Graphic design students bring senior showcase to social media

April 27, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Unable to host their senior capstone showcase as an on-campus celebration of their work with family and friends in attendance, graduating students in the Graphic Design undergraduate program in the Stuckeman School at Penn State are turning to Instagram to highlight their design work in a creative way to an even larger potential audience during the week of May 4-8.

According to the branding guide the students developed for the event, “The Class of 2020 Senior Show will be exhibited as a temporary Instagram takeover of the Penn State Graphic Design account.”

The class is taking advantage of the platform’s grid-style display on account profile pages by collaborating to create and share content that will spell out the group’s theme of the show, “Defying the Unexpected,” when scrolling through the page.

Each of the 18 seniors will create their own post that begins with a design they created of the character in the theme they represent, with “the” being counted as a single character. Three to five highlight images of their design work from different media, such as packaging, website, branding, motion and print, will follow, along with a photo of themselves.

Color palettes and fonts, as well as format and caption guidelines for the posts, are outlined in the branding book in order to maintain a consistent look and feel throughout the show.

Rodney Allen Trice, professor of practice, said it was up to the seniors to decide if and how they wanted to handle the showcase, which typically serves as the culmination of their work at Penn State, given the current provisions the nation is under during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As soon as I knew the senior capstone show was canceled, I turned this into a design problem for the seniors to solve, making it clear that this is the terrain they are stepping into and being able to solve this dilemma would be the best way to show the world how resilient, clever and ready they are for ‘the new normal’ now and post-pandemic,” said Trice. “This senior show is ‘all them’ and I am very proud of how strongly and effectively they addressed the current weird world we live in right now and they didn’t let it stop them. They are an awesome group of designers!"

As a class, the seniors agree that while they are deeply disappointed that their college careers are ending without the typical fanfare of an on-campus show, followed by graduation festivities, long good-byes and photographs around campus, they are still proud of the work they have accomplished and how far they have come as designers during their time at Penn State.

“In a time where in-person gatherings have been postponed and delayed, we've seen a lot of brands turn to social media in order to host events and engage with their audiences,” said senior Ben Pietrusinski. “At its roots, the goal of the senior show is to retrospectively show our work to alumni, potential employers and prospective students. Utilizing Instagram in the way we intend, we're allowing the viewers to see our work at their leisure, as it organically appears in their feed."

Senior Kylie Radick said that while the year came to an abrupt and unexpected end, what hasn’t been surprising is the way her classmates have come together to finish their final year of studies at Penn State.

“This program has not only given us amazing opportunities, but it has gifted us with outstanding faculty who have taught us to be prepared for anything,” she said. “We are all so thankful for the knowledge that we have gained, the experiences that we have been provided and the lifelong friendships we have made.”

The Penn State Graphic Design Instagram account (@pennstategraphicdesign) is managed by officers of the Design Association and is passed down to the next group of student officers year after year.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 27, 2020