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Morehead State art program prepared Juan Dontrese Brown for career in creative design

embedded-news-juan-dontrese-brown.webpJuan Dontrese Brown (Class of 1998) is a proud Morehead State Eagle who soars as a designer, creator and leader.

Brown is a former director of brand creative at Capital One and former creative director of Marketing at Victorinox/Swiss Army Knife Inc. Now a sought-after public speaker, he is making a difference through design with his company Hidden in Plain Site.

Hidden in Plain Site is a virtual reality exploration of several lesser-known historical sites that tell the story and history of the Black experience in America. Brown lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Originally from Louisville, Brown enrolled at Georgetown College with aspirations to attend college on an athletic scholarship and pursue a career as a traditional artist.

“I thought I was going to be an abstract painter, traveling Europe, speaking French with a beret. Honestly,” Brown said, laughing.

During his sophomore year, Brown was in an art class with a guest speaker on graphic design that inspired him. In collaboration with the late art professor Jim McCormick, he helped build the curriculum that would become Georgetown College’s graphic design program, with Brown as its first official graduate.

He then enrolled at Morehead State to pursue a graduate degree in art. He said the talent level of the MSU faculty helped to push him to become a better artist. He was challenged to improve and step up his artistic game by the late Deeno Golding, who Brown said was the first black male teacher he ever had as a student, and he thought of as a father figure. Professor of Art Gary Mesa-Gaido helped him expand his boundaries as an interdisciplinary artist and designer and ended up attending Brown’s wedding years after he graduated from MSU.

The bonds he formed with his MSU instructors are connections he treasures to this day.

“Just to see their intentionality in making sure they connected with us and showed that they cared for us was tremendous,” Brown said. “These are relationships that I will never let go of. They are just so strong.”

After graduating from MSU, he went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art & Design and work as a professional graphic designer.

Brown’s career is coming full circle. He’s giving back to his undergraduate alma mater in a considerable way.

When he returned to Georgetown College to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, he was asked help with a new marketing campaign, which he said is “a testament to the transformative power of education and the importance of giving back to our communities.”

He is working with Georgetown College on its new campaign and tagline, “The Six Foundational Pillars.” He'll be on campus to help launch the campaign in April.

“The education I received at Georgetown, Morehead State University, and the Savannah College of Art and Design has contributed to me becoming a leader in the space of storytelling, creative marketing, branding strategy, business acumen, community engagement, and social impact,” he said.

Learn more about programs in the Department of Communication, Media, Art & Design by emailing or calling 606-783-2766.

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