Creating the Department of Art and Design’s Visual Identity

By Susan Gettlin | March 28, 2017
By Jeanine Barnes ’18

I am a junior working towards my B.F.A. in Graphic Design and Minor in Arts Entrepreneurship and Curatorial Studies. As part of my work-study at Arcadia, I am currently a graphic designer for the Arcadia University Art Gallery. For my Minor in Arts Entrepreneurship and Curatorial Studies, I am also completing a graphic design apprenticeship with Prof. Karen Misher, head of the Metals and Jewelry and Digital Fabrication areas, and the Department’s thesis director. My apprenticeship work consists of working closely with Prof. Misher to create the Senior Thesis Exhibition catalog.

Through my work-study job, I was invited to work with Prof. Matthew Borgen, Prof. Abbey Ryan, and Ryan’s fall 2015 student apprentices, Emily Delp ’16 and Steve Lewis ’16, on a campaign project for the arts. That project catalyzed a discussion about Department of Art and Design branding, as well as branding for the Arcadia Galleries. Starting in Spring 2016, our team worked on both visual identities, and the projects continued with Prof. Borgen, Prof. Ryan, and Ryan’s fall 2016 student apprentices, Leah Shaw ’17 and Kathleen Burke ’17. Our team’s work consisted of initial concept development, conceptual and visual problem solving, substantial research, and faculty and student feedback. Through ongoing brainstorming, discussion, critique, and collaboration, we finalized the visual identities. 

The best part of this valuable experience was the collaboration. Typically, design students work individually on projects in class. Although we conduct group critiques, ultimately, we are all working on different designs. Being able to collaborate on the same design made the whole process more fluid. We explored many more ideas and were able to take inspiration from each other’s ideas. Being able to work with a group of talented designers was a huge learning opportunity for me. We worked on designs both independently and together, which made it easy to work through different ideas and big picture concepts.

The hardest part of this process was creating a design that captured everything our department stands for. We wanted to capture the department’s relationship to the larger University—how our department is unique yet part of a larger whole. We’re such a diverse department, and we also wanted to capture that internal diversity as well. We wanted a design that felt fresh, yet somehow celebrated the more traditional feeling of Arcadia. With so many concepts, it was difficult to find a way to express them all in a single visual identity.

Through this project, I was able to confirm that I really enjoy visual identity branding, and would like to pursue that in my future. This project gave me a taste of what long-term collaborative branding projects are really like—the struggles and all. After I graduate, I would love to do design projects for big game companies, such as Blizzard or Riot. I think being able to combine hobbies and professions is a great way to guarantee your long-term happiness with your job.