Alumni Stories: Meet Kevin O’Neill

Kevin O’Neill, Staff artist for the Scranton Times-Tribune Newspaper

Name: Kevin O’Neill

Graduation Year & Degree: 2004 MFA, “Get Your Masters with the Masters” MFA for Working Professionals and Educators in Graphic Design & Illustration

Major: Advertising Design

Current Occupation: Staff artist for The Times-Tribune, Adjunct art instructor at Marywood, freelance artist

How long at current job: 29 years

Current Personal Website:

What was your favorite part about studying art at Marywood?

The study trips to visit NYC illustrators and designers. Seeing how they work, which it turns out is the same way my peers and I work, was reassuring. They have bigger budgets and famous clients, but the creative process is the same. Also, the trips to the city gave me the opportunity to visit museums and galleries on a regular basis, which was very inspiring.

How did your art education at Marywood help your career?

Meeting and working with other professional artists was a boost for my personal and professional growth, and the MFA helped me secure teaching positions.

What attracted you to this career path?

I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember, so it was a no-brainer. I was always going to be making art, so I figured I might as well get paid to do it.

Did your career path match your vision of a career path? What’s different?

Once upon a time I imagined I would be strictly a freelance artist, but I ended up with a staff position at the newspaper that allowed me a great deal of creative freedom along with stability. I still do freelance work, but I can be selective in the jobs I accept. Teaching was not something I had ever really thought about when I was younger, but as I grew in my career, I thought it would be nice to share what I’ve learned. After I taught my first drawing class many years ago, I was hooked.

What is your favorite thing about your current job?

I get to create art almost every day. I work with interesting people. I get to engage with the community. I think the work I do in journalism and education is important and has a positive impact on people’s lives.

Are you currently working on any interesting side projects?

I’ve recently been dabbling in wood carving which I’m enjoying a lot. Having worked mostly in 2-dimensional media, and particularly digital media, the woodworking is very tactile and hands on. I’ve been carving trees in my backyard that have succumbed to invasive pests. I make them into animal figures. It feels good to turn the negative outcome of the dying trees into a positive affirmation of nature.

Take advantage of all the opportunities available to you while you’re in school. Take chances, experiment, ask your professors questions.

What are some of the biggest rewards in your career?

I’ve been very fortunate to have a career that’s provided me with a good living doing something I really enjoy. Along the way, I’ve made good friends, learned a lot about a variety of subjects, and hopefully, made a positive contribution to society.

What’s something that would surprise people about your day-to-day?

I don’t carry a cell phone or use social media.

What inspires you?

Nature. Mother Nature is the ultimate designer. I work with all types of subjects in my art, but when I review my work, I see that images of animals appear again and again, more so than other subjects. I’m drawn to their grace, beauty, and amazing variety. Being out in nature rejuvenates and inspires me.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Be you own toughest critic. Strive to create work that’s the best you can do. Sometimes, I’ll finish a piece and there will be one small area that bothers me. Other people may not even notice it, but it will be the first thing I see when I look at it. If you really want to be happy with your work, you have to meet your own tough standards.

Any advice for current art students at Marywood?

Work is a big part of your life. You should do something you enjoy. Take advantage of all the opportunities available to you while you’re in school. Take chances, experiment, ask your professors questions. Speak up if you don’t understand something. They are there to teach you and are happy to do so.


ARE YOU INTERESTED IN STUDYING Graphic Design & Illustration?

Graphic Design – Bachelor of Fine Arts: Design
Our graphic design program at Marywood will introduce you to a variety of design disciplines. Conceptual development, technical skills and professionalism are emphasized. Students have the opportunity to work independently, with partners, in small groups, with professionals in the field and real clients. Regular class critiques and portfolio reviews are stressed throughout the program.

Illustration – Bachelor of Fine Arts: Studio Arts
Our professors are working professionals with first-hand knowledge of the opportunities available in the field of illustration. Courses are tailored to your particular interests and strengths, while fostering a broad understanding of the wide range of uses for illustration. Class projects focus on concept development, design, craft, and color. They require students to work in a variety of 2D and 3D media.

Low Residency MFAs in Graphic Design and Illustration are offered through our “Get Your Masters with the Masters” MFA for Working Professionals and Educators in Graphic Design & Illustration. This 60-credit Master of Fine Arts degree is specifically designed for working art directors, designers, illustrators, new media artists and art educators who have to budget their time and resources carefully, while continuing with their full-time occupations. While production and technical skills are stressed, the thrust of our program is on creativity and concept.

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