As we celebrate another class’s successful completion of their academic careers at Beacon College, it is time to prepare to welcome new students to campus! One of the documents created over the summer for the upcoming academic year is the academic catalog. For the past several years, Sandy Novak’s Photoshop class has had both the honor and the challenge of being responsible for designing the cover for this important academic guide. The students in this course should be commended for their efforts. As a group, they produced about a dozen potential covers, any one of which could be considered well designed and representative of the College and its unique mission. Now, however, the field has been narrowed to three possible choices for the academic catalog cover, and the College community is invited to share their opinions and decide which one is the best fit for Beacon.
The Photoshop class spent an entire semester learning how best to utilize each of the tools offered by this software, and they worked on creating their own designs, making, for instance, their own unique magazines. All of this work, learning the tools, practicing their craft, and listening to feedback from classmates and Sandy all became valuable in preparing the class for their final assignment- designing two potential covers for the 2014-2015 academic catalog.
The introduction to the assignment involved a field trip to Ford Press. This is the largest printing press in Lake County, and they have been in business over 50 years. This is also the business Beacon College utilizes most often for printing needs, including, of course, the academic catalog. Owner Rich Kelley graciously welcomes Sandy Novak’s group each year, providing a tour of the facility and an explanation of what happens during the printing process. During the visit, the students were able to see the machines and people at work, which gave them an appreciation of all that is involved when they finish their part (the design) and send their work off to be produced professionally. Rich Kelley even showed the class how his staff handles the huge amount of workflow that they have to keep track of on a daily basis. Student Mikey Tabankin called this trip “a great learning experience. We see pamphlets, calendars, folders, etc. every day, and this field trip was like a backstage pass of how those items are made.”
The next step in preparing for the project included a class visit from Dave Brown, Registrar, and Dr. Shelly Chandler, Vice President of Academic Affairs, to explain their requirements and vision for the project. This provided the students an opportunity to experience what it’s like in the professional world, having a client that you have to make happy. Students were also able to ask questions to be certain they were clear on expectations. Information that they learned during this session included: the primary audience for the catalog (parents); what message the cover should convey (it should relate to the College, but there is a broad interpretation as the focus could be on the College itself, the services and mission, the sense of community etc. or it could concentrate on things like geographic location); the preference for stock photography versus one’s own (original art preferred).
The class brainstormed what Beacon has going for it, coming up with answers such as: the peace and charm of downtown Leesburg, the programs offered by the College, the sense of community and being welcomed by others, having a place to relate with others who have learning disabilities, the support services offered by the College, and the location, especially being close to Disney World. The students were advised that the panel would consist of the seven members of President’s Council and, as the clients, the designs needed to appeal to them. Students also discussed issues such as copyright laws, the need to use high resolution images, and the importance of designing for both the front and the back cover, keeping in mind the “bleed,” the part that would be cut during the printing process.
Once the class had listened to the desires of the client and had a chance to brainstorm ideas, they were ready to begin working on their creations! Each student was required to create two different designs. Some decided to make complementary designs, swapping out the main photo and dominant color, knowing the impact that a simple color change can make in the overall design, while others worked on two very different covers to give the committee completely distinct options. After spending a couple of weeks on this project, the students were ready to unveil their prospective covers to the rest of the class. Dr. Chandler made a return visit for this class session to give her perspective on the designs. With all of that feedback in mind, students once again returned to their designs for final revisions.
To begin the selection process, President’s Council was presented with the final covers and given the difficult task of narrowing the field down to three options. The students were assigned a letter to be identified by so there would be no risk of losing objectivity. Once the three final designs were determined, each one was provided with a title to distinguish it from the others. Voting was then opened to the Beacon College community. The poll is currently on Facebook, and viewers can see which design is receiving the most votes. Voting will continue through May 27th.
Clearly, students in the Photoshop class expended a lot of effort on this final course project and should be commended for their work! They were able to experience working with an actual client, and the student whose cover is selected will be able to see what it’s like to have his/her design used for a professional publication.
Here are the final design choices:
Please help select the winning design by voting through our poll on the Beacon College Facebook page by May 27th: https://apps.facebook.com/my-polls/trlvfv