Arthur Thao, Art

Where are you from, and what brought you to UW–Madison?

I am from Manitowoc, Wisconsin. UW–Madison had always been my No. 1 college pick to attend as a child. A majority of my siblings are UW–Madison alumni as well, so that played a part in why I wanted to become a Badger. 

How did you choose your major?

When applying to UW–Madison, I knew from the start that I wanted to go into graphic design. As a film lover as well, I guess my inspiration came from paying close attention to how movie posters looked, and I was intrigued by this art and design form of advertising. 

What was your most meaningful experience at UW–Madison? 

I was blessed to work at StudentPrint and given the opportunity to design the 2020-2021 ASM Bus Pass, which reached over 40,000 UW–Madison students! This was a major achievement of mine for being able to leave my mark here at the university as a first-generation, Hmong-American student.  

What class or professor had the greatest impact on you, and why?

It’s honestly hard to pick one class or professor. All of the courses I’ve taken have impacted the way I create. Shout-outs to Professor Henrique Nardi, Professor Yeohyun Ahn, and Professor Dennis Miller who have all taught me so much in the graphic design field. I experienced and gained so much knowledge and disciplines from all three of these amazing professors.

The student bus pass designed by 2020 graduate Arthur Thao.

Tomiko Jones was my photography instructor, and she has inspired me to continue to take photos wherever I go. Brian Kluge opened my eyes to appreciate ceramics, a physical medium I didn’t expect to be so therapeutic. Derrick Buisch encouraged me to form my own style of painting. Leslie Smith III and Fred Stonehouse continued to inspire me to draw, a medium that piqued my love for art.  

What advice would you give to incoming students? 

For students in the Art Department, continue to explore different courses the Art Department has to offer! Each professor/instructor has so much passion for what they do, so learning from these professionals will give you a better idea on finding your calling. To all my underclassmen, especially to my fellow students of color: Work hard and never give up on what you love doing. Keep striving and keep thriving. I see you! 

You’re a UW–Madison expert now, so we must ask: Which is the best Babcock ice cream flavor?

Technically not ice cream, but I highly recommend the pomegranate Greek frozen yogurt, which is a limited-time flavor. Otherwise, my go-to flavor is always strawberry. I know, I’m basic.

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