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York College Graphic Design student plotting a career in art

Jordan Tharpe, graphic design student

Wherever Jordan Tharpe goes, his hands aren’t too far from his smartphone.

It’s not because the York College of Pennsylvania freshman is addicted to social media — it’s so he can quickly access his smartphone’s camera. 

“The way I do my art, I’m just living life and going through it day to day, hour by hour,” says Jordan, a Graphic Design major. “If I see something, I just snap the picture and keep going.”

An eye for travel

Jordan, 19, grew up in a military family. As duty forced his father to move, Jordan and his family were along for the ride.

Starting from when he was a preschooler, his passport lists more countries than a person normally sees in a lifetime: He lived in Germany and visited countries from France to Italy and Poland.

Nationally, he’s visited nearly half of the country from California to his native Maryland.

“We just always had an opportunity to travel,” Jordan says.

The passion for travel came from Jordan’s mother, who insisted that Jordan and his sister experience the world.

“She wanted to expose us to new environments and arenas that she thought would help us growing up,” Jordan says. “She wanted us to make our own path and not shield us away from everything. Now I just can’t get enough of traveling.”

‘A big imagination’

Unlike his love of travel, Jordan isn’t sure when his love for art began.

His self-portrait was published in an art showcase book in 2011 and he won a poster contest for the Olivia Constants Foundation in 2018, but the passion began well before then.

“I’ve always been a huge nerd with a big imagination,” Jordan laughs. “The more I worked on art, the more I got hooked into it.”

He loved to draw and sketch as a kid, but two years ago, his passion drifted towards photography.

Jordan was on a trip to Ocean City, Maryland, with his family. He started taking photos on his phone for his senior portfolio at Meade Senior High School.

The photos turned out so well his friends thought they were stock images.

Years later, he seeks out the everyday beauty around him.

One of his favorite spots is along the creek that runs through York College. He’s taken photos throughout his time on campus to watch the scenery change.

Jordan’s focus recently has been on nature and, mainly, flowers.

“I just love the color they have, the form they possess and the different shapes they come in,” Jordan says. “Not all of them are the same. The flowers just pop in photos and they’re so vibrant.”

Planning a career

As he completes his first year at York College, Jordan is already plotting a career in art. He’s unsure of the exact job he wants, but he hopes to find one that combines his desire for travel and art.

He plans to purchase a professional DSLR camera and hopes to travel beginning this summer: First, a road trip and then a return to New York City.

Wherever he goes, he’ll always keep a camera on him, documenting and enjoying the trips as much as possible.

“I love seeing beautiful new places and enjoying the environment,” Jordan says. “I see places and things, and I just want to capture that moment.”

Learn more about our Graphic Design program.