Daniel Bosse and Jim Mousner graduated from the relatively small graphic design program at the University of Houston, a well-kept secret. Getting that secret out is their main priority. They are both business owners: Bosse founded Bayon Creative, while Mousner started the design group, Origin. Both of their entrepreneurial spirits found their way into their mode of giving back. The graphic design alums started the Graphic Alumni Partnership (GAP) and began connecting the community of UH designers to each other, so more interactions could take place. There was a great need, they felt, to show the significance of work coming out of UH’s small but notable program. This intimate group of graduates, only about 24 a year, work in a studio setting with Houston as their laboratory. Many graduates go on to own their own businesses, publish their own magazines and work for the top caliber design companies in the nation.
In Bosse’s words, “We give back because of the passion we have for the program. We are proud of where we went to school. Both Jim and I have businesses because of this program.” And through GAP, the designers’ sense of camaraderie is strong. Their website reminds recent graduates what it was like to incur the cost of their education, and states: “UH GAP was set up to make the current program stronger and less economically rigorous on the currently enrolled students in the Graphic Communication Program. Through donations of time and money from alumni, we strive to make the lives of these students a little easier.” One way they accomplish this is by providing three undergraduate and three graduate level scholarships each year to deserving students. They also support the senior graphic design students’ final projects through mentorship, and they provide the branding for the Blaffer School of Art’s Master’s Degree Thesis Show.
Mousner believes that the culture of great design is important for Houston. Early on in his career, he struggled with the stereotype that one must go to New York or L.A. to advance in design. He ended up staying in Houston, and building a multi-million dollar company. He is of the opinion that designers are the front line in bringing about social change and he strives for that in every aspect of his work. According to Mousner, graphic designers “infiltrate, galvanize and document” the changing cultural landscape. This year, the GAP’s “Main Event,” their annual fundraising and networking venue, will focus on the Middle East and seek to erase negative connotations through powerful design. This type of cultural development and social change is taking place because of the many stellar University of Houston graphic design graduates. Through their scholarship gifts, the Graphic Alumni Partnership will advance the academic careers of deserving students and will continue to provide networking resources to those just recently graduated.