Sponsored by SCAD
The signs are all here. From an inspirational motto stitched into a chain link fence, to poultry-centric museum exhibition signage, to collateral for one of the world’s most revered classical ballets, the work of these SCAD students is more than worthy of attention.
As Duke Greenhill, SCAD chair of advertising and graphic design says: “At SCAD, we’re committed to advancing the potential of communication arts in everything from corporate branding to public art installations. Our students are citizens of the world who understand that notions of communication are being transformed by globalization and technology. Underpinning their work is a commitment to what’s good for all of humanity. It’s a privilege to represent the faculty that works with them, and an inspiration to see their stunning work.”
From the more than 100 degree programs offered at SCAD, alumni from graphic design, illustration, and advertising are currently employed at Apple, Airbnb, CNN, Facebook, and the National Football League, and at leading start-ups including Liist, Streamlytics, and Jointly.
The following three undergraduate (BFA) and graduate (MFA) projects represent the excellence of SCAD’s communication arts programs.
ANTHONY TUNGNING HUANG, “LA BAYADÈRE”
For Anthony TungNing Huang (MFA, illustration, 2021), taking Graduate Printmaking Processes with professor Curtis Bartone in the winter of 2020 proved to be a transformative experience. “Printmaking taught me to slow down,” says Huang. “I learned how to be more sensitive to values and textures. Becoming a printmaker changed me as an illustrator.”
The on-ground printmaking class gave Huang the chance to work alongside students majoring in a wide range of disciplines, including interior design, painting, and fibers. “It was fascinating to see how everyone’s background manifested up in their work, even when we were all working with the same materials.” When winter quarter concluded, Huang began to work on his senior thesis project largely from his apartment, without full access to studio tools during the pandemic.
“La Bayadère, my master’s thesis project, is a poster for the ballet La Bayadère, also known as The Temple Dancer, adapted from the Indian poetry drama by Kalidasa,” explains Huang, a Taipei-born Taiwanese-American who grew up in Shanghai. “My thesis, under the guidance of my thesis chair, professor Arden von Haeger, combined traditional media and new media together to create the poster. With La Bayadère, I tried to mimic some textures from printmaking. I used monochromatic tones to create a classic feel. I used the form of a ballet dancer to express the grace and sadness of the whole show. I used a sans serif font to echo the logo of the theater itself.”
Intriguingly, Huang was on a path to become a professional ballroom dancer before being waylaid by injury and turning towards visual arts. His sensitivity to movement is apparent in his work. “La Bayadère is one of the best ballets in the world. It’s about love, it’s about revenge, it’s about forgiveness, and it’s about closure. One reason I chose it is because of the history of the story, which goes back to Asia and ancient cultures. It makes me understand a connection between India and my culture and my work. The more I grow up, especially now with globalization and the internet, I assume a world citizenship. I want to connect ancient cultures through my work, and make it modern.”
Huang’s horizontal design can be cropped to create a billboard, flyers, or other promotional collateral. (His thesis was a speculative design for The Royal Ballet.) “Each new image still belongs to the whole. It’s still telling the story, and the style of the visuals is the same. I challenged myself by creating a huge image, with more information inside, and a sense of movement by using dancers’ bodies. And I used environmental elements, symbolic flowers like the lotus.”
Huang acknowledges another SCAD class, Business and Professional Practices in Illustration, as influencing his thesis: “As an artist, it’s important to show who you are. But as an illustrator you also need to work with the client. Trying to make your client see what’s interesting about your work and who you are, and how that will make their product more successful, that’s something I learned at SCAD.”
USMAN IBRAHIM, “KEEP IT BUSY”
Forsyth Park is the heart of Savannah’s bucolic urban landscape, a place where locals, tourists, fitness enthusiasts, and socializing students go to enjoy being outdoors in the middle of the city. In the past couple months, anyone walking around the perimeter of the basketball courts will have seen a striking message stitched in yellow its perimeter fencing: “Keep it busy.” This public art is the work of SCAD graphic design student Usman Ibrahim.
“The initial prompt from professor Michael Mikulec was to go on a dérive—an unplanned journey through an urban landscape,” explains Ibrahim (MFA, graphic design). “The purpose of the dérive was to find a location in Savannah for creating an environmental poster that spoke to my experience. On my walk, I came across the fence and it felt natural to use that as a grid. I considered other options but kept gravitating towards my initial idea of creating blackletter typography within that grid. The words ‘keep it busy’ came from a freewriting exercise. Although they were written in a specific personal context, I picked them out so that whoever came across the piece could make it their own. It might offer some inspiration and motivation to keep doing what they’re doing.”
Ibrahim’s work was borne of creative freedom spurred by the prompt for professor Mikulec’s class User-centered Strategy and Process. It took approximately 15 hours for Ibrahim to complete the installation, working by hand in the hot sun and fielding intrigued questions about his purpose from passersby.
The next steps were to deconstruct that environmental poster and its process to create a digital print poster and a motion poster. “Those posters were inspired by my process and the painstaking time and effort it took to weave the ropes into the fence,” explains Ibrahim, native of Karachi, Pakistan. “The idea is in the words as well as the form of the poster.” Each poster has a unique form and medium but is connected to the same idea and visual style.
“This project was about seeing how an idea can be explored in different media. To take inspiration and generate multiple ideas, then converge on what worked or felt right. It was about becoming more comfortable with creative freedom, something we as designers both dread and crave.”
Ibrahim will return to SCAD in fall 2021 to begin work on his master’s thesis, using graphic design to address the history of Pakistan and how external influences from colonialism through globalization affect his home nation’s identity. “I want to address our visual identity as a community. We cannot lose the idea of having something to add to the discourse of the world.”
IVAN DELGADO, “SUCCESS IS A SLAUGHTERHOUSE”
Ivan Delgado takes playing chicken to the next level. Delgado (BFA, graphic design, 2021), who graduated summa cum laude this spring, created Success is a Slaughterhouse, a speculative exhibit intended for the imaginary Museum of Sustainable Systems [MOSS] that exposes the consequences of mass poultry farming on people and the planet.
“This exhibit ironically portrays chickens as the most successful species on Earth due to their massive popularity among human consumers, leveraging corporate imagery and jargon to construct the satirical argument that chickens take pride in their own slaughter,” explains Delgado. “Visitors ‘meet the beak’ and explore the ramifications of factory farming from the perspective of the birds.”
Humorous if morbid copy and hand-rendered illustrations enrich this exhibit with a powerful and distinct personality. To engulf visitors in the world of these business-minded chickens, the visual identity of the exhibit extends from outdoor promotion to print materials to gift shop take-home packaging, with slogans including “Meet the Mug Behind the Meat.”
Visually, the identity is unified through a bold monochromatic color scheme and a distinctive type treatment that blends woodblock typesetting and a charged, hand-lettered scrawl. Thematically, this identity is inspired by farmer’s almanacs, the covers of Time magazine, woodblock prints, and Yuval Noah Harari’s essay Sapiens.
“As a visual communicator, I believe design must serve as a source of confidence and transparency in an increasingly convoluted world, and I embody this mentality through my words and my work,” Delgado says. “I'm inspired by the stories of those I meet every day, and I strive to always imbue my projects with a sense of empowerment.”