What’s the best way to inspire an audience? Be fearless, and cut to the heart of the matter. Santa Fe University of Art and Design wanted to show a fresh side of Santa Fe for their fall recruitment campaign. We knew just where to start.

The 12FPS team landed on SFUAD’s campus, searching for inspiring students to interview. That’s how we discovered Samantha Fe, a fine arts student who was hard at work in the ceramics studio. “I’ll show you how I throw,” Samantha said, settling at her pottery wheel and sending a slab of clay whirling. As the setting sun sent golden rays through the studio’s open doors, she conjured an elegant vase and told us how she came to SFUAD.

Santa Fe University of Art and Design - Potential Elevated Future Created - 12FPS

“Growing up, I did a bunch of art things,” she says. “My grandma was an artist and she taught me how to do watercolor. I was always playing in the mud and experimenting with clay.” It wasn’t until community college that Samantha actually imagined herself as a professional artist. Her teacher recommended SFUAD, and she found an array of scholarships that allowed her to take the leap. “In Texas, there’s a lot of really big art programs, and I didn’t really want to be around that,” Samantha says. “SFUAD is small, more intimate. Whatever idea I have, my professors always support me.”

Living in Santa Fe has helped Samantha connect with a network of professional artists. “Santa Fe is a huge art community,” she said. “I’m really getting to know different ceramicists in the community, and being introduced to different arts.”

Santa Fe University of Art and Design - Amy Liz West - 12FPS Recruitment Campaign

As the students enthusiastically passed us through their network, it wasn’t hard to find stories like Samantha’s. Amy is an award-winning student filmmaker, design majors Mariah and Darnell started their own digital fashion magazine, and Sam is a talented banjo player who plans to perform at South by Southwest after graduation. Madeline, a performing arts student and recipient of the prestigious Robert Redford/Milagro Initiative Scholarship, became the star of the recruitment video—and our interview with her shaped the script.

As we followed our subjects and photographed their day-to-day lives in Santa Fe, a compelling portrait of the school and its surroundings emerged. The City Different is known for its sweeping vistas and strong art community, but these students had tapped into an underground, metropolitan scene of hip cafes and wild nightclubs. In the final campaign and video, we used quotes from the students to reveal this unexpected new angle. Real-life storytelling shapes everything we do!

Check out the campaign on Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s website, and learn about our subsequent spring campaign for SFUAD here.