2024 GDUSA Top Design Schools: How Susquehanna University Shaped My Path in Graphic Design

Cross Creative celebrates Susquehanna University's inclusion in GDUSA's 2024 Top Design Schools

When I think back to the days before college, I didn’t even know what graphic design was, much less that you could build a career around it. I was a creative kid from a blue-collar town, unsure of what lay beyond high school until a football scholarship landed me at Susquehanna University. Little did I know, this twist of fate would steer me towards my passion and future profession in graphic design.

Susquehanna University, nestled in Selinsgrove, PA, was where I unwittingly began my design journey. Drifting through my first semester, unsure of where to focus, I stumbled into a graphic design course. This wasn’t just another class; it resonated with me deeply. At the time, graphic design wasn’t even an official major, but my professor, Mark Fertig, saw potential in the field and in me. He promised it would become a major by the time I graduated, and he was right.

The small, informal classes meant I practically had one-on-one mentorship with Mark. We spent countless hours in the computer lab, where I honed my craft under his guidance. His passion for design was infectious, and he demanded nothing less than our best. Mark wasn’t just a teacher; he was a mentor and a pivotal figure in my life. His connections helped me secure a job before I even graduated, a testament to his belief in his students and the power of a strong network.


Book cover designs a collection of Ernest Hemingway novels

Mark Fertig’s legacy continues through his students and colleagues like Amanda Lenig, a former classmate who now chairs the Department of Art + Design at Susquehanna. Under her leadership, the program has flourished, recently earning recognition from Graphic Design USA Magazine (GDUSA) as a top design school for 2024. It’s a significant achievement, considering the competition includes some of the biggest names in higher education.

The core philosophy of Susquehanna’s Graphic Design program is simple yet profound: “Process and concept are king. Hard work is the reality, talent is the illusion. See everything. Solve the problem. Give a damn.” This ethos has nurtured a community of designers who are reshaping the design landscape through rigorous, real-world projects. These projects not only build competitive portfolios but also prepare students for the demanding and dynamic field of graphic design.

Offering both a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and a Bachelor of Arts (BA), the program caters to a wide range of aspirations. Whether students aim for a career in creative industries or want to enhance another major with design skills, Susquehanna equips them with the expertise and connections to thrive. The result is a robust alumni network of professionals working across top agencies and companies nationwide.

Education at Susquehanna was more than just academic; it was transformative. It launched my career and shaped me into the designer—and the person—I am today. As the founder of Cross Creative, I extend my deepest gratitude to the program and to mentors like Mark Fertig. Congratulations to Amanda Lenig on her well-deserved accolade, and best of luck to all current and future students of the program.

GDUSA names the top design schools

At Cross Creative, we value the strong foundation that Susquehanna provides in the design field. We have had the pleasure of collaborating with several Susquehanna graduates, and their exceptional skills and professionalism speak volumes about the quality of education they received. Their work is proof of the program’s excellence.

As we continue to grow and seek new talent, we are particularly keen on offering internships and career opportunities to graduates. We believe in nurturing new talent and providing them with the tools and opportunities to succeed in this vibrant industry.

Thank you, Susquehanna, for shaping the futures of so many talented designers, including mine. Here’s to continuing excellence in education and to the endless possibilities that lie ahead for its graduates.

Shining a Light on Success: Cross Creative Partners with the Lion Foundation

Cross Creative is excited to be a proud sponsor of the Lion Foundation

Every year, the Lion Foundation ignites the spirit of community in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, by hosting an annual gala in support of the Camp Hill School District. This year, Cross Creative was honored to partner with them, helping transform their “Dark Nights. Bright Lights.” theme into a night of dazzling impact.

Cross Creative helped sponsor the Lion Foundation Winter Gala
Example signage for the Lion Foundation winter gala by Cross Creative

From Vision to Impact

Collaborating closely with Sarah DeBrunner, Jess Byerly, Brant Underwood, Raven Ross, Shari Sponic, and Kelly Falck from the Lion Foundation, we embarked on a creative journey. Together, we crafted a captivating visual identity that captured the essence of the theme—highlighting the challenges faced by youth while showcasing the unwavering support and bright future ahead.

Our collaboration went beyond just aesthetics. We produced a comprehensive design package, including:
  • A captivating main theme logo and graphics: Setting the tone for the event and resonating with guests.
  • Engaging pre-event materials: Social media posts and local signage built anticipation and encouraged participation.
  • Seamless program, signage, and presentations: Guiding guests through the evening and reinforcing the event’s message.
Cross Creative helped develop the onsite materials for the Lion Foundation Gala

Beyond Design, Supporting the Cause

Cross Creative is deeply committed to giving back to our community. As a local Camp Hill business, we were proud to not only offer our design expertise but also sponsor various event items. Contributing to the success of the gala and ultimately, supporting the education of Camp Hill students, brought us great joy.

Huge shout out to the Camp Hill High School Girl's Basketball for setting up.
The Camp Hill School District is fortunate to the staff of the Lion Foundation for putting on the event.
Huge shout out to the Camp Hill High School Boy's Football and Basketball teams for setting up.

Light Up Your Next Event

At Cross Creative, we believe in the power of design to elevate events, spark engagement, and create lasting memories. We’re passionate about collaborating with organizations like the Lion Foundation to achieve their goals and positively impact the community.

Is your Central Pennsylvania event ready to shine? 

Contact Cross Creative today to discuss how we can bring your vision to life. We’ll help you capture the essence of your theme, develop impactful materials, and ultimately, achieve remarkable outcomes. Together, let’s turn even the darkest nights into bright lights for our community.

Confessions of Design Business Owner: A Presentation to Susquehanna University

Chris Ross talks business with the graphic design students of Susquehanna University.
Chris talking to the Susquehanna University students about self-promotion.

As I walked into the classroom at Susquehanna University, memories flooded back of my days as a young designer, soaking up everything I could from my mentor Mark Fertig, and eager to make my mark on the world. Little did I know then the twists and turns my career would take, leading me to where I stand today as the owner of Cross Creative. I was privileged to be invited to speak to the budding designers of the “Business of Design” course, and I approached the opportunity with both excitement and humility.

The atmosphere in the room was electric as I began to share my unexpected career path with the students. From my humble beginnings as an entry-level designer in Washington, DC., to running the creative department at Human Longevity, Inc., to the challenges and triumphs of entrepreneurship, I spared no detail. I shared anecdotes from my journey, sprinkling in words of wisdom gleaned from years of experience in the industry.

Chris encouraging studnets to take control of their careers

But what truly made the experience special was the engagement of the students. They asked question after question, eager to soak up every ounce of knowledge I had to offer. It was inspiring to see their passion for design and their hunger for success. A big thanks to the Chair of the Department of Art and Design Amanda Lenig (a former classmate and frequent collaborator) for extending the invitation. Our reunion added an extra layer of joy to an already unforgettable day.

The talk was designed to empowered the students to take charge of their own careers, urging them to be ready to tackle anything and everything that comes their way. It emphasized the importance of resilience, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace the unknown. And of course, no presentation would be complete without a sweet treat—I made sure to bring along donuts.

As I left the classroom, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of fulfillment. To have the opportunity to inspire the next generation of designers was a privilege beyond words. And as I reflected on the day’s events, I thought about Mark, and I was reminded once again of the power of mentorship, connection, and the unwavering belief in oneself. 

To the students of Susquehanna University, I say this: embrace your journey, seize every opportunity, and never underestimate the impact you can make on the world. The future belongs to you, and I have no doubt that you will soar to great heights in your careers. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll find yourself standing in front of a classroom, sharing your own story of success.

Building a Strong Brand for Genetic Athletics

Cross Creative worked with Genetic Athletics in Maplewood, MO to establish a strong brand.
Cross Creative designed a bold logo using a double helix.

We partnered with Genetic Athletics, a personal training company transforming lives through unique, genetically-tailored training plans. Our mission was to craft a brand identity that reflected their personalized approach and empowered individuals seeking dramatic physical transformations.

Brochure Design by Cross Creative
Brochure interior by Cross Creative

Key Strategies

  • Logo Design: A bold, double-helix “G” logo symbolizes the fusion of genetics and personalized training. This dynamic mark conveys innovation and a unique approach to fitness.
  • Modern and Bold Aesthetic: We created a visually impactful brand experience through bold graphics, vibrant colors, and dynamic imagery. This design language embodies energy, progress, and achieving peak performance.
  • Rallying Cry: We infused the brand with a motivational voice, inspiring individuals to break barriers and unlock their full potential.
Kiosk Advertising for Genetic Athletics
Kiosk Advertising for Genetic Athletics
Kiosk Advertising for Genetic Athletics

Impactful Deliverables

  • Logo & Brand Guidelines: A strong foundation for consistent brand application across all touchpoints.
  • Graphic Design Materials: Flyers, social media content, on-site graphics, and advertising that engage and attract target audiences.
  • Cohesive Brand Experience: A unified message across all platforms, driving awareness and engagement.


Genetic Athletics now boasts a modern, bold brand that effectively communicates their innovative approach to personalized training. This impactful identity empowers individuals to unleash their potential and achieve their fitness goals, driving business growth and success.

Rebranding the J. Craig Venter Institute: Foundation of Innovation

JCVI approached Cross Creative to help with a complete branding overhaul
The original JCVI logo had a lot of brand equity. We wanted to carry that over into the new logo.
There are plenty of examples where the acronym JCVI is used in the company’s lexicon and within the industry—this arrangement makes it official.

The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) embarked on a comprehensive rebranding journey, aiming to capture its spirit of innovation and solidify its position as a global leader in genomic and bioinformatics research. This transformation centered around the concept of the “Foundation of Innovation,” embodied by the institute’s own building—a seamless blend of scientific vision, purpose, and technology.

  1. Key Elements of the Rebrand
  • Logo Refresh: A modernized logo reflecting the institute’s forward-thinking approach.
  • Complete Graphics Package Overhaul: Consistent visual language across all mediums, reinforcing the brand identity.
  • Website Redesign: A modern website showcasing JCVI’s research and its potential impact, featuring:
  • Latest website trends: User-friendly and visually appealing design aligned with contemporary expectations.
  • Compelling photography: Images that humanize the science and illustrate its real-world implications.
  • Sophistication and relatability: Striking a balance between scientific accuracy and emotional connection.
  • Updated color palette: Vibrant yet refined colors reflecting optimism and progress.
  • Carefully curated content: Highlighting JCVI’s leading-edge research and its potential to benefit all forms of life.

You can view the JCVI website here

Overall Goals

  • Elicit an emotional response: Captivate the audience and build a deeper connection with the institute’s mission. This is an effort to help encourage donors to contribute to JCVI projects.
  • Establish JCVI as a world leader: Reinforce their position at the forefront of genomic and bioinformatics research.
  • Showcase the human impact: Underscore the tangible benefits of their scientific advancements.
Cross Creative develops mood board for all clients to help set the tone for each project


The rebrand successfully translated the essence of JCVI’s innovative spirit into a cohesive brand identity. By combining modern design trends with impactful visuals and thoughtful messaging, the institute effectively communicated its purpose and resonated with a wider audience. This strategic transformation positioned JCVI for continued success as a leader in its field, inspiring and engaging stakeholders through its unwavering commitment to groundbreaking research.

Cumberland County’s Population Boom and the Need for Creative Branding

Cross Creative stands ready to assist new businesses in the growing Cumberland County, PA.

Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, is experiencing a population surge like never before. As more people flock to the area, businesses are sprouting up to meet the growing demand. With this influx of residents and entrepreneurs, the need for a robust brand presence has never been more critical.


The Business Boom and the Graphic Design Advantage

The population growth in Cumberland County signals not only an increase in potential customers but also a rise in competition. In this thriving environment, a new business needs to stand out to make a lasting impression. This is where the expertise of a graphic design agency becomes invaluable.

Why Graphic Design Matters for New Businesses

First Impressions Count: In a crowded market, a visually striking brand is essential to capture the attention of potential customers. Graphic design shapes the first impression, conveying professionalism and credibility.

  • First Impressions Count: In a crowded market, a visually striking brand is essential to capture the attention of potential customers. Graphic design shapes the first impression, conveying professionalism and credibility.
  • Memorability: A well-crafted logo and consistent branding create a memorable image for your business. In a community teeming with options, being memorable is the key to brand recall.
  • Building Trust: Quality design instills trust. Consumers are more likely to trust a business with a polished and cohesive brand presence. It signals that you care about your image, and by extension, your customers.
  • Communication: Effective design communicates your brand story visually. It communicates your values, mission, and uniqueness, fostering a connection with your target audience.

Cross Creative: Crafting Your Brand in Cumberland’s Growth Spurt

This is where Cross Creative steps in. As Cumberland County flourishes, Cross Creative is poised to help new businesses carve their niche in this dynamic landscape. Here’s how:

  • Strategic Branding: Cross Creative goes beyond aesthetics; we dive into the core of your business to understand its essence. We craft brands that not only look good but authentically represent your values and resonate with your audience.
  • Comprehensive Design Services: Whether it’s designing eye-catching logos, creating cohesive marketing materials, or developing a user-friendly website, our design services cover all aspects of establishing a powerful brand presence.
  • Adaptability: In a growing community, staying relevant is crucial. Cross Creative’s adaptable approach ensures that your brand remains fresh, dynamic, and aligned with the evolving needs of Cumberland County’s diverse population.
  • Local Understanding: Being a part of Cumberland County ourselves, we understand the unique characteristics of the community. This local insight allows us to tailor designs that specifically appeal to the local demographic.

As Cumberland County experiences a surge in population and businesses, the importance of a strong brand presence cannot be overstated. Cross Creative stands ready to assist new businesses in navigating this growth, ensuring they not only keep pace but lead the way in establishing a distinctive and memorable brand presence in this thriving community.

Wild Waters, Wild Rebrand: The Adventure Company Makes a Splash

Cross Creative helps the Adventure Company navigate a rebrand.

The Adventure Company, a beloved white water rafting company in Colorado, came to us looking for a refresh. Their existing brand felt tired and didn’t capture the fun and playful spirit of their company culture. They needed a new logo, website, and supporting materials that would attract customers and reflect their unique selling proposition.

Cross Creative developed a unique logo to the Adventure Company

We started by conducting in-depth interviews with the Adventure Company team and their customers. We wanted to understand what made them special and what they hoped to achieve with the rebrand. We also researched the competitive landscape of Colorado white water rafting companies.

From our research, we learned that the Adventure Company was known for its friendly and experienced guides, its commitment to safety, and its focus on creating unforgettable experiences for its customers. We also learned that they had a strong sense of community and loved to have fun.

Based on our findings, we developed a new brand strategy that emphasized the Adventure Company’s fun and playful personality. We also wanted to create a brand that felt authentic and unique to Colorado.

The Adventure Company wanted to incorporate their tagline "Serious Fun Since 1987" into their brand graphics
The Adventure Company incorporated their acronym "TAC" into their brand graphics
The Adventure Company wanted a crest for their brand graphics
The "Drop" is the keystone element for the Adventure Company brand graphics

The Logo Redesign

The new logo is an evolution of the original logo. It keeps the water drop from the original logo, but it has a more playful and modern feel. The type treatment is bold and quirky, and it reflects the company’s fun-loving personality.

The Website Redesign

The new website is designed to be user-friendly and easy to navigate. It features large, high-quality photos and videos that showcase the beauty of Colorado’s rivers and the excitement of white water rafting. The website also has a strong focus on storytelling, with pages that share the stories of the Adventure Company’s guides and customers.

Supporting Materials

We also developed a new line of apparel and brochures for the Adventure Company. The apparel features the new logo and fun, adventure-themed graphics. The brochures are designed to be informative and engaging, and they provide potential customers with everything they need to know about booking a trip with the Adventure Company.

Cross Creative helped the Adventure Company with their drip… we mean apparel.
Cross Creative helped boost the user experience on the Adventure Company website

The Results

The Adventure Company’s rebrand has been a success. The new logo, website, and supporting materials have helped the company to attract new customers and to position itself as the premier white water rafting company in Colorado. The company has also seen an increase in employee morale and brand loyalty.

We are proud of the work we did on the Adventure Company rebrand. We believe that we have created a brand that is fun, playful, and authentic to the company’s values. We hope that the new brand will help the Adventure Company to continue to grow and thrive for many years to come.

Exocel Bio Rebranding: A Fresh Look for the Future of Regenerative Aesthetics

Cross Creative helped Exocel Bio, an regenerative aesthetics company, with their product rebrand.

Exocel Bio, a company pioneering the use of exosomes for skin and hair rejuvenation, embarked on a comprehensive rebranding journey. This strategic move aimed to elevate their brand identity, better connect with their target audience, and solidify their position as a leader in the rapidly evolving field of regenerative aesthetics.

Cross Creative Exovex Logo Rebrand Option 1
Cross Creative Exovex Logo Rebrand Option 2
Cross Creative Exovex Logo Rebrand Option 3
Cross Creative Exovex Logo Rebrand Option 4. This is the selected option.

Logo Refresh and Graphics Package Overhaul

Exocel Bio has a product line called Exovex for skin and hair rejuvenation. The existing product logo, while conveying a sense of scientific expertise, lacked memorability and emotional connection. The rebranding process began with deconstructing the core brand values and identifying key differentiators. This led to the development of a new logo that is:

The updated Exovex logo features a serif typeface exudes a timeless sophistication, reminiscent of established luxury brands. The delicate serifs add depth and character, suggesting refinement and craftsmanship.

The luxury experience of Exovex transcends the logo and spills over into a sensory feast with its packaging. Drawing inspiration from the grandeur of ancient Greece, the team masterfully crafted a marble-textured canvas that elevates Exovex to an object of desire.

In the burgeoning field of regenerative aesthetics, Exocel Bio’s Exovex product line stands out not just for its cutting-edge science but also for its exquisitely crafted luxury experience. This unique blend sets Exovex apart from competitors, positioning it as the go-to choice for discerning individuals seeking transformative results within a pampering, elevated atmosphere.

Cross Creative designed the packaging from Exocel Bio's Exovex product line.
Cross Creative helped Exocel Bio with their brand overhaul.

Website Design and User Experience

Intuitive Navigation and Information Architecture: The Exocel Bio website was redesigned with a focus on user experience. A clean and uncluttered layout makes it easy for visitors to find the information they need. The navigation is intuitive and logical, guiding users through the brand story, product offerings, and scientific underpinnings.

Compelling Storytelling and Education: The website serves as a platform to educate potential customers about exosome technology and its benefits for skin and hair rejuvenation. Engaging visuals, informative content, and patient testimonials bring the Exocel Bio story to life and build trust with the audience.

Responsive Design and Accessibility: The website is optimized for viewing on all devices, ensuring a seamless experience for desktop, mobile, and tablet users. Accessibility features are also incorporated to cater to a wider audience.

View Exocel Bio’s website here

Ongoing Design Support

Maintaining Brand Consistency: The rebranding process was not a one-time effort. Exocel Bio has partnered with a design agency to provide ongoing support, ensuring brand consistency across all marketing materials, social media platforms, and future product launches.

Adapting to Market Trends: The design team also works closely with Exocel Bio to stay ahead of industry trends and adapt the brand visuals as needed. This ensures that the brand remains fresh, relevant, and competitive in the dynamic field of regenerative aesthetics.

Cross Creative helped develop Exocel Bio's booth to boost their corporate event presence.

The Impact of Rebranding

Exocel Bio’s rebranding has been met with positive feedback from customers, partners, and industry experts. The new visual identity has helped to:

  • Increase brand awareness and recognition
  • Attract new customers and investors
  • Solidify Exocel Bio’s position as a leader in the regenerative aesthetics market
  • Create a strong foundation for future growth

Exocel Bio’s rebranding journey is a testament to the power of design in shaping brand perception and driving business success. By taking a strategic and holistic approach, they have created a compelling brand identity that reflects their values, resonates with their target audience, and positions them for long-term growth in the exciting field of regenerative aesthetics.

Cross Creative Ignites Creativity at Camp Hill Elementary’s STEAM Day

Students learning about graphic design from Cross Creative at STEAM Day

At Cross Creative, we believe in fostering creativity from an early age, and what better way to do it than through a hands-on demonstration of art and technology? We were thrilled to be part of the Camp Hill Elementary School’s STEAM Day on Friday, October 20,2023, where Ashley Murphy and Chris Ross of Cross Creative brought a fusion of imagination and technology to the students.

Art, Technology, and Imagination Unleashed

Our demonstration was a dynamic showcase of the intersection between art and technology. We had a plethora of materials and cutting-edge tech gadgets to captivate the young minds and showcase the endless possibilities when creativity meets innovation.

Student rendering his logo on Cross Creative's drawing tablet.

Designing Logos for Fictitious Companies

The highlight of our engagement was an interactive activity designed to engage the students’ creative instincts. Each child was given the opportunity to design a logo for one of three fictitious companies, each with its unique name and a brief summary of their services.

The enthusiasm in the room was palpable as the students delved into the world of design, interpreting the needs of their assigned companies and translating those insights into visually compelling logos.

Submitting Artwork and the Contest Thrill

To make it even more exciting, we set up a submission process through a QR code and an online form. The students submitted their artwork digitally, creating a seamless and modern experience. The added bonus? Every submission automatically entered the talented artists into a contest to win a free Cross Creative T-shirt.

Choosing a Winner. No Easy Task

Reviewing the submissions was a delightful challenge. The creativity and thoughtfulness poured into each design were truly commendable. Choosing a winner proved to be no easy task, as each entry showcased unique perspectives and inventive designs.

Looking to the Future

Our day at Camp Hill Elementary was an absolute joy, and we’re hopeful that the students had as much fun as we did. The level of creativity and talent we witnessed from these young minds left us genuinely impressed. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for an invitation back next year to continue nurturing the artistic spirits of the next generation.

Stay Inspired with Cross Creative

At Cross Creative, we’re not just about designs; we’re about inspiring creativity. Our participation in events like Camp Hill Elementary’s STEAM Day reflects our commitment to fostering innovation and imagination. We look forward to more opportunities to ignite creativity and make a positive impact in the communities we serve. Keep an eye on our updates, and who knows, we might be bringing our art and tech fusion to your neighborhood next!

Camp Hill student working on his Cross Creative logo
Talking shop with the big man at STEAM Day
Cross Creative made a special logo just for STEAM Day