By Chelsea Elzinga
The Seattle Pacific Art Center exudes a sleek and professional art gallery persona more than ever this week: An oversized leather ottoman sits in the middle of the exhibition space and the showcased pieces lay graphically arranged against the walls, illuminated by dramatic spotlights.
It has designer written all over it.
Last night, the graduating design students at Seattle Pacific University opened their showcase exhibit From Crayons to Concept. Seventeen student oeuvres are now displayed for the public to see, side-by-side, in horizontal panels along the gallery walls. Each panel is filled with artfully arranged print, web, and illustration work that includes examples of type magazines, package design, brand systems, promotional materials, event posters, album covers, info graphics, the list goes on. The pieces are truly eclectic and, although allowed limited room to breath, the space they do fill is lively and vibrant.
Given this potentially overcrowded space, the problem-solving nature of a designer is put to the test. With so much visual information vying for the viewer’s attention, competition is fierce not only within the individual’s panel but also between all seventeen panels. At times, aesthetics are challenged.
In an arrangement of multiple products with different personalities like those of Emily Dionne or Candice Nagel’s showcases, various color pallets and diverse line styles contest the cohesiveness of the grouping. Illustration-heavy portfolios like Tracey Ige’s and Mandy Hough’s feel more at home in the gallery setting than other arrangements because of their fine art leaning. Consistent color schemes and less diverse materials and medias give a strong sense of the designer’s personality in the work of Brie Milligton and Perry Azevedo’s portfolios.
One over-arching design item consistent throughout the show is a rebranding system for the 2012 London Olympics. Banners, tickets, website design, subway posters, billboards, and other promotional materials have been thoughtfully and creatively redesigned by each senior. The vibrant cross-cultural and global themes of the Olympic games are knit into the visual culture of London with eye-catching results expressed in beautiful and diverse modes by the individual designers. The show as a whole gains in quality points with this noticeable thread that the viewer can easily recognize and engage.
As a whole the goal of From Crayon to Concept is to showcase the journey of a developing creative. The students’ visual histories are not as visible as the “Crayon” aspect of the show’s title indicates. The connection to the past is sometimes emphasized in a personal photograph here or a child’s handwritten note there, as in the case of Willy Bravenec’s showcase, although the autobiographical and youthful memoirs are lacking in most designer’s collections. While unaligned with the show’s title and the exhibit’s welcome message that claims “Each of us have taken time over the past few months to rummage through old photos, look at our visual histories, and observe not only what influenced us, but also what was inherent in who we are” it doesn’t at first appear so.
To be fair, however, the role of a designer is not to necessarily put one’s fingerprints all over one’s work in obvious and blatant ways. No, these graduating students have certainly recognized for themselves the intrinsic nature of the development of their personal mark in their work, even when working on the same product like the Olympics. This personal understanding makes for a dynamic and intriguing exhibit in which each creative mind has communicated his or her unique taste and conceptual perspective with the effortless appeal of a burgeoning designer.
Visit the show at http://crayonstoconcept.com/