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Graphic Design & Portfolio

be a wonder wanderer!


Find inspiration and invigoration
with this nature immersion creativity master class.

If you are at an in-between spot, this could be the reinvigoration for the journey ahead.

seedad donkey4 smokey.jpg

May 17 - 31, 2023


Are you a fine artist looking to expand your repertoire in design or create your own digital portfolio?

Are you a designer looking to polish your portfolio with new work and/or redesign of the digital portfolio presentation?

Have you thought about graduate school for design, but don't have the ability to spend 2 or 3 years in a program?

Are you a current designer who needs a reboot and mini-sabbatical?

This is a master class taught by a former tenured graphic design associate professor turned coach and residency host with more than two decades in assisting people in evaluating their work, helping people examine their personal goals, and coaching creatives in elevating their design solutions and digital portfolio presentation. Val left academia to start the residency and retreat center.


This is a nature immersion and homestead experience combined with a master class summer camp style with a maximum of 9 participants.


  1. You'll submit your existing portfolio in whatever format for review and development of a custom plan for your two week experience.

  2. Based on the backgrounds and interests of each participant, a final agenda will be created which includes group activities and one-on-one meetings to aid you in your projects.

  3. Over the two weeks, we'll work on nature and design inspiration creative projects as well as Val's course "Brand Me" which includes instruction and mentorship on  personal branding and portfolio. 

  4. We'll have group dinners, critiques, and add in some fun with art/design inspired movies and/or bonfires.


This experience includes nature and homestead immersion featuring a guided Forest Therapy session - inspired by the Japanese Forest Bathing - and participating in the activities of the farm style chores most often in food prep and meal clean-up as well as being able to interact with the camp donkeys, chickens, peacocks and peahen, cats, two rabbits, and the two farm dogs.


ITINERARY BASICS (you will receive a complete agenda closer to the event):

Some afternoons are on your own to do your work, take naps, go for a walk, skip rocks at the river, hug the donkeys, read a book, etc. Each person will sign up on Day One to participate in various facets of the meal preps and homestead chores so you can experience life in the countryside.


Activities and Workshop/Master class includes:

  • Forest Therapy guided walk (Day One as intro to the land and personal journey)

  • Collage and Bookbinding for your own camp journal

  • "Brand Me" course culminating in personal brand, updated resume, and digital portfolio presentation

  • One design project - individualized based on each person's interests and goals

  • Watercolor and nature journaling workshop taught by artist in residency Brent Rowley

  • Cyanotypes (traditional photography)

  • Photography walkabout with your new polaroid (included in the program fee)

  • One-on-one meetings and group critique or presentation sessions

What's included?

Private design and group workshop instruction by Val, MFA Graphic Design and former professor turned coach

Art Workshop (painting / watercolor) lead by artist in residency, Brent Rowley

Lodging - Choose from a variety of room options (price based on room choice)

Food - All food will be procured prior to the start of our session and include mostly organic and gluten free, vegetarian or pescatarian options. No junk food will be included. Mornings will be continental style with fresh eggs from the camp chickens, fruits, yogurts, breads, juices, coffee or tea (plus our delicious well water). We'll have a soda stream on hand to make fresh carbonated beverages if that's your thing, plus try out using fresh garden ingredients. You may be introduced to edible flowers, herbs from the garden, or foraging as part of the nature immersion and homestead experience. Lunch will be available to grab on your own and may include salads, sandwich elements, or possibly leftovers if we have any. Dinners will be together as a group and each person will volunteer to help for at least two meals in prep and clean-up. Some of our options may be slow-cooked crock pot. Understanding how to eat healthy and how fuel feeds our creative brains is an aspect of this experience.

Supplies & Camp Care package:

- camp water bottle
- camp T-shirt (Pepper Patrol or Camp Logo) (size ordered after registration)
- Materials to book-bind a japanese stitch journal with collage cover

- Polaroid starter kit (camera is yours)
- copy of the Japanese philosophy book "In Praise of Shadows"
- postcard size pack of watercolor paper
- basic set of watercolor and/or watercolor pens/pencils
- tote bag

plus cyanotype prepared paper during the outdoor workshop

What's not included? Transportation. Please inquire about assistance from the Nashville airport if you are flying into TN for an additional fee.


What should I bring?

You will be provided a general recommendation list in your final arrival info packet.

  • Make sure to have layers of clothes and prepare for your two weeks without possibly doing more than one load of laundry middle of the way through the event. No shoes allowed inside the houses so bring socks and slippers.

  • Flashlight

  • Shoes that can get wet in the rain or shoes to walk into the river.

  • Bath Towel (we'll wash towels mid-way through the event).

  • Basic bedding is provided, but you may want your own pillow or blanket.

  • A laptop or tablet for design work

  • Your own sketchbook that you prefer for any design sketching or brainstorming

Program & Lodging Fee:

SINGLE OCCUPANCY (booking by first choice in application acceptance)

Twin shared bath / Raspberry Residency = $3,120

Full shared bath / Lemon Lodge = $3,190

Queen shared bath / Camphaus (a live in cat cafe style) = $3,260

DOUBLE OCCUPANCY (booking by first choice in application acceptance. please designate if you have a roommate attending with you.)

Private ensuites:

Full with Twin / Raspberry Residency - double = $3,190

* request as a private = $3,680

King with Twin / Lemon Lodge - double = $3,260

*request as a private = $3,820

Queen with twin / Camphaus - double = $3,190

*request as private = $3680

Some former student work including branding design process for personal brands, hypothetical brands, or clients as well as type intensive portfolio pieces.

jessica brand
theseus_process sketches
r.ochab_blurb -15
r.ochab_blurb -13
r.ochab_blurb -4
r.ochab print collateral
j.searl portfolio_Page_19
r.ochab_ipad report
BCariannagerrior_book cover
BCariannagerrior_movie poster
Venomous play poster
Dazed play poster
r.ochab_food truck
BCjaquielinebole book cover
BCjacquelinebole movieposter
Yes, I'm interested...

You will be contacted soon for the next step in the registration process.



Coach Val


I pride myself on being a coach and mentor so I welcome dialogue from those participating in the residency program who are interested in receiving feedback on their work or just discussions in general about life and career path trajectories.


After more than 20 years in higher education achieving tenure and the level of associate professor, Val is now a coach and mentor as the founder of the Sarasvati creative Space at Camp Wonder Wander. After years of dealing with the inside of academia, Val has the yearning to reach others in an alternative lane that is much more immersive, much more effective, and much more affordable. Much of my teaching/coaching career has been mentoring non-majors and developing innovative curriculum. This design intensive residency is a crash course that integrates the philosophy of happy accidents with the fundamentals of design.

My mentorship approach starts before you even arrive as I try to get to know each individual so that I can ascertain your work habits, your creative box, and more. In addition, the application process is intended to ensure the best fit for the tight-knit intensive so please be as forthcoming as possible.


Val received her MFA in Graphic Design from the University of Florida where her thesis "Inside/Outside: Lincolnville Stories" examined narrative techniques found in visual communication and storytelling to empower a marginalized community. After spending immense amount of time over the 3 year MFA program in the St. Augustine historical society library and interviewing residents, the final form of the thesis was a bus stop resembling a front porch. The irony of the bus stop is that there was no public transportation in this community and it represented the flight away from the community. The structure of the porch was selected as the representation of the space between the private of the home and the public of the street as the story space as a common architectural feature of many of the homes in the neighborhood.

If you want to see more of my own design work, please visit my design portfolio and my photography portfolio/blog.

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