Students' design skills aid Rockin’ for Relief
Advertising Agency students help local
musician aid flood victims
with work on iTunes cover and benefit concert
The first project pitched to students in Joyce Jones’ Advertising Agency classes was a special one.
High School Assistant Principal Scott Landry approached the classes looking for an iTunes cover for a local musician, but the project wasn’t that straight-forward. The design had to reflect the fact that proceeds from the song will be donated to the Schoharie County Hurricane Irene flood victims, but still agree with the aesthetic the artist had established with her first ITunes single. Oh, and by the way, the artist is 10-year-old local singing, songwriting and performing phenomenon Talia Denis, who with her band is currently being courted by major record labels.
And can he have it as soon as possible?
As soon as the pitch came in, Jones’ students began designing. Out of the nearly 40 designs - all of which were masterfully done, said Landry – one stood out: a pretty simple, yet powerful design by 16-year-old junior Taylor MacMillan.
“I tried to incorporate the hurricane symbol into what Talia was already using in her logo,” Taylor said of his design (shown at right). “I thought they would fit well together in a simplistic sort of way.”
Taylor, who has long been a freehand artist but only began designing on a computer last year, said he enjoyed the process of working with Landry on the cover.
“All in all, what you see now online isn’t too far removed from my original design,” said Taylor. “There were a few changes that Mr. Landry suggested, but that’s just part of the process. You have to remember that you’re working for the customer and no matter how much you may like something, if the customer doesn’t like it, it’s not going to work.”
Just like a real agency
Joyce Jones tries to make her 37 Advertising Agency students feel as though they’re already in the working world. The two classes take “jobs” from customers – usually teachers, town officials and community members – create speculative designs and then work with the clients until they reach the desired design.
Though the class does seem to do a lot of tee
shirts and posters, Jones said her students will tackle any project
provided it meets her overriding condition:
“If the project will be able to engage the kids’ creativity and design skills, we’ll accept the job,” she said. After that, not only do the kids put to use the design skills that they’re learning in class, but they learn all about communication as well, as they work with the client on the final product.
“We try to make it as much like a real ad agency as possible,” said Jones.
This isn’t lost on the students.
“It’s cool to have this real-life experience,” said Emilie Johnston, a senior in Mrs. Jones’ class. “It’s great to come back and be able to show people that your shirt or design was actually used for something.”
Senior Chris O’Keefe is working on a poster for an upcoming craft fair. He’s been on the “design path,” as he calls it, for the past three years – Advertising Design class as a sophomore, Digital Photography as a junior and now Advertising Agency – and has had Mrs. Jones for two of the three courses.
“We used to start off with Mrs. Jones’ projects,” he said, “but the course has gotten so popular, and people have seen how good the work is that comes out of the class, that now we have a list of projects to work on even at the beginning of the school year.”
Chris said the atmosphere in the class is supportive, even though the students go through the realistic process of “bidding” on and competing with classmates for jobs.
“At first, you feel like it’s a lot of pressure, but there is a lot of help in the class - from Mrs. Jones and the other students,” said Chris.
And, of course, Taylor MacMillan felt this pressure as he competed with 36 other students when he was designing Talia Denis’ iTunes cover. However, his situation was just a little bit different.