Student Devin Slatas says that SMC Community Ed Photoshop instructor Greg Van Zuyen not only was the biggest inspiration for her to start her own apparel company, but he also opened a whole new world to her. 

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By Devin Slatas

There is something about going through the motions of getting an education and acknowledging the fact that this is what society has planned for us. But actually taking the leap to seek our passion and fire that inspires us to learn takes on a whole new personal endeavor. The kind of passion that ignites your soul.

I have always believed that art was the most vivid expression of myself – and my most meaningful interpretation of the world and its beauty. I feel that you can always take an authentic glimpse into someone’s soul from the artistic magic they create and exude.

Photoshop instructor Greg Van Zuyen is not only a guru of design and symbology, but also the one teacher I can honestly say that brought me to where I am today. He taught me not only how to channel my creativity through means of concise graphic design, but also to dig deeper than that. His philosophy challenges you to expand the mind and connect thought, emotion and symbology into every seeping hole of your artwork. His lessons often were a self-exploration but were also a means of identifying visual triggers through design that relay specific messages to the world.

Greg became the biggest inspiration to start my own apparel company. He gave me the extra push and knowledge to present the world with a unique concept.

My company Astrae Apparel is a one-of-a-kind, spiritual collection of clothing that embodies symbolic messages and artwork screen-printed onto organic garments. My designs are executed with the intention of relaying a deeper meaning that the viewer is left to interpret.

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My goal is for people to get a glimpse into my soul through the pieces I design and to become inspired just like I was to exude positive affirmations from the universe. My mantra now is “trust the universe” and it has fully saturated every part of my life and company. I believe everything happens for a reason and it might sound crazy but you just have to surrender and believe that you are exactly where you are supposed to be in this moment.

Thank you, Greg, for opening a whole new world to me.


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