Forty second-year students in NC’s Graphic Design program were tasked with a six-month long project creating a wall mural to engage a dynamic and diverse audience – their own College community. Their client was none other than NC’s Be World Ready (BWR) program.
“Be World Ready is a key part of Niagara College’s internationalization strategy. The Graphic Design students have developed some amazing options to revamp BWR branding and further engage our students,” said Sean Coote, director of International. “We are excited to use the work of our students in our BWR promotion and marketing.”
Beginning the Fall 2018 term in their Ideas and Images course, students engaged in a design process called a ‘think tank’ while working with their client, BWR. Current NC students provided feedback on thevdesigns via the program’s website to help student designers optimize their work. The opportunity exposed Graphic Design students to the two-way client relationship to help prepare them for their future careers.
“It was our first opportunity to work on a concept for a client and develop professionally in a new way while working in a team toward a common goal,” said Graphic Design student Jess Veltri, who with Abby McLellan, designed the winning BWR mural. “As a team, we found ourselves discussing our travel and career dreams which only ignited a thirst to look toward the unknown and showcase that through our design.”
Having led seven BWR International Field Study (IFS) trips to New York City, Alicia Tyson, School of Media Studies professor, gave her class useful insight into this flagship learning opportunity at NC and the learning outcomes of the project. The students continued their mural design project with BRW into the winter term in their Critical Issues in Design course. These designs would colour the walls in the hallway outside of the Segal International Centre at the Welland Campus.
“From a creative standpoint, working in a team is not always an easy endeavor. It certainly provided challenges: working cohesively, presenting our own unique ideas, problem-solving, reflecting on the big picture, and then moving forward to project completion,” said Veltri.
For McLellan, part of the joy was exploring other cultures and discovering icons and places that resonated with her classmates. “I enjoyed watching them recognize ones that were from their home,” she said. “The goal of graphic design is to make the message open to everyone no matter your background, culture or ethnicity. As designers, we have a responsibility to accessibility.”
Created by students for students, the project celebrates diversity, new relationships and personal growth, expanding the student’ understanding of various cultures and countries in the process. This May, the top four mural designs are on display at the Welland Campus Library and Learning Commons.
In the coming months, students’ work will be shared in print and on social media. The murals were also designed to be interactive, allowing viewers to scan a quick-response (QR) code to read about the designer group’s vision.
Not only did students have a chance to design for BWR, now they’ll have a chance to take part in an international experience. Group members of the top four mural designs were awarded BWR IFS trip scholarships, and two group members will be awarded a BWR summer opportunity.
“This fully immersive experience is a huge addition to the students’ portfolios and they’ll carry it with them for a lifetime,” said Tyson. “After the Graphic Design students realized that they themselves were the audience, they had to be self-reflective of their own beliefs and culture, and recognize the diversity at Niagara College. The BWR partnership was a perfect fit from beginning to end.”