Alum pursues freelance art career in Boston


Submitted by McKenna Shuster

McKenna Shuster holding her camera in the chilly Boston snow

Arabella Villarroel, Staff Reporter

From Austin to Boston, graphic designer McKenna Shuster has had big dreams to travel, live the city life, and share her creativity and art with the world. She is pursuing her passion by starting her own small art business, and working as a graphic designer.

“I loved photography, but I kind of wanted to expand my capabilities and what I could do,” Shuster said. “So the next thing I thought about was, how about graphic design, maybe that’s something I could do.”

McKenna graduated from Vandegrift in 2014, and went on to study graphic design at Northeastern University in Boston where she graduated in 2018. She now is a full time freelancer based in Boston, and works for a couple companies, one being Simplr, where she does graphic design and marketing.

“I just always wanted to live in a big city, I had this desire to go to the East Coast, and as I started looking at schools, Northeastern really stuck out to me because it was right in the middle of Boston, and it’s got a really nice campus feel,” Shuster said. “I like adventure and I wanted to try something new. Boston is a perfect starter city if you’re just trying to get your feet wet, especially for students.”

While Shuster has enjoyed her time in Boston, she is already thinking about where she would like to go next.

“I plan on moving to New York, I’m hoping in the next five years or so. I’m trying to move to Hawaii, for a year, maybe two years,” Shuster said. “Then live in Hawaii and then I’ll come back to the mainland and hopefully at that point move to New York or maybe Chicago, that’s my short term plan so far.”

Her etsy shop is CMYKenna where she sells linocut prints, acrylic laser cut earrings, and more of her original artwork.

“Putting something out into the world is a very vulnerable act in itself like, I made this look,” Shuster said. “I’ve watched myself gain confidence in my art since launching my small business, my confidence levels are just night and day.”

Shuster thinks back to her time at Vandegrift and how it helped prepare her for the future. 

“Vandegrift gave me the tools, not necessarily for graphic design, but the tools if I don’t know how to do something I’m going to figure it out,” Shuster said. “I feel like high school and Vandergrift gave me the confidence to go forward.”

In high school she took art and photography classes, was in PALS and played  tennis.

“Ever since I’ve graduated college I’m continually pushing myself, like learning how to code, how to do other art things that I’m interested in, trying to expand my knowledge. I’ve learned that it’s really about self motivation, if you want to be successful, you got to find what you’re passionate about and go for it yourself.” 

McKenna continues to put her work out there, and is always expanding her horizons.

“If you’re not good at something, just keep doing it. If you like it, it doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad at it,” Shuster said. “If you’re having a blast, truly it does not matter what the outcome is, so much of it is about the journey of what you’re doing and what you’re learning along the way.”