June 21, 2021

Amid a global pandemic and everything else 2020 has brought to the world, finding the light is sometimes a challenge. Second-year students in the graphic design program at Conestoga College were challenged to make their own. 

Students were given the task of meeting with clients at Idea Exchange to design a light display on the old post office in Cambridge. To create this 30-second video projection, students spent a rough total of 16 hours working, using a template of the building for measurements and visuals, creating three digitally sketched concepts, and making them come alive using Adobe After Effects and Illustrator.

The concepts then had to be approved by the client and the students’ professor before they could begin working on the project, to be displayed March 26 to April 12, but postponed because of COVID-19 to Oct. 2 to Nov. 1, 2020. 

“A lot of effort went into the creative process, because we’ve never done something like this before,” said Kristen Boyle, a third-year graphic design student and artist on the project.

For her display, Boyle chose the cheshire cat, a character popularized by Disney’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, a family classic: “The cheshire cat has always been a favourite of mine from growing up, and I knew this audience was going to be for kids, for family, it’s something that everybody could enjoy, and everybody enjoys Alice in Wonderland.”

This project was something of a learning curve for the students who created the display.

Jenny Blass, third-year graphic design student at Conestoga College, was also featured in the final product. She said she was challenged in expanding her skills in animation software.

“As a graphic designer, you’re not only coming up with creative ways to design and form graphics, but you’re also thinking logically about how to use the tools in animation based software,” Blass said. “If I could do something differently it would be training and practicing motion design further. Although it was a challenge, it did help expand my skills.” 

For Boyle, meeting with clients was something new, but also a highlight of the project. “We got to show them what we made, and see their reaction, we got some feedback, and then seeing your work alive on the building, I thought that was cool.” 

The project was a good experience for the students in helping them learn something new and expand on existing skills, and also something that will allow the students to be ready for their future in the field of graphic design. “Doing this project opened my eyes to what graphic designers could really get into, I didn’t think that was something graphic designers did, I thought it was a totally different thing,” Boyle reflects. “It opened my eyes to the possibilities of this career choice.”

The final product was not only a beautiful and fun display of colourful designs and creative animations, it was the result of a collaborative effort by students and teachers in Conestoga’s graphic design program.

“Overall, everyone coming together and seeing different takes on the project was astonishing! I remember it being emotional and inspiring,” Blass said.

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