Skip to main content
Success & Impact

Denzel Jones Leverages Communications and Graphic Design Courses to Start His Own Digital Art Business

Bringing his course work to life, Denzel Jones, BA '24, has created a portfolio of graphic design work including projects initiated both on and off campus.

Headshot of Denzel Jones in a blue button down shirt against a white wall

Written by: Luke Malanga '20

Published: May 23, 2024

Total reading time: 4 minutes

With a passion for design, Denzel Jones, BA '24, has woven his classroom experience with his personal and professional projects. What started as sketches of album art from his favorite musical artists, has evolved into a portfolio of design projects spanning company logos to t-shirts. This month, he’ll graduate from Saint Joseph's University as the owner of his own graphic design company. 

Illustration of Kobe Bryant
"Mamba Out" artwork by Denzel Jones, BA '24

“Design, digital art and digital media have always been interests of mine ever since I was a young child," Jones reflects. "Even before I knew what Photoshop or any Adobe software was, I was trying to emulate cover art of different rappers or R&B singers."

Upon enrolling at 

Saint Joseph’s University, Jones tried to decipher what major would best suit him. Initially, he started as an informational technology major, then an art major. After talking to various professors and advisors, he landed in the communication and media studies department. 

“Communications, specifically at SJU, is such a different and unique department considering they tackle many different types of disciplines — not just journalism, but in digital media and design. The courses are really diverse and I just kind of fell in love with the department,” says Jones. “With the graphic design minor that came in my sophomore year, I was able to mold a portfolio that I feel was conducive to my desired career path.”

Through his courses, Jones built foundational skills for his artistic eye and passion for design. 

“He’s just an amazing student in every way that you can imagine a student would be outstanding," praises William Wolff, PhD, associate professor of communications and digital media, who has seen Jones’ journey firsthand through multiple classes and projects. "He's dedicated to his learning and creativity, and always goes beyond in terms of the quality of his work."

In classes like Web Design and Protest Music, Jones’ ingenuity and commitment shone through. Wolff recalls Jones’ passion for experimenting with advanced coding techniques in Web Design and dissecting a complex song for a semester-long podcast project. 

"He always took things a step further, exploring new techniques and pushing the boundaries of his assignments," says Wolff.

Beyond the classroom, Jones’ entrepreneurial spirit propelled him to establish ZELARTS LLC, a venture that started as a personal endeavor during the pandemic but quickly grew into a thriving design company. 

Through ZELARTS LLC, Jones provides design services for various clients — making cover art for musical artists, doing mock ups for clothing brands and creating logos.

Communications, specifically at SJU, is such a different and unique department considering they tackle many different types of disciplines — not just journalism, but in digital media and design.

Denzel Jones, BA '24

In his Web Design class, Jones learned to develop a personal website. This newfound skill gave him the confidence to develop a website for his portfolio.

"ZELARTS LLC was a way for me to showcase my design skills on social media," Denzel explains. "But as I gained experience, it evolved into something more substantial."

Some of his clients include those he worked with through his communications classes such as Beautiful Social, where students have the opportunity to to complete media-based research projects with nonprofits and community-based organizations.

Through the program, Jones worked with Free Mind Entrepreneur Network, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that provides opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals. 

With Free Mind, Jones helped revamp their website, updated their logo and created social media templates for their “Second Chance Awareness Month” campaign.

Wolff highlights how the materials created by students throughout the communications department is much more public-facing than other traditional coursework.

"We're very much informed by the idea of rhetoric — how our work will be perceived and consumed by different audiences," explains Wolff. “It's not just what's happening within the walls of the classroom.”

Throughout his time as a student, Jones has taken his passion for design well beyond the walls of the classroom. As he nears graduation, he wants to keep growing ZELARTS LLC while finding a company where he can continue to expand his skillset in graphic design. He credits the experience in his courses for setting him up for success.

“While I had to be independent in learning my entrepreneurial endeavors, I know that SJU was a really big part of helping me with the content I make and continuing my learning into my business,” he says.