Karolina Novitska, Class of 2006

Adobe Design Achievement Award winner, avid traveler, aspiring linguist, and student of the salsa dance

Advice to incoming students: Don’t get intimidated by open-ended projects. Use these opportunities to explore a subject you are passionate about. Get inspired by the tremendous intellectual resources the professors provide. Don’t lose focus and embrace failure and confusion and you will be surprised at the creative thinking that can transpire when your mind is most uncomfortable.

Before moving to the United States in 1996, Karolina Novitska and her family traveled from Ukraine to England where she began learning English. While she eventually succeeded in her primary goal and speaks fluent English, the experience left a strong impression on her. Something from the stale and rigid classroom environment inspired her, nearly a decade later, to begin thinking about the intersection of new media and languages. In her thesis, forWordPlay: Experiential Learning of a Foreign Language via Interactive Play, Karolina explores the nature of playful activity and how it applies to learning new languages.

From the beginning of her thesis it is abundantly clear that Karolina takes play seriously. Within the first page of her introduction, in an attempt to outline a definition of the word play, she sites the work numerous theorists, psychologists, and academics. Later in the book she notes John Dewey and Jerome Bruner’s role in shaping her understanding of thought processes and how individuals learn. This backdrop of theoretical discourse allows her work to gracefully straddle two worlds: the playful and the serious.

In 2006, during her final year at the Dynamic Media Institute, Karolina won an Adobe Design Achievement Award in the Live Action Category for her project, Crossword. The short film is a series of over 2,000 still images exploring Alzheimer’s disease. The experience of watching her film is jarring: she quickly cuts from sequence to sequence, the camera frantically shakes as it zooms and pans, and at some points the soundtrack runs in reverse. Each visual element frames the emotional content of Karolina’s exploration of what it might feel like to have this disease.

It is this level of detail and curiosity that makes her work as a designer so poignant. Speaking about her creative influences, Karolina discusses how her ideas begin to take shape. “I usually get inspired by seeing and feeling new and unfamiliar perspectives. One of my favorite questions that sparks my imagination is ‘What if?’” In some sense, her decision to return to school was based partly on this question.

After graduating from Emanuel College, she became a designer for ReadyAbout Interactive, an agency specializing in corporate website design. Graduate school was an opportunity for Karolina to move outside the constraints of commercial design and to push herself to do more playful and experimental work. Her experience at the DMI program played a pivotal role in her development as a designer. “DMI was truly the hardest, but most impacting, educational experience of my life. Through working with the brilliant team of professors and advisors I have grown as a designer, as a thinker, and as a person.”

This growth can still be seen in her work as a Senior Designer at Boston Interactive, in her own freelance work at studioekara.com, and as an adjunct faculty member at MassArt. Whether she is playing the role of designer, consultant, or educator Karolina continues to ask “What if?”

Written by Dennis Ludvino

Karolina Novitska on www.dynamicmediainstitute.org

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