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Currents: Graphic Design Majors

The Real Deal: Non-profit Coalition Chooses Student Logo for Identity

It's late on a Tuesday afternoon as Adjunct Professor Debbie Campbell's 12 students file in for her Visual Identity and Systems Design (ART 422) class. Finals are just days away, and the stress level of some students is clearly high.

As a reminder of what this group of seniors has been learning all semester, and what many of them will be doing in a few short months as working professionals, Professor Campbell announces the top three logo designs created for, and chosen by, their community partner, the Sunapee Area Watershed Coalition (SAWC).

The coalition, until now, has lacked a logo that represents its mission of raising community awareness of issues concerning the Lake Sunapee watershed and surrounding areas. SAWC's director, June Fichter, approached Colby-Sawyer last spring with the idea of having students create a logo, and Campbell immediately knew it would be a perfect project for her Visual Identity class. SAWC members recently viewed the students' work and voted for their top choices.

“This was their number one choice … number two, number three,” Professor Campbell says briskly, holding up boards that display both color and black and white versions of the logos created by the Graphic Design majors.

Jessica Hentz's inverted equilateral triangle was the top choice, followed by Courtney Bodine's and Justin Jaskiewicz's creations. “They're all pretty similar - they liked different shapes, but they liked the illustration element of each one,” Campbell tells the class. “We can clearly see they liked the contained shape with some kind of visual that represents the earth and water.”

Expectations Exceeded

Rattling off the size and color requirements of the files Hentz will need to deliver to SAWC, Campbell emphasizes that this is a real-world project – the logo will appear on the group's newsletter, Web site, brochure, even in advertisements in local media.

Analyzing Hentz's logo, Professor Campbell notes that the font can be modified as SAWC sees fit and points out that the control of a designer over her creation is limited.

Executive Director of SAWC June Fichter, originally scheduled to announce the winners but unable to attend class, recognized each student's creativity and effort by awarding gift cards to Jack's of New London. Hentz also received a gift certificate for ice cream at Arctic Dreams. “The experience of working with the students was great,” says Fichter. “They did an outstanding job and exceeded our expectations.”

With Fichter's explanation of SAWC's goals giving real meaning and purpose to the assignment, and with few restrictions on the design possibilities, Campbell's students enjoyed the work.

“I'm actually really attached to this logo,” says second-place winner Bodine, from Warner, N.H. “This was one of my favorite projects of the semester. A lot of designs, especially when you take your time with them and you're careful, it's hard to just let them go; they're like kids.”

SAWC's request for a friendly, clean logo drove first-place winner Hentz, from North Haven, Conn., to the internet for inspiration. “I went online to check out what similar organizations had come up with,” says Hentz. “Lots of organizations like logos that contain everything in a shape, and a triangle is slightly different – I like the equality of the three sides.”

Though Bodine and Jackiewicz had designed logos for clients before, this was Hentz's first professional job. That real-world element made the assignment all the more important.

“I had more drive knowing the logo would actually be used,” says Jackiewicz, of Nashua, N.H. “It's different when you know a real company and people beyond the professor will see it.”

Professor Campbell calls Hentz a talented Graphic Design major, and says that her ability to listen to what the client was saying helped her develop a logo that met their needs. “Her interpretation of a watershed, and her ability to illustrate one in a simple way, made her logo very representative and unique,” says Campbell.

-Kate Dunlop Seamans