Student Stories: Mirjana Ursulesku

Mirjana Ursulesku

Major: Graphic Design

Since she was a young girl in Northern Bosnia, Mirjana Ursulesku has studied fine arts and has spent years as a professional visual artist before enrolling at COD.

“I enrolled in a few classes at College of DuPage and absolutely fell in love,” she said. “College of DuPage was a natural choice since it’s near where I live. As a mother of two, finding a place to continue my education that was close to home was essential, and I feel like I struck gold. The program at COD ended up being a perfect fit for me.”

While at COD, Ursulesku discovered a particular interest in graphic design and brand identity work.

“The inherent problem solving needed in graphic design and brand identity is exactly my cup of tea,” she said. “With each project I attempt to meet the demands of the project, or a client’s expectations, while using my own unique style and voice. Balancing my skills and my own story with what is required for the job, such as developing strong visual concepts and creating a message that engages and motivates the target audience is an exhilarating challenge.”

Ursulesku earned her Associate in Applied Science in Graphic Design and transferred to Columbia College in Chicago, where she was awarded the Presidential Scholarship.

“This competitive, merit-based scholarship is an enormous honor, and words can’t describe how thrilled I am to be a recipient,” she said. “I’d like to give a big 'thank you' to my professor John Callegari. He has pushed me to do my absolute best at every turn, and this scholarship would not have been possible without his guidance. The portfolio of work that I submitted with my scholarship application was all work that I generated in his classes -- which I think says a lot. My education has been greatly enhanced by having him as a professor, and I’m incredibly grateful.”

Ursulesku’s ideal career will incorporate both her fine arts and graphic design skills. The award-winning artist’s work ranges from acrylic florals and photography to stark charcoals reflecting her experiences growing up in northern Bosnia. She also produces watercolors featuring an exploration of light and color. Drawing on a host of muses, she said her work has always been a labor of love and while she is inspired by the work of great masters, as well her peers, she is also inspired by nature, her surroundings and the creative process itself.

“I am inspired by nature and by scenery that I think many people might simply overlook,” she said. “A room, a figure, a field, a bird; I often stop to do quick studies of my surroundings, sketching or painting in an attempt to capture the raw essence of the view before me – the random gesture, the funny moment; life in general. I also am inspired by the harmony expressed when combining brushstroke and color, and by the experience of a painting taking on a life of its own and leading me where it wants to go.”

During her career, Ursulesku has created works for art collectors, corporations and non-profit organizations worldwide. Her commissioned portfolio ranges from individual portraits to corporate work for well-known companies such as Life Focus TV and McDonald’s Corporation, for which she created artwork that was used in McDonald’s Supply Chain symposiums throughout the world. One of her favorite projects was completed for Opportunity International, a non-profit organization that provides micro loans to impoverished people throughout the world. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Hermes Gold Award, a creative awards program administered by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.

Ursulesku is the owner of Blue is My Color, Inc., a showcase for her commissioned and personal artwork, as well as Three Things I Love, a website through which she sells her work in the form of full-size prints, limited editions, original artworks and a wide range of her art imprinted on greeting cards, paper accessories, personalized cards and stationery. In addition, she runs M Creative Studios, Inc., an enterprise showcasing her graphic and web design, branding, identity and advertising services, and most recently, she established M Creative Press, Inc., a business dedicated to all forms and aspects of publishing.

She also has self-published two books: “Life in Paint,” which features her work over nearly 20 years, and “Idle Time,” which includes a variety of sketches, ink and line work. In 2016, she co-authored the book “Fundamentals of Drawing for Design” with Callegari. The book and accompanying sketchpad keyed to modules in the books are sold in COD’s Bookstore and is required for a class. She illustrated more than 100 examples for the book.

Having earned both a BFA in Graphic Design and a BA in Advertising, Ursulesku received a Graduate Assistantship Award and completed an MFA in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts at Columbia, where she received both the Caxton Club Grant and Weismann Award. 

She currently is working as a design director at Morreale Communications. In 2019, her exhibit “Echoes in the Dust” opened at the Will County Historical Museum and Research Center. The site-specific exhibit, housed in three of six historical buildings, consists of a series of hand-made artist books, large-scale prints, archival documents and a sound composition that examines attitudes of expendability held toward immigrants both past and present, especially those who worked on the Illinois and Michigan (I&M) Canal. 

Ursulesku also has worked as an adjunct at College of DuPage, which she believes laid the groundwork for a successful career.  

“I can say with confidence that every single project was vital to my learning,” she said. “If I were to give advice to a student who is considering the Graphic Design program at COD, I would start by saying, ‘This is an outstanding choice!’ The time I spent here surpassed all my expectations. And I cannot speak highly enough about the faculty. My experience from day one has been that the faculty in this program truly want you to succeed, and they are willing to go above and beyond to help you reach your goals.”

More about the Graphic Design program