Graphic Design Student Mari Mihai Designs UMN Holiday E-Card

[The following is an excerpt from a UMNews feature by Deane Morrison. To read the entire article, please click here.]

In this, their first winter as the U of M presidential couple, Karen and Eric Kaler sent a colorful, animated seasonal ecard to the extended University community.

If you’ve seen it, you may have assumed the design was professionally done.

In fact, it was the work of two U of M students: Mari Mihai, a third-year graphic design undergrad, and Adam Zahller Brown, a first-year grad student in music composition.

The 30-second ecard gave the two a real chance to shine. Complete with falling snow, a snow globe, a crackling fire, and a crescendo of holiday-evoking music, it went out to faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents of students, and selected friends–more than 100,000 people in all.

Born to draw

Mihai’s story begins in Romania, where she was born about 10 months after the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. When she was 8, her mother won a visa lottery for the United States or Canada. Her father picked the Twin Cities as “a great place to raise a family,” which by then included a younger sister, Oana.

Today her father is an electronic design engineer at Sensata Technologies. Design must run in the family, as his father was a painter and Oana is also studying graphic design at the U.

Mihai chose the U for two reasons: reputation and location.

“I knew I wanted graphic design, but I didn’t want to go out of state. I wanted to be near my family because we’ve shared so much,” says Mihai, who has a College of Design Legacy Scholarship, among others, and is in the honors program.

She began the card design by sketching an interior scene with a fireplace and mantel and scanning it into a computer. She then painted it and, on a suggestion from the Kalers, added images of all five University campus mascots as mantel portraits.

“I got advice from lots of people [from around the University],” she says. “It’s exciting because the card goes to so many people.”

[To continue reading this UMNews feature, visit them online here.]