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Meet Wendela Stjernswärd, European Student and Graphic Design SIS Alumna

Wendela Stjernswärd

Meet Wendela Stjernswärd, aspiring graphic designer and College/Adult Summer Intensive Studies (SIS)  alumna! Originally from Stockholm, Sweden, Wendela currently studies at Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, Holland. She completed our Parsons Academy SIS graphic design program in 2020 and recently spoke to us about the importance of a creative education, her favorite projects at Parsons, and her experience as an international student.

What was your educational background before starting SIS?

I’ve always been interested in the creative direction – that was the only thing I wanted to do. I’m originally from Stockholm; I studied visual communication there and took some art courses. I started to try different things.

How did you hear about us?

I came to New York and [a friend’s] daughter went to Parsons for fashion design. It inspired me a lot and it was an eye opener - It’s so much more than this little art school in Stockholm. I came back to Sweden during the pandemic and I couldn’t let Parsons go out of my brain. I wanted to continue my creative development.

What made the SIS program stand out to you?

I thought, “this is a once-in-a lifetime thing.” I couldn’t have been doing it if it wasn’t online, so that was perfect for me. When it comes to creative things, you can’t have enough education. It ended up being super intense, it was perfect. It was so fun. I couldn’t really do anything else and that was perfect because I didn’t want to do anything else.

Wendela Stjernswärd

Wendela said the SIS program broadened her perspectives with illustration.

What were your classmates like?

It was very interesting to meet people who studied different things. I was the only one who had graphic design experience, but helping other people also helped me. We discussed things from other points of views. I was the only one from Europe, there was one student from India, one from Canada. You know, life also happens during these three weeks… We got to have deeper conversations in smaller groups. If you talk to the same people, you don’t get new perspectives of things. It being online, it was more controlled in that way.

It was not about it being a competition; everyone was in the same situation. I need to discuss my design process with people. That was something that I missed and that I got here. It was adaptive to everyone, that was something I really appreciated. We learned from each other.

Wendela Stjernswärd

One of Wendela's more commercial open projects.

How was SIS different from other programs you’ve taken?

With art it’s hard to say what’s right or wrong. It was more of a discussion. I’m used to having a lot of different teachers but with [instructor Wendy Letven] I got this precise feedback. That was something I really liked – having one teacher that could focus 100% on each student. That was a better way of being engaged and more personal.

What were the online classes like as an international student?

Even though I had high expectations because Parsons was a dream school of mine, I didn’t know what to expect from online. It was so well planned for every day. I couldn’t do anything else because I had to prepare for the next day!

I was a bit worried about the time difference but I started at 5 p.m. and then was done at 11 p.m., then I had the whole next day to prepare. It was a lot to take in each class so it was nice going to bed and processing it.

Wendela Stjernswärd

Wendela's "Design for Change" project, which was a collaboration with The Met.

How did SIS help you in your college program and overall career?

I had the opportunity to try everything. The “Design for Change” project had me thinking in a conceptual way with a commercial perspective. I realized I liked the commercial perspective more and found ways to add the more artsy things into commercial. Without the Parsons course, I don’t think I would’ve figured that out. I’m now focusing on commercial practice and social practice.

It was a very developing way of thinking: taking things going on in the world and applying it to art, and how you can change things with art. It broadened my perspective with illustration… I have now discovered the illustration part a little bit more.

Follow Wendela on Instagram: @W.stjernsward.

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