Interactive media and graphic design (IMGD) students at Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud began to plan ahead for the winter holiday season this summer when the St. Cloud Downtown Council (DTC) asked them to design logos for their annual winter Nights and Lights Parade and Santa 5K Fun Run.
When assigned the task to reach out to a nonprofit for design work, interactive media/graphic design student Enid Archer contacted the DTC and discovered it had a long wish list revolving around the winter parade festivities, including posters, letterhead, rack cards and brochures.
IMGD Program Chair Brandon Bombeck says that watching the students work through the process with the client has been a valuable experience. “It is nice to see them designing projects for real nonprofit organizations. They are getting more real life experience on what it could be like working in a real design studio.”
He added, “This has also been a great way for them to learn how to communicate with both a design team and their client in order to produce a product by a certain deadline.”
The fact that the finished product was meant for an organization affiliated with the city and that it would be seen by 10,000+ people added a layer of pressure to the project.
IMGD student Tabatha Nentl was well aware of that weight. “I do believe we felt like we had more of a stake in the project because it was being done for a local community organization, and that it would be seen throughout the St. Cloud area. Although they [DTC] knew they were working with college students, they expected high quality work [and] that was good for us,” she explained.
Archer agreed. “Of course, doing logos for the city was intimidating, but [it] also came with extra reward because our logos are going to be seen all over the city in their advertising!”
Bombeck feels that the professional expectation was the best part. “[The students’] design is going to be used for a lot of different things in a lot of different ways all over St. Cloud,” he said. “And that should give them a great sense of pride and accomplishment.”
Working with a real client has its challenges, Nentl noted. “We quickly found out that it was not possible with the limited time that we had to be able to complete all of the projects.”
In the end, design changes had to be completed after the class project was done, and Archer stepped up to finish the finalized design to the client’s liking.
“Overall, the finished designs for the parade and fun run were well done and met the client’s needs and approval,” Nentl reflected. “We, as a group, liked our original designs better, but understood that they did not meet with [the client’s] need to bring children into the design more.”
Real world lessons, indeed.
Bring on the snow!