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Meet The Penn State Senior Creating Custom Illustrations For The Class Of 2020

Like many seniors, Jocelyn Krotec was left with disappointment and sadness when Penn State announced it would hold a virtual commencement instead of an in-person ceremony this spring.

However, instead of giving in to the doom-and-gloom mindset, Krotec decided she wanted to spread some positivity among the senior class. Thanks to her artistic talent, she’s been doing just that by creating beautiful, personalized illustrations for soon-to-be graduates.

Krotec, who goes by @collegeillustrator on Instagram, is an early and elementary education major. With a heavy workload that consisted of student teaching and a part-time job, she considered her artwork more of a side hustle more than anything. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing classes to head online, she’s had more time to expand her business and sharpen her skills.

Initially, Krotec made her illustrations as holiday gifts for loved ones. She wanted to surprise them with something unique that they’d treasure for a long time. Last December, she opened her online Etsy shop and created an Instagram page to showcase her work.

Since then, Krotec has gone on to create dozens of personalized orders for many different occasions. She takes pride individually working with clients to create a truly unique piece of art.

“What I love about customizing each individual order, is that I get to work with someone else to create exactly what they want, so they also have a part in the process,” Krotec said. “I take my work very seriously and want to create something that fits [my clients’] desires, but also incorporating my best judgment and what I think I can achieve best.”

Recently, Krotec began creating a series of graduation illustrations. At first, she didn’t think that she’d have the time to make them due to student teaching. However, when Krotec realized she wouldn’t get to say a proper goodbye to her friends, she started to make them as a tribute.

“We said goodbye to each other as seniors without even knowing it,” Krotec said. “I wanted to find a way to celebrate our accomplishments and send some positive light their way during this time.”

When it was officially announced that commencement would take place virtually, Krotec decided to reach out to seniors through Facebook. From there, she began receiving more orders then she expected.

The illustrations have also had more of an impact than Krotec initially anticipated. She was surprised to find out her pictures were becoming substitutes for typical graduation photos.

“I have been told stories about those who are first-generation graduates, and [they] were so thankful for their design because they were not given the opportunity to take graduation photos,” Krotec said.

Although she’s not currently shipping physical copies of her work, you can find Krotec on Instagram and visit her online shop if you’re interested in purchasing a custom illustration.

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About the Author

Alysa Rubin

Alysa was Onward State's visual editor. She's one of many "just outside of Philly" folks at Penn State and yes, she's an obnoxious Philly sports fan. Alysa loves her camera, hiking, a good soft pretzel, and eating her way through Wawa. She's also a proud mom to a cat named Comet. Follow @arubin241 on Twitter to keep up with what she sees through her lens (and for a funny retweet or two).

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