Graphic designers demonstrate abilities at Design on Main

Ashley Green

ISU graduate students helped people better understand the field of graphic design Oct. 10 and 11 with a gallery at a downtown studio.

Master of fine arts graduate students recently filled the lower half of the Design on Main building, a local art studio, with their work, which was on display for the public.

The event was part of the Ames Area Community Tour that allowed people to tour studios across Ames.

Jennifer Drinkwater, assistant professor of art and visual culture and community art extension specialist, showcased her own art in the project and extended an invitation to others in the College of Design to show their own.

Samantha Barbour and Meriesa Elliott, both graduate students in graphic design, displayed their work in the studio.

“We started setting up the studio to be a little more inviting and set up things that the community could be involved with,” Barbour said.

Many of the displays were interactive, such as a sandbox that was designed by Elliott with the help of her husband. The sandbox demonstrated water runoff and taught people how to prevent runoff in cities and farms.

The two also used the gaming software Unity and an Xbox Kinect to project dancing visitors onto the walls as stick figures.

“It’s more for interaction design about the user and emotional design,” Elliott said of using the Kinect.

The end goal for Elliott, and her thesis, is to use interaction design to grab people’s attention and raise environmental awareness.

“It stays in their mind longer than just a poster or anything that’s static,” Elliott said. “If it’s emotional, it will attract you, and if you can interact with it, you will share it.

A news video for a Fareway project that was completed by students was shown. The students who created it were from a behavior-change course and were given the opportunity to create a new brand for Fareway’s venture company — Midwest Quality Wholesale.

Visitors were introduced to the Wish Census project. This project collected wishes, hopes, fears and needs of people as a census to highlight that other people are out there who may feel the same way.

About 90 people attended the free-to-the-public event. The event attracted a crowd of graphic design alumni, parents and prospective students. Parents were particularly surprised to see what the field encompassed.

“A lot of times you have family members that don’t really get it, they don’t understand what graphic designers are,” Barbour said. “They just think you go and make a brochure or a logo and that’s what your day job is.”

Some older members of the community also came and engaged with the interactive work.

While the event was set up by Barbour and Elliot, it displayed more than just their work. It showed the public what the entire department at Iowa State is capable of and aimed to diminish the logo-and-poster stigma graphic designers face.

Barbour said events such as this could potentially lead to a student being offered a job or internship.

“We actually had people walk in and ask us about specific jobs that day and if students would be interested in working on them,” Barbour said.

Design on Main is also a workspace for both graduate and undergraduate design students. Master of fine arts students use the building to work on their thesis and projects. 

This is the first year graphic design students have had a room of their own in the building.