Love and Coloring Books: Life after Graduation from Siba

A lot has happened in the five years since Graphic Design alumna Ellyn Cox-Hoff completed her Bachelor’s degree at Siba!  Professional opportunities, personal milestones, a worldwide pandemic, and publishing a coloring book are just some of the things that have impacted Ellyn’s life since her commencement in 2018. We recently had a chance to catch up with her and get more details about these big events, and for all of the romantics out there, this particular “Graduate Spotlight” starts with a love story that began at Siba….

Siba: We heard that you married a fellow Siba student, which (due to our small size) is not a common occurrence. Congratulations!

Ellyn: Aaron Hoff (also an alum of the Graphic Design program) and I went on our first date about a month after I graduated. We’d formed an excellent friendship as classmates, hung out a lot, and I graduated first, but just by a few months. I found out later that he had decided to wait to ask me out until after I graduated in case I turned him down! I guess that could have been pretty awkward due to how small our campus and classes were. We had spent so much time together at school that when he asked me to dinner I didn’t even realize it was a date until the check came and he nervously paid for it. I asked if it was a date…and he asked if I wanted it to be. I did. 

We got engaged in October of 2020 and didn’t wait for the pandemic to be over to have our wedding. We bought a house that November and married in December with a small ceremony on his great-great-great grandparents’ farm. In January we got a dog named Stan that we adore!

Siba: Switching to your professional accomplishments, we know that right after graduation you did some work for the Surge – St. Louis’ professional women’s basketball team. What were some big takeaways from your time there?

Ellyn: Working for the Surge was a fantastic experience. Observing a woman in leadership like Surge owner, Khalia Collier, was quite inspiring. I learned so much about the details of event-planning, from creative to logistics. It was such a wonderful opportunity for me to attend a number of professional events and creative meetings with various agencies and other organizations.

Siba: Where did you go after your time with the Surge? 

Ellyn: About a year after graduation I started working at STL Shirt Co as a Graphic Designer. I worked there for almost 5 years and was promoted to “Lead Graphic Designer.” I’ve since moved on and am on the lookout for new opportunities.  Aaron is working as a Graphic Designer at Soccer Master in Manchester, MO.

Siba: How would you describe your professional path since leaving Siba?

Ellyn: Networking is essential as you are struggling to find the right job. I also think it’s so important to stay connected with your classmates. My continued relationship with other Siba Graphic Design graduates has been so beneficial.

Siba: What were your favorite or most impactful classes at Siba?

Ellyn: The courses I appreciated the most were the Portfolio classes where we presented our work to local industry leaders and heard candid feedback from panels of professionals in addition to our instructors.  Those honest critiques were invaluable.  

Siba: Your peers and instructors know you to have a strong work ethic and creative drive. What other attributes do you think are helpful in the industry?

Ellyn: You have to be determined and willing to compete for a job you love and can be proud of. It takes work but it’s worth it!

Siba: What advice would you offer to current Siba Graphic Design students who are getting ready to graduate?

Ellyn: Fine-tune your portfolio and put yourself out there in the graphic design community. I reached out to contacts I made by attending various events, and continued networking. I asked for feedback and tours of agencies. Those interactions helped me build confidence and make connections—you need to find ways to make yourself stand out and be memorable. 

Siba: Any other accomplishments you would like to share?

Ellyn: During the pandemic I was laid off for a short time and I did a lot of puzzles and coloring, but soon ran out of materials that were inspiring, so I created my own coloring book entitled Inspiring Quotes by Powerful Women and had it published through Amazon. You can buy it here.

Siba: What brings you joy at the end of the day?

Ellyn: I honestly love my job. I don’t dread Mondays but I do love to come home to my little house that I get to share with my best friend and best dog.

Siba: Sounds like the perfect work/life balance to us. We wish Ellyn, Aaron, and Stan all the best and we can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds for this dynamic Graphic Design duo!

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