Maryville College graphic design students have seen it all while working with the Clayton Center for the Arts: anteaters waiting tables, larvae doing acrobatics, even penguins playing musical chairs.
MC students enrolled in visual communications/graphic design II have spent the last several weeks working under the direction of Adrienne Schwarte, assistant professor of art, to produce a marketing poster for the CCA. The poster will be used to advertise the CCA’s upcoming presentation of Imago Theater ZooZoo on Oct. 13.
Cheri Compton, the CCA’s director of marketing, met with the students at the beginning of the project to brief them of her expectations regarding the advertisement.
“I did meet with the class and gave them some images and of course logos and things,” Compton said. “We talked about colors and my vision for what I wanted.”
According to Compton, the posters will be distributed throughout Blount and Knox counties.
Schwarte explained that the opportunity to produce a piece that will be observed publicly is an important element of the project.
“[The students create] a poster that’s theirs. It gets to be used and promoted, and is something that the Clayton Center takes on as an identity, as a part of their own.”
While the students do receive grades for their work on the marketing posters, Schwarte asserts that the entire process serves more as an important learning experience. Schwarte begins introducing similar professional models as early as freshman year in order to prepare students for professional work outside of MC.
“I think it is critical for [students] to be able to start as early possible working with clients,” Schwarte said. “When you get out into the field, part of a designer’s job is communicating to clients things about what they do as a professional and about the process of design.”
As with the ZooZoo project, the students have improved their design skills as well as their professional communication.
“We have Cheri come into the classroom as a client,” Schwarte said. “[This interaction teaches them] what kinds of things to ask a client in order to know exactly what they’re looking for, [in addition to the opportunity] to create something from concept to completion.”
After completing the ZooZoo project, the students will continue to study in a similar structure. For her visual communications/graphic design II course, Schwarte incorporates “projects into the class that are focused on things that the CCA has as marketing goals and projects” in hopes of nurturing a symbiotic relationship between the College an the CCA.
“We try to do a lot of collaboration with the CCA,” Schwarte said.
According to Compton, this collaboration is graciously welcomed.
“It certainly helps me in the fact that I have students who can get some real-world experience and it’s not a big, expensive outlay for me,” Compton said. “We are on a limited arts budget because we are a non-profit … It’s sort of a win-win situation.”
Graphic design students who continue to progress in their arts study through internships in the MC design lab will continue interaction with clients, but on a more diverse level. The students will work with familiar clients, like the CCA and MC’s theater department, as well as outside sources such as area non-profit organizations.
“They’ll do this every day, with different clients every day, and they’ll have these new meetings and new experiences on a consistent basis,” Schwarte said.
This continuous interaction has been Schwarte’s primary objective in the last six years of teaching design courses at MC.
“The more they can get familiar with that process … it will be much easier for them when they’re applying for internships, when they’re looking for potential job opportunities,” Schwarte said.
The chosen poster design is currently displayed on campus and throughout Blount and Knox counties. For questions regarding the CCA or Imago Theater’s ZooZoo, please contact Robert Hutchens at [email protected].