Graduate student Paul Farinelli credits his studies in graphic art and digital media -- and some crucial advice from a professor -- with helping him develop video game characters "with a mystique" for display March 23 to April 8 in the Master of Arts Thesis Exhibition in Tyler Art Gallery.

A free public reception for the college's five master of arts in art degree candidates will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 23, in Tyler Hall's gallery and lobby.

Farinelli's thesis project has yielded seven 40- by 60-inch digital illustrations of original video game characters, including "Artemesia," a female wearing a gigantic hat bearing orbs that imbue her with the power to attack her opponents psychically.

"Only a few months ago, I would never have expected work like this from myself," said the Auburn resident. "Only recently has my process of ideation 'gotten there.' I'm very happy with these characters."

Farinelli credits art faculty members -- especially fellow illustrator Jason Cheney, a 2008 alumnus and 2010 master's degree recipient -- with advising him on ways to step up his game, so to speak.

"Professor Cheney, in particular, has been very helpful on character concept development, and iterations of ideas," he said. "My ultimate would be to work as a concept artist in the video game industry."

Each master's candidate, all focusing on graphic design and digital media, submitted an artist's statement. In part, each one reads:

* Farinelli: "He works in a combination of traditional and digital media to develop characters that exhibit a certain level of realism, while still featuring fantastical stylistic flourishes. His aim is to craft work with a mystique about it that electrifies the imaginations of viewers …"

* Thomas Pickett, of Watertown: "A working designer and native of Upstate New York, his work explores identity systems … using a variety of techniques from woodworking to web design and everything in between. He hopes to work with and improve upon small brands across the country."

* Brandon Smith, of Rushville: "A graphic designer who enjoys a very hands-on and ambitious approach to design work. Working in a digital and printmaking space, I focus on bridging both skill sets together into my art to create a dynamic and thoughtful experience."

* Marissa Specioso, a Syracuse resident with family in Argentina: "A digital designer, whose work includes photography, graphic design, web design and her newest passion, video production … The work created is typically around one of her two areas of focus, world culture or food."

* Forrest Stata, of Round Lake: "A majority of my work is illustration. I primarily deal with digital media on raster or vector programs … (which) allows my work to appear differently from other pieces, yet share similar treatment of color saturation and brightness to create a variety of textures, gradients and figures."

Tyler Art Gallery hours -- when school is in session -- are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. The gallery is closed during spring break at SUNY Oswego, reopening March 20.

For more information, contact Michael Flanagan, director of Tyler Art Gallery, at or 315-312-2112.

SUNY Oswego's art department, accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. Visit for more information.