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John Sternig photo

John Sternig ’08

February 2009

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New graduate plays key role in worldwide launch

A new brand of vodka hits the worldwide market next month featuring a signature look created by a recent St. Norbert College graduate.

John Sternig ’08 designed the logo for the beverage's clear bottles. Sternig and fellow alum Chris Schmitz ’08 are currently working on the company's web site ahead of its launch later this month.
“They flew us out to New York,” says Sternig. “They showed me the bottle, which was pretty cool. They are supposedly sending me a full case.”

Sternig, a West Bend, Wis., native, operates his own freelance graphic design/multimedia business, out of his Green Bay home. Following graduation, he had planned to work for an agency.

“The economy had a big hand in [the decision to start my own business],” says Sternig. “It wasn’t the best time to graduate. I was able to get some interviews with companies, but they just weren’t hiring. During the summer I started doing some freelance work and it just took off.”

In addition to being a graphic designer, Sternig is also a photographer, web designer and fine artist, with a background in drawing, painting and sculpting.

The sale of a stock photo, in fact, funded one special purchase. “I had just returned from a trip to Colorado when I found out I had sold the rights to a photo for around $1,700,” he explains. “I thought, ‘Well, it’s time to go get a ring.’”

Sternig and his high school sweetheart, Kayla Dahlen ’08, also a St. Norbert graduate, were married in October. Dahlen is a bilingual third-grade teacher at Danz Elementary School in Green Bay.

Sternig has adapted to life as a freelance artist. He usually works from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“It’s a whole different spectrum than working for a company,” he says. “It’s exciting. Every day I get up and find my job for the day. It’s like searching for work every day. For some reason that’s exciting for me. In six months, I’ve met people from all over the country, all over the world.”

Sternig finds most of his jobs, including the vodka project, on and other freelance sites. He has worked with fitness professionals creating an e-book series; designed the cover for a book, “The New Jew”; and retouched more than 6,000 photos for Orange Line Media of Seattle. Check out some of Sternig’s work in our portfolio samples gallery.

While he likes the variety of working in different media, Sternig says that some projects are more artistically appealing than others.

“I love logos,” he says. “I also really like designing movie posters and book covers. Web site design is my least favorite. I have to get a job done and move on. I can’t work too long-term on the same thing.”

Sternig first pursued a degree in computer science at St. Norbert before changing to graphic design. He studied a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, during his junior year.

“It’s nice to have the computer science experience because sometimes I can see the background of how a web site was built, for example,” he says, “but I wish I could have taken more art classes.”

Looking ahead, Sternig says he will continue to take a day-to-day approach to his work. “It’s nice to be in Green Bay,” he says. “I do love working for myself. A lot of companies are going on craigslist. That’s the beauty of the situation and I’m reaping the benefits.”

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