Checking out the competition

I recently judged digital designs for the University & College Designers Association’s (UCDA) annual competition, and the experience was an eye-opener. Unlike print design competitions where judges meet on location and review entries together, the digital judging was done remotely from our office computers. I was surprised at the amount of time it took to evaluate each entry. Unlike a print piece that can be sized up fairly quickly, a digital entry may require several minutes of study before getting a well-rounded picture. All in all, it took me several hours a day for about three days to complete the judging. This meant hours of tedium that were occasionally interrupted by a few gloriously smart and moving experiences.

After all three judges submitted their results, UCDA provided us with a spreadsheet compilation of our votes. I was astonished to see how closely we agreed on the award-winning work even though we had no discussion with each other while voting.

What makes an entry an award-winner? For me, the exceptional work did one of two things—it had an emotional impact on me and/or it taught me something. When design fails to make us feel or learn, there is not much reason to pay attention. When we shine, the work we do in educational marketing stands up to the best out there. That’s quite an achievement when you consider that schools rarely have the extravagant budgets of the corporate world. It proves, once again, that throwing money at a problem doesn’t solve anything. Great ideas, however, can and do.

Here are links to several competition entries that inspired me:

Website
Vassar Admissions
University of California
Arts at Stanford

Online magazine
Brenau Window

Video
Chatham University
Oregon State University
Simon Fraser University

Here is a complete list of gold, silver, and merit award winners. The digital entries are on the last page of the list.

A Child’s Perspective

The Mexican studio Y&R was tasked with developing a series of public service announcements about child abuse for the Spanish organization ANAR. The problem they faced: how do you reach out to abused children without alerting the adult abuser as well? Their solution seamlessly integrates two messages into one poster, each tailored to the intended viewer.

Lenticular printing is not a new technology; it’s been used in an array of products to simulate motion, depth, or animation. What is striking about this campaign piece is the conceptual use of the technology. From the adult’s perspective the child in the ad appears unharmed, juxtaposted with a simple message, “A veces el maltrato infantile solo es visible para el niño que lo sufre” (At times child abuse is only visible to the child receiving the abuse.) This double entendre reinforces one concept and serves as a subtle warning for aggressors. From the child’s point of view an altered photo and message are revealed; the same child is depicted showing signs of abuse with the message “Si alguien te hace daño llámanos y te ayudanermos” (If someone is hurting you call us and we’ll help). Watch the following video for an explanation of how this is done.

Timely templates

Powerful imagery and a highly flexible template provide a framework for a wide range of materials we designed for Johns Hopkins’ new capital campaign, “Rising to the Challenge.” Shown are a foil embossed pocket folder, the overall case statement, case statements that are specific to each school and division, and one-page insert sheets. Many of these items are designed for print-on-demand so that gift officers can order the right number of brochures with their own contact information printed on them.

A Ground-breaking Moment

Late in 2012, the New York Times published a multi-media story called Snow Fall, The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek. If you have not yet seen/read the story, we are happy to introduce it to you here. Snow Fall is a ground-breaking moment in multimedia journalism, one of the first articles to illustrate the dynamic possibilities that occur when new media are thoughtfully integrated with the written word. As you scroll through the story, stunning animated graphics, slideshows, and video interviews add clarity to the unfolding drama. My favorite graphic is the vertigo-inducing flyover of the Cascade Mountains with ranges and ridges graphically delineated. What is particularly exciting is that the visuals enhance the story rather than overwhelm it. In fact, the story runs for a whopping 10,000 words, which is well over the copy count of most magazine articles.

I predict that Snow Fall will mark a change in the way we do multimedia storytelling. The possibilities are as vast as the northwestern mountains.

Suite Idea

The great minds at Pantone are at it again. Now you can eat, sleep, and breathe color at the Pantone Hotel in Brussels, Belgium. Created to appeal to itinerant designers and other creative professionals, this hotel takes picking your room to colorful new heights. Each floor displays a distinct color palette and walls are adorned with photos and oversize PMS chips. Contributed by GCF intern, Rebecca Madariaga

Join us at the UCDA Design Summit

In March, Brenda Foster will be speaking at the UCDA Design Summit. Interaction between designers and clients can be frustrating, unproductive, strained, at times even antagonistic. Clearly, it doesn’t need to be this way. Clients and designers are both focused on creating success, but they approach the problem from two different corners. Brenda’s workshop, Dangerous liaisons: Improving designer/client relationships, will provide insights into the client/designer dynamic and ways to create a smoother path to a shared goal. Topics include gaining respect, getting the attention of the gatekeepers, building trust across the generation gap, appreciating differences, and working with difficult people. Brenda has more than 23 years’ experience on the front lines with both clients and designers and has learned how to successfully mediate between the two. Registration is now open.