Homecoming weekend is a time to reflect upon what a campus and a school means to its alumni, current and future students. Using experiential learning and a research-based design processes, Kent State University’s School of Visual Communication Design (VCD) students will use Homecoming weekend to reflect on its graduate programs for the purpose of creating marketing materials to highlight its unique characteristics. Fifteen graduate and senior undergraduate students will be charged with designing flexible and customizable marketing materials to showcase the VCD Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs. The results of this seminar weekend will address every aspect of the design process – from research, to concept, to production.
VCD Kent State alumni and adjunct faculty members Jason Bacher and Brian Buirge designed the weekend seminar in collaboration with Professor Sanda Katila, VCD Graduate Coordinator. The seminar was developed after primary interviews and a comparative analysis of materials used by competing institutions were conducted. The pair’s design firm, Work, employed creative problem solving techniques to incorporate the school’s vision, mission and ideals in their approach to process and design, while remaining within budget.
Unique to the VCD graduate program is its emphasis on research-based design, exemplified by the thesis requirement in the MFA curriculum. Market research is often used to identify audience perceptions of programs and to determine what information should be communicated for greatest impact, but a key audience input – that of the current student – is often ignored. This experiential graduate seminar will provide an opportunity to incorporate the students’ voice in the design process. The creation of program materials will be a culmination of the school’s ideals in practice. Initial research identified five areas of key messaging that students in the seminar will address in the materials: community, collaboration, leadership, personalization and experience.
Buirge said a challenge of the weekend seminar is the tight time constraints. “We’re asking students to visually communicate the five key ideas with limited resources and without relying on text,” he said. “We want the students to experiment with images, photography and a conceptual development of design work.”
Bacher and Buirge’s team will document the experience to create print and video components explaining the innovative aspects of this design process.