedicated to Dean Rusk
- The UGA Small Business Development Center was established
- The School of Accounting was established in the College of Business Administration (now the J. M. Tull School of Accounting in the Terry College of Business)
- The UGA Research Foundation was established
- “How ‘Bout Them Dawgs” emerged as the battle cry of the Bulldog Nation
Classic City Entertainment
In 1972, Georgia lowered the legal drinking age to 18, greatly impacting Athens nightlife. Students flocked to live music at Memorial Hall, the Last Resort, the 40 Watt Club and Legion Field. University Union and downtown concert venues hosted national acts like the Allman Brothers Band, Bob Hope, Jimmy Buffet and Randy Newman.
Athens-based bands revolutionized rock and alternative music in the 1970s. Ravenstone, a politically active hard-rock band, formed at UGA early in the decade. The group supported anti-war protests and other social issues. In 1972, Ravenstone played at the first openly held LGBTQ rights dance in the Southeast. The B-52s played its first gig at an Athens house party in 1977, later releasing several best-selling records.
The Lamar Dodd School of Art sustained the Athens music scene. Throughout the 1970s, it attracted highly qualified and talented students who were seeking a receptive environment for visual arts. These students would become nationally recognized artists, musicians and scholars. In 1979, four students formed R.E.M. and made their debut appearance on WUOG, the campus radio station. R.E.M.’s creative ascent would help shape the Classic City into the cultural epicenter that it is today.
The 1970s gave rise to disco, rock, R&B and soul. Toward the end of the decade, hip-hop was born. Reminisce on the 1970s with this UGA Alumni playlist, a brief sampling of the bands and performers who ruled the golden era of music!
While many students opted for jeans and T-shirts, Bulldogs in the 1970s boasted an eccentric style. Snelling Dining Hall held fashion shows, featuring trends like buckskin bags, wide leather belts, suede vests and bell bottoms. The Red & Black advertised inventive styles from stores like Clothesline, Millers at Alps and Sears at Beechwood.
Seventies fashion saw bold colors and patterns take center stage. Students expressed themselves through experimental, cutting-edge and unconventional clothing. Flared pants, pantsuits, platform shoes and ascots were worn by both men and women, paving the way for gender-neutral fashion.
In addition to trailblazing fashion and music, students established their own slang, too. Learn to speak like a Bulldog from the 1970s–or if you were a student during this decade, does anything sound familiar?
- Crib: Apartment or home
“Come to my crib to watch the Dawgs beat Auburn.”
- Ace: Awesome
“The Dawgs were ace this season.”
- Skinny: The truth
“Want the skinny? The Gators are going to lose.”
- Far out: Cool
“The B-52s’ new album is far out.”
- Get down: Dance
“Let’s get down at the 40 Watt!”
- Right on: Agreement with something or someone
“Go Dawgs? Right on!”
- Chump: Foolish person
“Did you see that Georgia Tech fan? What a chump!”
Whether you graduated in the 1970s or just started wearing red and black, UGA remains more than a memory and more than a degree. It’s a deep-rooted community, centuries old and over 340,000 strong.
Stay tuned as we travel to the 1980s!
*Shannon Moran, writing/communications intern for UGA’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations, is researching and writing this special blog series.
From the stage of the Georgia Theater to the streaming screen, writers and producers Waco O’Guin (BFA ’00) and Roger Black recently signed a deal with Netflix to produce a new 10-episode animated sci-fi comedy, “Farzar.” The pair will continue airing their show “Paradise PD” on the platform with season three releasing on March 12.
O’Guin and Black met in the Classic City in 1999 while O’Guin studied art with an emphasis on digital media and Black was working toward his master’s degree. After their Athens comedy show, “The DAMN! Show,” made it to MTV2 as “Stankervision,” the pair began writing and producing an animated series, “Brickleberry.”
We caught up with Waco to learn about his career in comedy and the creative process, and to ask for show recommendations to make a Bulldog laugh.
What led you to pursue comedy while at the University of Georgia and then after graduation?
I was a huge “Saturday Night Live” fan growing up, so starting a sketch comedy show was something I always wanted to do. I also loved “The Simpsons,” and my ultimate goal was having a primetime animated show on Fox. We got close!
What has been your career path since graduating from the University of Georgia?
While doing comedy on the side, I started a production company in Athens to produce local commercials and corporate videos. We were very lucky that our college comedy show got turned into a show on MTV2. That landed us an agent at WME in Los Angeles. We started pitching a bunch of shows and eventually sold “Brickleberry” to Fox. They did a pilot but decided not to take it to series. Instead, we were able to sell it to Comedy Central. After “Brickleberry” ended, we began working with Netflix.
What class or professor positioned you for success?
I took animation under Prof. Mike Hussey [associate professor of dramatic media and interdisciplinary animation studies, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences]. I learned a lot, and he seemed to believe that I could reach my goals.
What’s it like to be developing a new series, “Farzar,” for Netflix? How does the process compare to your past shows?
Working on “Farzar” is a lot like “Paradise PD.” Most of the crew works on both shows. Finding talented people and convincing them to stick around is key to a smooth production.
What is your creative process?
We write for about eight weeks to plan out the season and get scripts before our first table read. After the read, we rewrite the script and record it. After editing the audio, we hand it off to one of our directors, who creates an animatic. That animatic [a preliminary sequence of shots, images or sketches, usually arranged with a soundtrack] is shipped to Bento Box Atlanta, the animation studio that does our color animation.
Does working with a streaming platform offer you more creative latitude? How does that change the relationship with your audience?
It’s definitely different. With streaming, we don’t have to hit a specific time length for the episodes. As long as they average around 25 minutes in length, we are good. Netflix also releases all the episodes at once rather than weekly. With “Brickleberry,” it took years for the episodes to be released in some countries. On Netflix they are released worldwide on day one.
What are your all-time comedy favorites?
“Saturday Night Live,” “The Simpsons,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule.”
Learn more about the Lamar Dodd School of Art, where Waco began his journey to becoming a successful comedy creator.
For Dan Higgins (BFA ’93) and Alissa Eckert (BFA ’04), their days sheltering in place aren’t that different than those of their friends and neighbors in Atlanta or for their fellow Dawgs throughout the Bulldog Nation. They are balancing teleworking with homeschooling children and calming older relatives they can no longer visit. For Dan, that means creating a ballet studio where the sofa once sat. For Alissa, it means becoming a kindergarten and third grade teacher. What does set them apart is that they also make time for interviews with The New York Times. That’s because this dynamic duo created the ominous image of the COVID-19 virus that appears on nearly every news broadcast, in countless publications, internet outlets and splashed across social media feeds.
You see, in addition to being University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Lamar Dodd School of Art alumni, Dan and Alissa are medical illustrators with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. Alissa remembers receiving a phone call on a Tuesday in January. A new virus that originated in China was spreading rapidly and the public needed to understand the gravity of the situation. An arresting visual would give the virus a face, making tangible something people can’t see with the naked eye. Dan and Alissa worked together to research and pose questions to the subject matter experts in the lab at the CDC. Armed with that information, Dan jumped on the World Protein Data Bank and downloaded images of each of the three main proteins that make up the virus. Pulling those files into a data visualization tool, he was able to export them as three-dimensional (3D) images.
It was Alissa who combined those pieces together to begin to form the image that is so familiar today. With input from CDC scientists, they identified how many of each protein to show, how the spatial distancing should appear and where the lighting should come from in order to establish the proper depths. Dan and Alissa muted the colors to convey the seriousness of the situation. They were careful not to make the virus look playful.
As Alissa explains, “We didn’t want it to look like a toy.”
They created a high contrast image with strong details and textures, elements that bring the virus to life and make it seem real and touchable. After an intense seven straight days of work, the pair finalized the now-famous image for approvals on the following Monday morning.
Since then, they have animated the virus image, creating a version that rotates in hopes of giving it more life. They have also lent their talents to symptom illustrations and the creation of graphics for social media to further help the public understand the virus and its impact. [Two PDF fliers – Prevention & Symptoms] During an outbreak, it’s an all-hands-on-deck situation that finds Dan and Alissa alternating with others on their team to be on call for evening and weekends.
The Dawg Squad
Speaking of their team, it’s a group of eight members (six medical illustrators and two non-medical illustrators), five of whom are UGA alumni. Alissa explains that the world of medical illustration is a small one. A master’s degree in medical illustration is only offered by three accredited medical universities in the United States, and one in Canada. The path for many begins with the University of Georgia, specifically in the Lamar Dodd School of Art.
The UGA Connection
When Dan and Alissa attended the University of Georgia, the art school was in the mid-century modern building that now houses the College of Environment + Design on North Campus. (The art school’s main building is now located on East Campus.) Although they graduated more than a decade apart, they both reminiscence about late nights in the studio and walking through North Campus to go downtown to the art store.
Dan always had a passion for art and science. He took many undergraduate sciences courses and majored in graphic design through the art school, which wasn’t named for Lamar Dodd until 1996. He said his graphic design coursework prepared him for his role at the CDC because of its emphasis on layout and design to tell a story. His advice for students who wish to pursue a career like his? Pair graphic design courses with medical illustration to better understand the importance of establishing a hierarchy to the flow of information and learn how to lead the eye to help convey a story. He mentions Alex Murawski as a UGA professor who had a positive impact on him. After UGA, Dan enrolled at the University of Illinois in Chicago to pursue a Master in Biomedical Visualization. There, he took art classes, of course, but also courses like Gross Anatomy and Physiology alongside medical students.
Alissa majored in scientific illustration at UGA. She cites professor Gene Wright as a major influence in her time at Lamar Dodd. She credits the program with preparing her for graduate school and her eventual career at the CDC by emphasizing professionalism, presentation skills and directed studies that required hands-on work. She began at the CDC in 2006, right after completing her master’s degree in medical illustration from Medical College of Georgia. Her advice for anyone who wants to follow in her path? Get a background in both traditional and digital arts and become adept in two- and three-dimensional animation.
Dan and Alissa have worked together for 14 years. They sit across from one another at the CDC and collaborate on many projects, although it is rare that their images are turned around as fast as the COVID-19 one—or garner as much international attention.
In an email exchange, Lamar Dodd’s Kate Arnold conveyed to Alissa that the iconic image is now burned into her consciousness. She says she pictures it when deciding whether to touch something in the grocery store. Alissa loved hearing that. “That’s a perfect example of why we do this,” she says.
Asked if there was one message they would like to get out to the Bulldog Nation, Alissa said, “Hunker Down. Wait it out.” Dan adds, “Staying home is the most important thing.”
The Goal is Education
Helping people visualize the virus isn’t so much about accurately representing what it would look like under a microscope, but more about conveying why it is dangerous.
The virus can’t reproduce on its own. The virus hijacks healthy host cells, and it is these pirated cells that reproduce the virus. The image is intended to visually explain how that occurs.
Spike or S proteins – these are the spikey red protrusions in the image. These clumps of proteins attach the virus onto the host cell. It is these spikes that create the halo, or corona, around the virus. Alissa and Dan decided to highlight the S protein with the red color and plentiful number in the image because the barbs best communicate how the virus latches onto a healthy cell.
Envelope or E Proteins – these are the yellow specks in the image. They represent the smallest of the three main proteins that make up the virus. It is these proteins that channel through the membrane to gain access into the healthy cell.
Membrane or M Proteins – these are the orange crumbs in the image. They are the most abundant of the three proteins, they give form to the virus. This protein fuses with the membrane of the healthy cell.
Body – the gray surface in the image. This represents the envelope that surrounds the nucleus of the virus. Dan and Alissa decided to create a shadowy, highly textured surface that almost invites touch. Implying a tactile experience helps an abstract concept seem more concrete.
The most important thing to know about the virus is that it cannot spread on its own. People spread it.
Visit the CDC website to learn more. Discover more about UGA’s role in battling COVID-19, and visit UGA’s COVID-19 Information and Resources page to access a wealth of information gathered in one place.
We caught up with Chuck McCarthy (AB ’03), artist, actor and founder of The People Walker, to talk about how his UGA experience led him to an unexpected, but satisfying, career path. McCarthy’s one-of-a-kind business is a combination of the services provided by a personal trainer and a dog walker. The People Walker’s mission is to connect people who want to go on a walk with walking partners.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to go into medicine because my grandfather was a doctor. I originally started school as a pre-med major but then went into the art school. I didn’t know what I specifically wanted to be, but I knew I had to do something creative. Art school prepared me for life because it was so subjective. There was no right or wrong answer for most things in the art world. That’s true for a lot of things when you graduate.
Walk me through the foundation of your business, The People Walker. Tell me about the very first moment this brilliant idea came about.
At first, the idea came up as a joke. I was looking for a way to make money while getting more exercise, so I thought about being a dog walker. But I didn’t want to pick up dog poop. There’s a lot of personal trainers and dog walkers in Los Angeles, so I thought maybe I’ll just start walking with people.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there were people who would want or need this service. People could use my company for two services: motivation and safety. We know that we need exercise but it can be hard to motivate ourselves to walk. Even the most motivated people need someone to hold themselves accountable. Then, safety was also an essential service. A few years ago, my mom went on a walk alone in the woods and fell. She broke her leg in about seven different places. People need safety from falling down, being alone, being cat-called or being bothered by others.
What is your favorite thing to do in Los Angeles?
I love to go on hikes. Even with all the walking I do, I still find myself finding new paths in the park that I live next to. You feel like an explorer when you find new places by yourself. There’s a book about a lot of the secret stairs here in L.A. but I’ve been reluctant to read it because I want to find them myself.
What advice would you give to graduating seniors and recent graduates?
Find a job and don’t be scared to do something that isn’t exactly what you want to do. But, don’t feel like you have to stay in that job. A lot of times, people discover that they are working at a job that can lead to other opportunities. Get your foot in the door, but don’t get your foot stuck in the door. That sounds like a good saying, right?
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken that resulted in the most rewarding outcome?
Moving to California was a pretty big risk. It led to the life that I live today.
What do you know for sure?
There are always gonna be problems in life. But life is really about trying to deal with those problems. It’s always easier to deal with those problems if you have the help and support from other people.
What will you never understand?
Why someone would go anywhere other than UGA.
Is there anything you wish you could change when looking back at your career decisions?
No, because I think that everything you do leads to the next part of your life. You can’t be in this moment right now in your life without having made the mistakes that you’ve made, the wins that you’ve had and the right decisions you’ve made – you went to the high school, you went to and played whatever sports you did as a kid. Whether or not you won or lost a game, passed or failed the test, or lost money or made money that has led up to where you are in your life. You can’t really get rid of one thing without getting rid of everything else.