Raw deal: College outsources branding

By BARBARA KOLB

The senior show is the culmination of four or more years of education and training. It’s a chance to announce to the professional community, “Here I am and here’s what I can do!” The senior show has the potential to start my career off on the right foot. It is an activity I am deeply invested in with hopes of a high return. So the changes that have been made to the senior show have captured my attention and stimulated my opinion.

There are aspects about the upcoming CREO show that I, as a participating graphic designer, am very excited about. I like the combination of the fashion, fine arts, graphic design and interior design departments under one umbrella. I applaud this formation of unity within the Mount Mary College creative community because it attempts to maximize the potential opportunity for more people to attend the show and see the work produced by numerous talented women.

I also believe the college, led by the marketing department, has done a decent job of balancing the weight of the fashion department’s influence in this show. At the onset of this new venture, I wasn’t too sure if an equilibrium among all four departments was important to the college because so much of what happened in the planning stages was dictated by fashion.

For example, the fashion students established the theme, Evoke. Then the other departments were instructed to develop a word and a statement based on that theme. I found myself frustrated because I was not playing a decisive role in the plans for my senior show. I worried that this opportunity to exhibit my portfolio would be a waste of time because few graphic design professionals would attend an event marketed as a fashion show.

Fortunately, the college, led by the marketing department, has met the challenge to mold four stepchildren with similar interests, but very different personalities, into one cohesive family unit. And, as it often is in real life, when one of the four talented children receives the most attention, the resulting imbalance can cause that singled-out child to assume she has authority over her siblings.

In this situation, fashion is the group that typically attracts the largest number of attendees and brings in money to fund the show. But, they are not the only “stars” of this year-end event. So while there are advertisements that primarily showcase the fashion department, such as mmagazinemilwaukee.com, announcements such as the one found on visitmilwaukee.org are very attentive to the involvement of all four departments.

But, there is one large area of contention that continues to rub me raw. It has been the norm, the tradition, in past years for the senior graphic design students to design the invitation for the fashion design, fine arts, graphic design and interior design senior shows. That tradition ended this year with the use of an off-campus marketing firm, 2-Story.

Six talented senior designers participating in the show, me being one of them, are weeks away from entering the professional arena. My education has included working directly with real-world clients, branding a business, designing a logo that supports that brand and completion of numerous invitations. I am banking on the premise that this education has built a strong foundation from which I will grow my professional career.

To say I was disappointed by the loss of the expected opportunity to design the invitation as well as the loss of the unknown opportunity to brand CREO would understate my reaction. Yes, in some ways it was a relief because I could focus more on my preparation for the senior show. But to have this golden opportunity ripped away from me undermines the conviction

I have that my talent and skills are top-notch. I feel the college is essentially telling me that it has no confidence in my ability as a graphic designer. If that is true, then the college must also have no confidence in its graphic design program and the instructors that educated me.

The women being educated on this campus are an invaluable resource that should have been tapped for the branding of CREO and the complete production of the invitation.

I challenge the college administration to stop and consider the message their decision sent to the graphic design students. Do you truly believe that you are equipping women with a quality education? If so, let us use it.

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