EDMOND — Virtually every college student completes at least one major group project at some point. But most students don't see those projects plastered all over campus.
Not so for a group of University of Central Oklahoma graphic design students who recently completed a major project to help the university raise awareness on campus about an upcoming visit from UCO's accrediting agency.
Chance to shine
The university is gearing up for a visit from representatives from the Higher Learning Commission, scheduled for the fall. As a part of those preparations, university officials tapped Inktank, a class in UCO's design department, to create materials such as banners, T-shirts and posters to promote the visit.
In order to maintain their accreditation, universities must host periodic visits to campus by evaluators from the commission. The idea behind the project was to get students, faculty and staff to look at the visit as an opportunity rather than a burden, said design professor Amy Johnson.
“This is our opportunity to shine,” Johnson said.
The project took about a year to complete, said Chelsea Stewart, the lead student on the project. In the beginning, the group developed major elements for the campaign that would be used on all of the materials, Stewart said.
The group selected geometric, beehive-like designs to serve as the main element of the campaign. Johnson said that design was meant to convey an idea of the structure the university offers, with a certain degree of flexibility.
Once the group had settled on the important elements of the project, each of the members drew small thumbnail sketches as models for what certain materials might look like. During projects like this one, Johnson said, designers tend to produce a huge volume of thumbnail sketches — Stewart produced about 100 sketches herself.
Once the thumbnail sketches are in, Johnson said, the group looks over them and decides which to keep. Nearly all of the ideas end up in the trash can, she said, with only a few surviving.
One of the most difficult factors that goes into deciding which ideas will work is trying to predict how each idea will translate to other media, Johnson said.
What works well on a banner might not work on a shirt, she said. Every different medium has a different format, different material and a different size and shape. Those differences could affect how well each design works, she said.
Stewart said she learned quite a bit from the project, particularly how to work with other designers. Students tend to be hesitant about working in groups, she said, but collaboration is essential in the design world, so learning how to work together is critical before students go to work in the real world.
“Collaboration is one of the most important and difficult things a student can learn,” she said. “It's tough, but when you get through the muck, it's great.”