Almost by definition, a course in graphic design— one of Bethel’s newest majors—requires hands-on work. For two students in the spring semester Graphic Design I class, this translated into experience with paying customers.
But for all seven students, the emphasis was on “what it’s like in the actual field of graphic design,” says course instructor Donalyn Manion. She is the communications coordinator for Bethel’s Institutional Communications office who spent 20 years as art director at Kansas State University.
The course requirements at Bethel were “similar to how I taught the graphic design interns at K-State,” she says. “They would come [to our office] having taken all the classes but they were missing knowing how to work with their clients and sell the design. They needed to know branding.”
So that was how she structured the course.
“From the first day, students were to imagine they were graphic designers in a studio, each with a client who needed a logo design.”
They were to develop black-and-white and two-color versions of the logo and, in addition, a graphic standards guide on how to use it. They had to work with the “art director” (instructor) on client research, idea exploration and concept development. The context for the logo could be real or imagined.
Brian Krehbiel, a junior from Donnellson, Iowa, is majoring in graphic design and business with an emphasis in marketing. His final project for Graphic Design I was a logo for “Bike Newton,” the Newton Bike Plan, an effort to encourage bicycle riding and use of the Newton bike path.
“The client, Lester Limón, contacted Donalyn and asked if she had a student who could work on a logo, a website and a folding map that showed local bike routes,” Brian says.
“I had done logo design with clients before, so this was similar. However, It was more in-depth than any project I’ve ever done.”
It was also his first brush with working for a group, since Lester was representing a committee.
Having a group as the client was also a new experience for Sondra Buller, senior from Aurora, Nebraska. She did a re-branding campaign for the Newton Area Senior Center, now called Grand Central.
Sondra, a graphic design major, had already taken Graphic Design I. She got her credit in Design Special Topics (typography).
Sondra’s assignment came after Donna Becker ’70, the chair of the Grand Central board, contacted Lori Livengood, Bethel vice president for marketing and communications, to see about getting a student to work with the center’s public relations committee.
Sondra has worked for a year as a graphic design student assistant in Institutional Communications, but this was her first time to work so directly with a client.
“Some of what was new: working for someone I didn’t know, coming up with the branding and then doing the branding,” she says.
She started out by doing research—interviewing the public relations committee and touring the senior center facility.
As Grand Central, the center needed a new logo. “Should it have a train theme or not? Should it have people in it, like the old logo, or not?” Sondra recalled as some of the main questions.
Along with that came a new brochure, new letterhead and a website. By the end of the semester, Sondra could show the logo, envelopes and letterhead, and a tabletop calendar that can be used to publicize upcoming events. The website was designed, though not yet implemented.
Pondering on what the experience had taught her, Sondra says, “I had to learn not to put too much in [to the logo]. I had to learn how to work with a group of people. There were four members on the public relations subcommittee and then they would show ideas to the whole board.”
“I learned to pitch the idea. My other projects had started with a baseline. For this one, I had to make the case for how my logo design conveyed their vision.”
“I had to work with the printer to get quotes, do the purchasing, be the intermediary between printer and client.”
“She’s been very professional about it,” says Donalyn. “It’s been great.”
Although not working so directly with paying clients, other members of the Graphic Design I class also had concrete applications for their final project.
Da’Ron Gillis, freshman from Balch Spring, Texas, came up with a logo design he’ll present to his family for their construction company. Katie Schmidt, graduating senior from North Newton, did several small items, including a proposed logo for the Environmental Action Club and posters the club used during spring semester to encourage water conservation on campus.
One class activity during the semester was a field trip to Mennonite Press “to see what happens between the time you send a design from the computer and the finished, printed piece,” Donalyn says. They learned about developing the “3D” aspects of their logos, including collateral materials, package design, publications and ads.
“I wanted to start them moving into real-world scenarios.”
“They should know what it’s like in the actual field of graphic design, to know that yes, I want to do this, or no, I don’t. I wanted them to know what it was like to be in a graphic design studio and work as part of a team, to follow a project all the way through to seeing a piece finished and a client happy.”