In the Loop
Student Stories : Nov 4, 2014

Graphic design students learn real-world application with RecSports project

By Chloe Weber

Though art and going to the gym don’t always seem to go together, Associate Professor Brian Slawson found a way to unleash his graphic design students’ creativity through a poster design project focusing on UF RecSports’ programs.

The project required students to design four 18” x 24” awareness posters that each focused on a different topic—strength, teams, recreation and the student’s choice. Additional direction came from meetings with Andy Howard, assistant director for marketing and communications at RecSports.

“Andy really helped us understand what they do at RecSports and what it can mean for students at UF,” said Michael McAleer, a graphic design junior. “He was able to shed a lot of light on the subject, so I felt like I was approaching the problem from a very educated point of view. That's exactly what we have to try to do as designers in order to reach a successful solution.”

After the ideas were sketched and designed on the computer, Slawson emphasized the editing process. He required students to narrow their designs to one favorite using personal opinions and peer reviews, which was a task that proved to be difficult for the students.

“The hardest part was rejecting three ideas that I had spent hours working on in favor of finishing the idea that was strongest,” said McAleer.

Once each student chose his or her strongest design, he or she was tasked with effectively presenting it. This included exploring large-scale printing using color plotter printers and deciding the most important aspects of the poster to highlight during a four-minute presentation.

Slawson has been assigning this project to his graphic design students for about 15 years, and though the collaborations have changed throughout the years, students always end up creating work worthy of placing in their portfolios.

“The subject matter has always been something local so that the students can easily do original, on-location research or photography,” said Slawson. “The overall intent is for the students to explore a range of visual and conceptual approaches and generate a set of four unique directions.”

Howard also notes that RecSports not only receives high quality work, but also student awareness of their facilities.

“I saw the project as an opportunity for art students to explore campus recreation offered through RecSports and knew, in exchange, I could offer support for their work if they wanted access to assessment data, media permits or access to facilities,” said Howard. “I was pleased to hear so many of the designers engaged in direct research, site visits or tried out the programming for themselves.”