Rich Helfrich, instructor at the Youngstown State University Art Department, unveiled on Thursday that his graphic design students would have 24 hours to design a campaign for the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra.
For two weeks, Helfrich kept his students in the dark about the daunting challenge ahead of them and the client for whom they would be gearing all of their design efforts toward.
The secrecy was not without warrant — it was to give the students experience in crisis management and working as a team under those kinds of conditions. When asked why the WPO was chosen, Helfrich just said that it was suggested to him from various people in the department.
“This project is a vehicle for the students to give back to the community,” Helfrich said. “… It also gives them experience in creative teamwork, time management, conflict management — plus, it’s portfolio material.”
After weeks of anticipation and uncertainty, on April 10, the graphic design students filed into room 4057 of Bliss Hall. There they were addressed by the board of the WPO and Jack Ciarniello of the YSU Music Department. The students were told about what the organization does and what its goals were for the campaign.
The class was given requirements such as billboard displays, banners, fliers and even a website. It also needed to be persuasive to children, parents and young adults while also accurately presenting the WPO’s message.
Ciarniello was careful to specify to the students, that though all of the popular movies and video games of this generation are scored with classical music and instruments, they shouldn’t focus too much on just the children.
“Children don’t drive to concerts,” he said.
He said to consider their caretakers — the ones who would be taking them to the events. He stressed that in addition to enticing children to “drop the video game controller, the advertising should also persuade parents that it will be a worthwhile experience.
With very little time to research the organization — let alone create an entire campaign for it — the students were scrawling notes and eagerly asking Helfrich and WPO members questions concerning the details. But it was understood that most of the graphic design teams would be pulling all-nighters in order to complete the project, and Bliss was left open for them to use.
From 9-11 a.m. on Friday, the students presented their designs to the WPO members. Out of the five groups, Group Two’s project was the one the client selected. The group consisted of art students Douglas Starr, Paya Herron, Susan Rowe, Marc Scacchetti and Jacqueline Chavez.
Starr was also in the same group that created the winning design for the 78th Annual Student Art Show, which they called “Undiscovered.” However, Starr clarified that it was not the same group selected both times.
He was asked to specify the most important thing he learned from the experience.
“Don’t take sleep for granted,” Starr said, joking.
He added that it’s a valuable experience working with other creative people and using what he’s learned in a practical, real-world setting.