John Debenedet sees things a little bit differently than most other graphic design majors. Debenedet, a junior at Keene State College and a long-stick midfielder for the men’s lacrosse team, is colorblind.

“I’ve always known how to draw since I was little. I guess being colorblind hasn’t really affected [me] until I started doing graphic design,” Debenedet said.

The 21-year-old from Hamden, Connecticut said he never really knew what graphic design was until college, but his passion for drawing is what drove him to stay in the arts. 

”It’s pretty similar. There’s graphics and there’s text, so just being able to do that is interesting to me,” Debenedet said. “Being able to communicate a message is pretty cool because it’s powerful. You can make a difference in the world.”

Photo Editor / Tim Smith

Photo Editor / Tim Smith

Debenedet said that he can sometimes be hindered by the dependance on visuals in the graphic design field.

“As far as color schemes go, if a client wants a certain color or if a project requires a certain color, I need to use a friend to help me out,” Debenedet said. He also said how he uses the color scheme tool in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, two programs used heavily by graphic designers. The color scheme tool looks at the colors being within the user’s current project and provides options of other colors that work with the colors currently being used.

Debenedet tried to explain the difficulties he has with vision, but said that he has never seen true colors as everyone else does, so it’s hard to describe. He said that he can see primary colors just fine, but beyond that things get difficult.

“When it gets to shades and tints it gets really tough. Green and red are the worst, but also blue and purples get mixed up too,” Debenedet said.

Yuan Pan, professor of art and graphic design at Keene State College and Debenedet’s advisor, said he has known Debenedet for about a year. Pan said he doesn’t believe Debenedet’s work as a designer is affected by his condition.

“He’s a very hard-working designer and is talented with a lot of potential,” Pan said. “I haven’t seen that [his condition] be a problem in his growth as a graphic designer so far.”

Pan isn’t the only person who mentioned Debenedet’s growth. When Debenedet isn’t focusing on his schoolwork, he is putting in work with the Owls lacrosse team. He scored his first collegiate goal earlier this season against Bates College. However, Debenedet isn’t known for his goal-scoring abilities, but rather his work ethic, according to men’s lacrosse head coach Mark Theriault.

“He works hard every day; he’s a very intense player,” Theriault said. He also said that Debenedet has come a long way since his first year as an Owl and has worked his way into getting some minutes on the field.

Theriault also praised Debenedet’s ability to create a fun and positive environment for his teammates. “He’s a great guy. He’s always fun to be around, and he’s a great teammate,” Theriault said.

As far as his color deficiency, Theriault said he doesn’t see it affect the midfielder’s performance on the field, and Debenedet can attest. “First of all, I know my teammates pretty well,” Debenedet said, mentioning that the team’s chemistry makes things easier for him on the field. He also said that the distinct differences in the colors of the jerseys can make the game flow easier for him when he’s on the field.

“Normally it’ll be a white jersey and then the opposing team’s color, so that’s pretty easy to identify on the field,” Debenedet said.

When asked about how his condition would impact his career, Debenedet remained optimistic and said, “Honestly, it doesn’t really hurt me at all. If anything, this is something [that’s] kind of positive. It makes me unique.”

Crae Messer can be contacted at

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