VCU logo


“It was here I learned to ask: what is the truth about the brand?”

The VCU Brandcenter environment is so much about self-learning, self-teaching, and most importantly—collaborating.

During my first year at the Brandcenter, I created Issue One of Skinny Dipper magazine along with two friends (outside of the Brandcenter), TJ Rinoski and John Schengber. All three of us shot photographs on old film cameras we bought off strangers or inherited from our parents. All three of us loved scouring through magazines. All three of us weren’t quite satisfied anymore with the online community we had built around our blog and thought to ourselves: if this is the medium we love so much, why haven’t we created our own magazine?

Skinny Dipper sits at the intersection of art and adventure with photographs (mostly shot on film), art, writing, and interviews with insanely cool people. The idea for this project started pre-Brandcenter—however, being in this program helped me focus on what we really wanted the content to become. It was here I learned to ask: what is the truth about the brand?

We got so much feedback and help with this project along the way. The back cover art is by Robert Persky (AD, 2018) and there are two written pieces from 2nd years Christa Prater (CW, 2018) and Sam Dworkin (CW, 2018). Alum Chantal Panozzo (CW, 2003) helped our team focus our brand identity to eventually become Skinny Dipper. Diane Cook-Tench, founder of the VCU Adcenter, advised us through multiple steps of the process. Professor Peter Coughter and many Brandcenter peers gave incredible feedback to build the successful Kickstarter campaign (which raised over $6,000!).

Based on the success of the Kickstarter campaign, we ended up printing 100 more copies of our magazine, and are getting ready to show at RVA Mag Fest (the Richmond community is very supportive of creative endeavors like this—we actually printed the magazine here locally).

This magazine has been my side project the whole time I’ve been a student. The point of this project was to go after what makes us happy—and it succeeded. This is something I get to do for myself creatively, and know it will be a portfolio piece that helps define who I am and what I value.

I feel like the VCU Brandcenter is a great place to explore passion projects like this—we can be our own client, create our own product, and know we have a vast array of resources for feedback and support along the way.

-Lynn Nakamura, art direction track, class of 2018