Graphic design communication seniors this week presented their plans to promote civic holidays to officials from the National Constitution Center, who selected the top winners from the semester-long project.
“We were incredibly impressed,” said Stephanie Reyer, vice president of exhibitions and design at the National Constitution Center. “For us, trying to find innovative ways to engage our audience is a constant challenge. You all took risks and really pushed the boundaries of design,” she told the students.
For the project, the National Constitution Center challenged students to promote civic holidays and increase visits from Philadelphia residents by developing comprehensive design systems, including poster campaigns, print publications and digital applications.
“It’s the biggest, most complex project they’ve ever touched, but it really prepares them for the rigors of the capstone,” said Frank Baseman, graphic design communication program director. “They’ve proven that they can really deliver. There’s an overall level of professionalism and it’s stunning.”
After the Dec. 10 presentation in the Lawrence N. Field DEC Center, the following students were awarded for their exceptional work:
First Place ($300) — Eric Lacy
Second Place ($200) — Jessica Eversmeyer
Third Place ($100) — Sarah Driban
Honorable Mention — Tabitha Ahnert, Bruno Forcine, Elizabeth Dell, Thomas Howley, Laureen Wong
In his winning design, Eric Lacy drew inspiration from cartoonist Gary Larson’s quick joke style as seen in “The Far Side,” a popular 1980s and ’90s single-panel cartoon. “I wanted to do something that appealed to late elementary and early middle-school children, as well as their parents,” he said.
Judges said they loved the wittiness and humor of Lacy’s hand-drawn illustrations depicting George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River, the three branches of government and air pollution.
Student Luis Ledesma created National Constitution Center branded activities for children, such as a puzzle, word search and origami fortune-teller game containing fun facts about history. “My app design for the iPad mini would contain digital versions of these activities,” he said.
Elizabeth Dell used eye-catching text with a Philly spin, such as “Speak softly and carry a big cheesesteak,” to draw in her audience. “I wanted to combine some popular phrases with some historical phrases,” she said.
Samantha Deluca targeted an audience between the ages of 20 and 40 with her “We the People Celebrate” campaign. She said the most exciting part of the project was working under real-world constraints dictated by a client. “I tried to focus on the Constitution Center’s needs and understand their targeted client,” she said.
Through the project, students not only honed their design skills but gained real-world client experience and exposure to potential employers.
“We would gladly welcome talent of their level at the NCC,” said alumnus John Pugh, who has worked at the Constitution Center as an exhibition designer since graduating from PhilaU’s graphic design communication program in 2010. “There are some posters that we can take off the table today and put on a bus shelter tomorrow.”
PhilaU’s reputation for excellence in graphic design education is well known by industry professionals.
Pugh, who volunteers at local American Institute of Graphic Arts events providing portfolio feedback to students, said “Whenever a PhilaU student comes to your table at feedback, you can tell their portfolios from those in other design schools in Philly.”