Back to all news stories

Student Feature: Evan Parness on architecture, fashion, music and his intense drive to create

By Lilian Varner

Scythian Media

Evan Parness is a force.

A senior studying architecture and sustainability at University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Parness is also at the helm of two major arts organizations on campus

Though having been interested and involved in the arts throughout his life—for example, he designed theater sets at his High School in New York—Parness eventually found himself driven toward the study of architecture because of its ability to combine many different artistic processes and channel creative energy toward in order to work toward real world solutions.

Having started working with the student-run editorial print and digital fashion publication SHEI Magazine his freshman year as a “street style” photographer, Parness kept returning to the org for more involved positions. This year, Parness is the creative director for SHEI and has been able to collaborate more than ever before with many of the different students involved. 

“I’ve been really enjoying the role of Creative Director and getting to work with people across the organization, helping students produce whatever visions they have for content,” he said.

During his time at U-M, Parness has also been involved with the student-run record label Empty Mug Records, working as an artist, musician, videographer, and set and lighting designer before serving as the organization’s President this year.

Evan Parness.

Parness has found that his academic experiences at U-M have grounded his artistic abilities and ideas of architecture in a context of environmentalism and ecology and that the community he has found have served as crucial resources and connections across disciplines.

Now, after developing a creative process that depends on perfectionism, Parness explains that he prefers to work on group projects as they push him to work on being open to change and suggestions from others while still staying true to his personal artistry. 

“One of my theater teachers in High School would always say to hold on tightly to your ideas but to let go of them lightly, so I think it’s about being open and receptive to change in a collaborative process,” he said.

Listen to his full interview with Christina Shepich from U-M Arts & Culture, as he discusses his involvement with these organizations, how he became interested in the arts, his creative process and more.