Design students get real world experience in graphic design class working with local companies, on-campus RSOs

Charlotte Bodak/Staff Photographer Ferndale senior Cecelia Bethuy and Grandville senior Andrew Russo work together on designing a logo for the non-profit organization Solar Cycle Light in ART 334 Wednesday afternoon in Wightman Hall.

Students are gaining hands-on experience with clients as part of a design class on campus.

ART335: Design Bureau, taught by assistant professor of art and design Jonathon Russell, brings in clients from the community and university and allows students to design work for them.

"The premise of the class is to give students the chance to work with real clients while still in school," Russell said. "As the professor, I try to find clients to work for. At the beginning of the year, the clients come in and give presentations of what they are looking for and what they are interested in."

At the start of the year, students were broken into groups of three and were given two clients competing in the College of Business Administration's New Venture Competition.

From there, students work on setting up meetings and work on logos and presentations for their clients.

"A big part of this class is for students to learn how to do group work," Russell said. "Many times in the professional world, most of the work they will be doing will be in groups. It's important that the students learn that now so they are ready."

Grandville senior Andrew Russo said the real clients make this class very different from other design classes.

"Instead of creating designs and getting graded, we are actually meeting with clients," he said. "We set up all the meetings and do all the work ourselves. The only thing that makes it like a class is that we are graded on the quality of our work, but, besides that, it's like a real work experience."

Once the students are assigned their New Venture clients, they are also put into groups of six that work with either the art department, Moore Hall TV, News Central 34 or the non-profit group Starry Night.

The groups work in a variety of mediums when designing for their clients.

Students working with the art department use traditional print media, as well as designs for a phone application. The groups working with Moore Hall TV and News Central 34 are working with moving graphics, as well as standardizing the graphics to give both groups a more professional look. Students working with Starry Night work with business cards, letter heads and logos for other print media.

"I am in the group working with News Central and MHTV," Russo said. "It's pretty exhilarating to think that I'm actually doing work that will be used professionally by a company in the community. I think it will look really good for my portfolio, and, if I am applying for a job in the area, I can show them the design my group made and how it was used in the community."

The hands-on experience is very valuable and an advantage over other design students, Russell said.

"(My students) definitely have an advantage, because they have built working relationships and learned how to be professional about their work," he said. "A lot of work like this is about compromising with the client, and students learn how to balance their work while maintaining a good relationship with their client"


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