BFA exhibit equips seniors for careers in design
Every semester, graphic designers enter ART 4393 Senior Exhibit as students and leave as professionals. Through time management, teamwork and hands-on experience, the course prepares graphic design students to develop an exhibition that reflects their creativity from idea to finished product. This fall’s exhibit is different that those in past semesters, since this is the first time students have had the unique opportunity to create for actual clients.
Sin Lucros, or “without profit” is the theme for this semester’s exhibit, reflecting the task that the graphic designers had of creating campaigns for local non-profit organizations. Some of these include the International Museum of Art and Science, the South Texas Literacy Coalition, and the Edinburg Public Library.
The public will be able to view their work at the opening reception Saturday, Nov. 17, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Art Annex located at 2412 S. Closner Blvd. in Edinburg.
These organizations cover the students’ printing costs and attend two or three meetings with students to give feedback on the design process, because the campaign materials will be used by the organizations in 2013. The clients also cover the application fee for students to enter their work in the Addy Awards, a major advertising competition coming up in January.
The instructor, Leila Hernandez, serves as a mediator between the non-profit clients and students. She guides the latter through the entire process from developing a concept to thoroughly executing the final work.
“The students have to create 10 to 15 pieces for the clients, like brochures, posters and invitations,” the associate professor of art said. “One student, for example, is designing materials for the annual College fundraiser at the IMAS. This entails putting together anything that they need to advertise.”
Creating promotional material for the organizations is only part of the major project these seniors have to complete for their concentration in graphic design. They also had to put together a portfolio that displays everything they’ve created during their time at the University and develop a professional process book, which is a compilation of the entire design experience.
The process book is made up of several steps. The mission statement for the organization they have done the design for should show the importance that the non-profit bears on society. The students’ creative strategy must be reflected in the design proposal, specifically detailing how and why they’re making certain materials. An elaborate design process needs to showcase all sketches, thumbnails and a clear evolution of not only the campaign, but of the process book itself. Finally, the students must prepare a 3-to-5 minute presentation that will be given on the night of the opening reception.
During the final stage of this senior project, designers had to actually put the exhibit together, which includes working with space and time management, preparing the gallery walls and properly installing the pieces in a way that allows for easy removal after the exhibit. The seniors were also in charge of publicizing the event, as well organizing the reception with music and food. Through all of this work, Hernandez has seen considerable growth in her students.
“Some of them I’ve had from the very beginning and I’ve seen their work develop over the years,” she said. “I feel very confident about this group because I’ve requested so much from them and they’ve been able to perform.”
One of these students is Kristopher Ryan Garcia, a senior graphic design major who is very excited to graduate. He has been drawing for years, and gathers much of his inspiration from music. A jack of many trades, he has worked as a cook, cashier, waiter and office assistant, and is currently interning at Blue Thing Media Group in McAllen, a company that provides consultation on design, marketing, advertising and IT (information technology) services.
“I can’t give away too much, but what I can say is that my partner Leah Lowman and I drew inspiration from Swiss design, which is very clean and overall gives our design a contemporary aesthetic,” the Brownsville native said.
As a part of the course, a requirement for the seniors was honoring 10 hours of work for the UTPA Galleries. The volunteer work could include doing graphic design for a gallery or helping prepare a gallery space by cleaning walls or painting.
Students were also able to help by taking part in mounting and dismounting a show, assisting during opening night and monitoring the gallery during hours of operation. Garcia and his classmates used this experience to set up the gallery this past weekend at the Annex for their upcoming presentation, careful to meet the required standards of quality, creativity and concept.
“We all have been working so hard for this and it’s going to be a spectacular exhibit that will be remembered,” Garcia promised.