Equipped to Lead and Succeed

Designing for Justice

An alum describes how he got a job creating litigation graphics used in courtrooms

by Annie Breen

An amateur designer who created flyers and posters for fun, Andre Canta '22 began his first year at USF as an undeclared member of the Honors College. Through a forum class in that program, he met a design professor who changed the trajectory of his college career.

Canta graduated as a design major and triple minor (in advertising, Catholic studies, and Phillipine studies), and now works at Impact Trial Consulting, LLC as a designer doing litigation graphics. The company’s pro bono work was a big part of his decision to accept the job offer, as Canta believes it’s important for smaller-scale businesses and nonprofits to have design that’s as professional as large corporations. Canta eventually wants to do community-based graphic design for nonprofits. Read on to learn about his time in the program and how it prepared him for the career he has now.

Why did you choose to major in design at USF?

I studied digital media in high school where we learned audio/visual production and editing. I gravitated towards Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and began developing my design skills. Coming into USF as an undeclared major, I spent my first semester figuring out what I wanted to study. I wasn’t aware that USF had a design program until I met Professor Noopur Agarwal of the Design program, who co-taught the Honors College forum class I was taking at the time. When I expressed interest in design, she shared the program's booklet with me and answered all of my questions. In that first semester, I was already designing flyers and posters for my new friends at USF and old friends back home, just for fun. Everything seemed to be pointing me toward a design major. While I wasn’t able to join the design program right away as it was an impacted major, I continued to do more research about it, and my excitement grew. From the classes it offers to its focus on social justice, I knew design was exactly what I wanted to study.

Student sitting on the ground and looking up at posters
Andre Canta's project "Praying Hands of a Sinner" (Photographed by Karina Tran '21)

What is one of your favorite memories from the design program?

My favorite memories come from Professor Liat Berdugo's Copy Culture class. Liat constantly pushed me to think and design outside of my comfort zone. One of my favorite projects involved creating posters by copying, scanning, and manipulating an image using only a copy machine. I created a series of five posters that I called “Praying Hands of a Sinner,” based on Albert Dürer’s “Study of the Hands of an Apostle.” This project forced me to get off the computer and design with tools different from what I typically used. I enjoyed the process of creating in that way, and it helped me to think differently in my next projects. I was really honored that “Praying Hands of a Sinner” won the Student Choice Award at the 2022 Thacher Art + Architecture Annual Exhibition.

How'd you end up at your current job?

I found Impact Trial during my job hunt after graduation. Since I was looking for my first-ever full-time job, I cast a pretty wide net. I didn’t know much about litigation graphics before finding Impact, but I decided to look into the company anyway. While researching, I was drawn to the fact that they also took on some pro-bono cases and supported several legal cases centering on social justice. I decided to apply and went through a lengthy interview process, where I learned more about what they did and who they were. It felt like a good match and I’ve enjoyed working there ever since.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The people that I work with are the best part of my job. I have learned so much about this niche area of design, as well as how to be a better designer, from my coworkers. I get to work directly with many different designers, art directors, and trial technology specialists across the four offices (San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Boston) on various cases and in different industries. I am always so amazed at the designs and graphics people can create even just within PowerPoint. The work we do has a very specific function and form, yet the designers I work with come up with very creative solutions to support our clients.

What's one of the most interesting projects you've worked on?

While I can't talk about the specifics of cases I have worked on to preserve the confidentiality of our clients, my most interesting project so far involved flying on-site to help take product photography for a case involving Apple. I picked up photography as a hobby in high school, and have since used it to support my design work throughout the following years. Being able to use my photography skills professionally was a great opportunity. On this project, I worked with one of Impact's partners to photograph various products related to the case to compare the products to technical drawings in design patents.

Any advice you'd give to an incoming Don considering joining the design program?

Always experiment and iterate. The design professors often give lots of room for people to push their designs further. You never know what you are going to end up liking until you try it out. Through experimentation, you have the opportunity to grow as a designer and find what you might really like — and what you don’t.

Graciously accept the criticism and opportunity to learn from your peers during critiques. It can be super scary to present something you’ve created to a group of people, but USF's design class critiques are often structured in a positive and beneficial way that isn’t meant to tear your work down. I always loved seeing how my classmates worked through the same prompts from a different perspective.