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MIAD Communication Design student creates animated videos for transgender and nonconforming youth suicide prevention campaign

Apr 5, 2019

MILWAUKEEApril 8, 2019 – Tony Holz ’19 (Communication Design) knows what it is to feel like an outsider. He lived in both Japan and Iola, Wis., as a child and teenager and identifies as nonbinary/gender ambiguous. Last year, a family member committed suicide. All of those experiences helped spur the idea behind Tony’s Senior Exhibition project: a suicide prevention campaign for transgender and gender nonconforming youth.

Tony HolzTony’s campaign includes three animated videos and an accompanying website. Each motion graphics video is designed for youth ages 15-18. The idea is for the animations to play before YouTube videos. Each video tackles a different theme: gender, coming-of-age and mental health. Tony’s campaign is on view in the 2019 MIAD Senior Exhibition, April 19 – May 11 in MIAD’s galleries. The exhibition is generously sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.

Pockets of positivity for transgender and gender nonconforming youth

Tony, who was recently named a 2019 Student to Watch by Graphic Design USA, aims to provide “pockets of positivity” through his campaign. He hopes that individuals watching the videos will feel less alone and/or less afraid about seeking help if they are suicidal.

“In researching this project, I learned that up to 30 percent of all transgender/gender nonconforming youth ages 11-18 have attempted suicide at least once,” Tony said. “I was left feeling a sense of duty to address these topics. There are no animated suicide prevention campaigns for this audience currently – this is a first.”

Tony Holz

Tony Holz

Tony is currently looking to partner with LGBTQ organizations that can use the campaign he has created to reach their audiences and truly make a difference.

Throughout the project, MIAD alumni Vassi Slavova ‘08 and Erik Holman ’09 (Time-Based Media), who own Blackbox Visual design and animation studio in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, have provided Tony with feedback on the motion graphics videos. Tony is also a motion design intern at the studio, and worked as an intern at IBM in Austin, Texas.

After graduation from MIAD, Tony wants to work in digital media production, specifically in motion graphics. As a Communication Design major and Illustration minor, he likes to combine the two. In addition to being named a 2019 Student to Watch by Graphic Design USA, his work was accepted in 2017 to the Society of Illustrators Annual Student Scholarship Competition in New York City.

More information on the MIAD Senior Exhibition: