Student group holds visual design show

Tim Jacobs

Freshman visual communication design majors wishing to see a glimpse of their futures now have the opportunity to do so.

The Cleveland chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Artists, through its Kent State student group, is holding an exhibition of student visual designs in the Music Listening Center on the second floor of the Student Center through today.

“This show is unique because it shows all classes,” said Gina Moraco, junior visual communication design major and vice president of the student group. “It gives freshmen an idea of what they’re in for.”

Exploratory students, as well as the rest of the student community, are also invited to visit the display featuring a variety of student designs that range from illustration to typesetting to book design to food packaging.

“It is a portfolio show . entries were open to everyone (in visual communication design),” Moraco said. “We got a good representation of projects coming out of the VCD program.”

An overwhelming majority of the works originated as classroom assignments. One set of promotional posters advertises for an array of offbeat, make-believe museums with such infatuations as hot sauce, brassieres and “pliable objects.”

Joe Cola, senior visual communication design major, who designed the poster for the hot sauce museum, said each member of his class had to bring in an object “for a museum campaign.”

“So I brought in hot sauce,” Cola said. “One girl brings in Play-Doh, and she had to (design posters for) a Museum of Pliable Objects. A guy brought in a catcher’s mask, thinking he’d get to do baseball, and he gets the museum of protective headgear.”

“In the real world, you don’t choose your clients,” he added.

This was the first year that Kent State’s AIGA student group hosted a gallery.

“Every year for three or four years, we hosted a meet-and-greet with work on display in the grad studio in the art building,” Monaco said. “This is the first year we heard about the (Music) Listening Room, and . the first time we’ve had an actual display.”

One did not have to be a member of the AIGA to enter a design for the show. Moraco said entry into the show was free and voluntary.

“We didn’t exclude anyone,” Moraco said.

According to the AIGA Web site,, the organization is a “professional association for design . committed to furthering excellence in design as a broadly defined discipline, strategic tool for business and cultural force.” Since 1914, the institute has grown from a “small, exclusive club” to include more than 16,000 designers in 55 chapters and roughly 150 student groups.

Rebecca Ehalt, senior visual communication design major and president of the student group, said that full-time students pay a one-time membership fee while still in school. Although membership is not mandatory to be a successful designer, “student organization members are encouraged to join nationals.”

“The whole idea (of the AIGA) is for designers to share ideas and make connections,” Ehalt said.

Moraco said that although all class standings are represented by the show, “much of the work is junior level and below” due to the program’s high turnover rate. She said that her class started with “well over 100 and now (has) roughly 42 people” in her junior level internship class.

Cola said that the high turnover isn’t surprising given the workload a prospective graphic artist.

“A lot of research is involved,” Cola said. “You need to know who you’re communicating to . once research is done, design takes a couple of weeks. We design from the beginning, but research it at the same time.”

“Everything here is made pretty much by hand,” Moraco said. “Everything is cut, pasted and put together — some books are even stitched by hand.”

According to the School of Visual Communication Design’s Web site,, the program is “the fourth largest major at Kent State University and one of the largest and most comprehensive in its course offerings in the United States.”

“I’ve been going strong the whole time, but it’s been a rough, rough road,” Cola said. “That’s what’s so rewarding about it.”

Contact College of Architecture/College of the Arts reporter Tim Jacobs at [email protected].