Posted Friday, February 01, 2019 - 9:00 AM

Pratt Pairs: Valentine’s Day 2019

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This Valentine’s Day, the Office of Alumni Relations is sharing the stories of alumni who fell for each other while they were students at Pratt.

Read about the couples’ magical moments, their favorite date spots, and relationship advice they have for Pratt students today.

Do you know of other Pratt pairs and partners? The Office of Alumni Relations would love to hear from you. Please share your stories by emailing alumni@pratt.edu.


Kevin + Tawna Grasty

KEVIN + TAWNA GRASTY

How and where did you first meet?

We would pass each other on campus or around the Willoughby dorm often. We finally met in the A&P grocery store on Myrtle Avenue, so we formally introduced ourselves. I remember Tawna said, “You always speak, but I don’t know your name.” I learned she was a Communications Design major from Baltimore, MD, and I shared that I was a Communications Design major from Washington, DC.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

We had some of the same instructors, so talking about design, critiquing each other’s work, and comparing our grades was always interesting. Professor Charles Goslin was central to both of our academic experiences and a major influence in our journey to become conceptual and creative designers. We always reminisce about that shared experience.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

As students we were usually hungry, so every date was an adventure. Just venturing into Manhattan to find a nice restaurant and a good movie was usually the ticket to a fun time. We’d always play “Name that Font” at the start of each movie.  

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Design school is tough and you have to put serious time and effort into your projects to best position yourself for life and a profession after college. Enjoy each other’s company and cultivate your relationship to be the best friends you can be. Be kind, thoughtful, and supportive, and you may discover that you are soul mates.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We live in Silver Spring, MD and will celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary this summer. Tawna is the Senior Administrative Assistant at the American Music Therapy Association, while also handling their high-profile graphic design projects. For the past 35 years, I have worked at American University in Washington, DC and am currently serving as the Assistant Vice President for Creative Services in the Division of Communications and Marketing.


Giuliana + Bill Schwab

GIULIANA + BILL SCHWAB

How and where did you first meet?

We were both RAs and first met at RA camp! Bill claims I noticed him first when he was playing volleyball.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Breakfast at Mike's! We went there all the time to the point where Mike would practically have our coffees waiting for us.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Our first date. We went on a full-day adventure in the Manhattan. Hit some museums, got lunch, walked a lot, got some beer . . . it was great. That’s when I knew Bill could keep up with me.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

It’s always the best when your partner is your best friend. We really started out as friends and still are best friends to this day.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We have a young family with two kids and a Lab. This is a very busy time with the work/life balance, but we’re so lucky that we have amazing kids and love what we do professionally. Bill is designing characters for Disney animated films. I’m designing products for my company GoSili. We are always showing each other our work for feedback, just like the days of critiques at Pratt. We know we’ve landed on something good when we have “no notes” to give.


Frank + Shirley Verhoorn

FRANK + SHIRLEY VERHOORN

How and where did you first meet?

My husband Frank Verhoorn and I met at Pratt in 1957, and have been married for 57 years!!

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

One of our best memories while at Pratt together, apart from going into NYC, was spending time at the Pratt flagpole, with hours of long conversation. Our Pratt connections did not stop there! Two of our four children attended Pratt. Our son Derek met his Pratt Pair—Kathrine—while in school.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Our “first date” took place at the ice rink in Central Park as the outcome of a skating party arranged by a mutual Pratt friend. As it turns out, everyone, including the planner, failed to show up except myself and the person who would ultimately become my husband, Frank.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Having been a couple for a very long time, my only advice to current students is: for all relationships—be it personal or professional—the overriding need to take time to get to know the other person, and to realize that understanding and compromise never go out of style no matter the time nor the circumstances.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We currently live in Maine and are both retired, although Frank still works in the architectural field in the greater Portland area.


Jarrad Morris  + Claire Aquila

JARRAD MORRIS  + CLAIRE AQUILA

How and where did you first meet?

We met at the Pratt Library Orientation tour that I [Jarrad] was giving.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

We enjoyed collaborating on one another's design projects and taking jewelry design together.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

We had a recurring Sunday morning breakfast date at John's Doughnuts; it’s something we continue to this day.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Find someone you like creating art with and be supportive in each other's endeavors.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

I [Jarrad] am a professional engineer and the VP of Construction at Extell Development Company, where I work on some of the most iconic structures in the world. Claire is a costume designer for Broadway, film, and television, and currently works in the costume department for the award-winning series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. We are married with two kids, living in Bedford Stuyvesant.


Rachelle Etienne-Robinson + Stan “Substantial” Robinson

RACHELLE ETIENNE-ROBINSON + STAN “SUBSTANTIAL” ROBINSON

How and where did you first meet?  

We would see each other in passing, like in the cafeteria during the fall semester of our freshman year; but we were formally introduced during the spring semester through mutual friends.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Sitting on the balcony together in Willoughby while looking at the Manhattan skyline.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

We love going to the movies in the city or in downtown Brooklyn for date night. Our favorite theatre was BAM.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

We would recommend being friends with someone before beginning a relationship and to love, honor, and respect one another and their talent.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

Currently, we live in Northern Virginia. Between the two of us, we have over 20 years' experience designing, consulting, creating, and producing music as well as working in education. After years of collaborating, in 2017, we formed Substantial Art & Music LLC (SAM). SAM is an organization focused on providing consulting services to the art and music community. We provide design and consulting services to emerging and established artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs.


Steve Light + Christine A. Cincotta

STEVE LIGHT + CHRISTINE A. CINCOTTA

 

How and where did you first meet?

We met on a group trip to the Guggenheim Museum freshman year and then again in Child and Adolescent Development Class sophomore year. We started dating sophomore year.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Our first date was going to one of the free movie nights on Thursdays at Memorial Hall. We saw Rain Man. We also loved getting burgers at Mike's Coffee Shop.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

One of our favorite memories and New York moments was just walking together on the Lower East Side and seeing what we thought was smoke coming from some street-level windows. Looking inside the open windows, we realized it was flour. They were making matzo. The older gentleman saw us watching and gave us each a piece right from the oven. We wandered holding hands and eating matzo enjoying New York City.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Support each other's art and creative space. Talk. Listen. Learn together.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We are married 15 years in June and every day feels like an exciting date with my wife. Professionally, Christine is teaching Kindergarten for her 26th year and doing wonderful watercolors. She is the most dedicated teacher I know. I am teaching Pre-School 3.5-4 year olds and working on my 25th children's book. I have work in the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, The Eric Carle Museum, and private collections.


Ben Gould + Dawn MostoW

BEN GOULD + DAWN MOSTO

How and where did you first meet?

We both elected to take "Plastics," which was a course in various forms of plastic characteristics and techniques. Dawn had just returned from living in Japan for three years prior, and entered class wearing all her fashions from Harajuku. Ben saw a splash of color as she walked in, and often describes the moment as "love at first sight."

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

In October of 2006, we decided to join forces in designing a two-person costume entry for Pratt's annual Halloween Costume Contest. We worked together in the basement of Pratt Studios whenever we had spare time between our class work. Our creation was "The Spirit of the G Train," which took the form of two four-wheeled subway rats, mixed with parts of the train itself. We won first place!

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

We loved and still love to visit Kenka on St. Mark's Place. They serve a huge variety of authentic Japanese soul foods, and cheap beer. This is where Dawn would retell stories of her time living in Japan, where we both eventually would visit on our honeymoon in 2011.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Creativity can be a solid foundation for a long-lasting, meaningful relationship. Just remember to love each other as people, as well as artists, and you will never tire of spending time together.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We have just moved to Atlanta, and are getting established as Ben has taken a new job designing toys. Last year, we worked together on a group costume which won the "Overall International Design Award," and the year before won the "Wearable Technology Award," at the World of Wearable Art in New Zealand. Dawn has continued designing fashions under her label "Dawnamatrix" for Vogue, Covergirl, and many individual performing artists including Katy Perry, Beyonce, and Pink.


Bob Eckstein + Tamar Stone

BOB ECKSTEIN + TAMAR STONE

How and where did you first meet?

We met at Pratt Institute in class. Tammy remembers being repulsed by me and thinking I was creepy. I remember her as a litle off and showing up to class in pajamas and carrying her art supplies in a retro lunch box and her hair tied up like a babushka.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

When our work was being compared to each other’s by the teacher and he made her cry and leave the room.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

We didn’t date. We were adversaries. It wasn’t until twelve years later we ran into each other at Pratt Institute classmate Betsy Scheld’s funeral. We were both close friends of hers. Her father asked us to work together on his daughter’s memorial, and we not only put aside our differences but we eloped in Iceland in 2000.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

This is more advice for our whole country: communicate with your enemies. You never know what might happen.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

Tammy is a renowned book artist whose work is collected in museums and institutes around the world. Bob is a New Yorker cartoonist, New York Times bestseller, world’s only snowman expert and author of The Illustrated History of the Snowman.


James Ransome + Lesa Cline-Ransome

JAMES RANSOME + LESA CLINE-RANSOME

How and where did you first meet?

L: We met in 1985, during our sophomore year, at a Pratt Purple Rain party. Prince’s Purple Rain movie had just been released and they were playing the soundtrack from the film along with Prince hits. There is no one I loved more than Prince and James asked me to dance.  

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

J: Probably my favorite memory is of us doing our assignments together in Lesa’s dorm room.  

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

L: Many Friday nights, we would go to downtown Brooklyn to have burgers, onion rings, and shakes at Juniors.

J: On our very first date, I took Lesa to a restaurant in Manhattan called Who’s On First. I worked a part-time job, and I had just gotten my first paycheck, but my biggest fear was the bill would be more than I had in my pocket, so when Lesa asked to order dessert, I said no.  

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

L + J: We both agree good communication is the key to any strong relationship and is crucial for establishing the groundwork when difficult discussions need to be had. And a good sense of humor helps as well.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

J: I have been a children’s book illustrator for the past 30 years and have illustrated over 60 books, including Uncle Jed’s Barbershop, Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, Aunt Flossie’s Hats (and Crabcakes Later), and The Bell Rang.  I also am an Associate Professor of Illustration and coordinator of the Illustration MFA program at Syracuse University.

L:  After working for many years as a copywriter and teacher, I began writing for children nearly 20 years ago and have written nearly 20 books, including Satchel Paige, Words Set me Free, Before She Was Harriet, and Finding Langston, many of which James has illustrated.   

L & J: Our books have been the recipients of numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award, Scott O’Dell Award, and the NAACP Image Award. We host art and writing segments on the award-winning educational series KidLit TV.  We live in the Hudson Valley and are the parents of four children, Jaime (25), Maya (23), Malcolm (22), and Leila (18). In September we celebrate our 30th anniversary.  


Jina Seo + Jung Soo Park

JINA SEO + JUNG SOO PARK

How and where did you first meet?

We met in one of the studio rooms in the design building, on the third floor. It was February of 2012.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Most definitely working together in the studios, as well as taking a walk in the sculpture garden at Pratt.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

We visit Brooklyn Botanic Garden every year in the spring to enjoy the cherry blossoms.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Be supportive of each other. Respect each other's areas of expertise, and learn from each other as much as you can.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We are still based in Brooklyn, fairly close to Pratt. I currently work at a fashion jewelry design company in Manhattan, and my husband is an industrial designer at frog in Brooklyn.


Barbara + Gary Santagata

BARBARA + GARY SANTAGATA

How and where did you first meet?

We meet the first week of freshman orientation in 1979 and never dated anyone else after that. Married in 1985.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Many! The No Name Cafe, Mike's Coffee Shop, Watching the Night of the Living Dead movie at Memorial Hall, The Rubberplant Lounge Puppet show, The Halloween Party where The B-52s played "Rock Lobster" all night—the only song they knew. The very best memories were being with friends at Willoughby dorm—many of whom are also married to each other, living near us, and we still get together regularly.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Going to Puglia's restaurant in Little Italy where Terry Perry would sing and you could have your picture taken with a giant, live parrott.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Enjoy and encourage each other’s talents and ambitions. Marry a fellow artist. That mutual interest has been the cornerstone and greatest shared joy of our lives together.  

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We are now married 33 years and have three grown children and a house in upper Westchester.

Barbara worked with commercial photographers in NYC after college. Now she spends her time on fused glass, graphic arts, photography, and cooking.

Gary's first job out of school was sculpting jewelry models for Tiffany's (pre CAD!)

He now owns a busy jewelry manufacturing company in Beacon, New York. There he has the opportunity to hire and teach the skills to aspiring young jewelers. He creates his own designs when time allows (a lot of CAD and 3-D printers are involved).

We were a transitional generation—learning many hands-on skills at Pratt (such as hand lettering, film developing, and jewelry sculpting), then having to transition into new technology (digital cameras, Photoshop, and CAD)—a very interesting time to be an artist!


Elizabeth and Ben Zucker

ELIZABETH AND BEN ZUCKER

How and where did you first meet?

We met in Pratt’s library; I was working as a page over the summer and he was browsing the photography books!

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Our favorite memory was being able to work together professionally in the same environment, in the darkrooms and printing labs and help each other. Seeing artwork together either from student art shows or going into the city.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Anywhere on Myrtle Avenue—anything from the amazing delis to all the restaurants!

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Enjoy your time there! It goes by fast.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We are both still active artists in our fields. Elizabeth is a high school art teacher, and Ben manages a restaurant in NYC. We’ve been married for five years and live on Long Island. Our son is eight months old, and we can’t wait to get him involved in the arts!


Ronnie Fritz and Gabby Brown

Ronnie Fritz and Gabby Brown

How and where did you first meet?

We were introduced in early 2001 through mutual friends. Fritz still remembers the long baby blue coat Gabby was wearing the first time he saw her, in the cafeteria. We quickly became friends and grew closer over many long nights of cigarettes, malt liquor, and rock ‘n’ roll.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Gabby likes to remember all the times Fritz came to visit her while she was pulling all-nighters in the studio. She’d be severely sleep deprived and he would always be around to make her feel a little less crazy.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

We didn’t really go on dates at Pratt, since we were broke art students. But for our first real date, we saw Lost In Translation together and walked arm-in-arm through Chelsea in the rain.

These days, our favorite New York date spot is Le Barricou on Grand Street in Brooklyn. A charming little French bistro where we got married in 2009.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Just have fun. You’re young artists in New York City and college is the most free you’ll ever be. Life moves quickly—make an excellent mess while you can.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

After 16 years in Brooklyn, we packed up in the summer of 2016 and headed west to Denver, where we now live with our son Felix and daughter Teddy. Gabby grew up in Denver, so it’s nice to be close to family. And you can never overestimate the value of free babysitting.

Fritz is now a Senior UI Designer for Spectrum TV and Gabby is an apparel consultant for indie brands and pattern makers.


Cooper Miller and Juliette Richey

COOPER MILLER AND JULIETTE RICHEY

How and where did you first meet?

Cooper shared an apartment on Spencer Street between Willoughby and Dekalb with four other Pratt students. Juliette was part of a student improv group called The Uptop Players that was throwing a Big Lebowski party at the apartment. Cooper wore a burgundy velour robe, prison issue orange scrubs, and a theatrical mask, which seemed to Juliette to be a very “Dude” thing to do.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

We would often run into each other while crossing campus and spend hours together. We both did work-study as computer lab monitors in the basement of the ARC. While listening to her portable CD player, Juliette once wistfully walked by the video computer lab on her way from Stabile. She stopped just to wave at Cooper, then bounced off as if in time with the music. It sounds uneventful but it left an indelible mark on Cooper.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

We love Mexican food, particularly Chavela’s in Crown Heights. They also catered our wedding, which took place in Prospect Park, also a great date spot.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Relationships are like computer cables, most of them become obsolete in a year. Some are universal, and can adapt to almost anything. Find one of those.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

Juliette is the Head of Production at Movement Strategy, a social-led agency in Manhattan.

Cooper is a documentary filmmaker, photographer, and visual artist.


Read about more Pratt Pairs from 2018.