With plans to teach online this fall, Department of Design instructor Jan Ballard is adapting real-world projects that would otherwise happen in-person to preserve the level of practical experience gained by students in her upper level courses, Professional Recognition for Graphic Designers and Portfolio and Marketing.
Students’ success in these courses depends largely on the experiential process of creating original design work for real organizations or situations and interacting with clients, such as community organizations or even other students.
While initial meetings, periodic consultations and peer critiques for these courses would typically take place in a face-to-face, collaborative environment, Ballard says interactions will be shifted online via discussion threads and various digital workspace tools created specifically for collaborating and sharing designs virtually. What won’t be affected is the incredible learning experience for students.
“The design process is one of discovery, research, sketches, prototyping and submission,” said Ballard. “That will not change [this semester].”
Students in this fall’s Professional Recognition for Graphic Designers course will be able to participate in exciting projects like the branding of a mobile app to connect residents in Fort Worth food deserts with Tarrant County farmers; creating marketing pieces to support a new Fort Worth Public Library branch located in a nonprofit community center; and branding hypothetical retail stores in collaboration with TCU’s interior design program — part of a longstanding program with a professional design firm in Dallas.
Many of the projects that Ballard organizes for students each semester involve entrepreneurial ventures or community service, supporting TCU’s mission to educate individuals to be ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community.
“Employers have always commented on these specific projects and the ‘real world’ application in our senior BFA portfolios,” said Ballard.
Portfolio and Marketing — the capstone course for graphic design majors — formalizes each student preparing a portfolio of his or her work prior to graduation. A designer’s portfolio is a crucial element for those interviewing for internships or jobs because the included work demonstrates creativity and technical skills to potential employers.
This semester, graduating seniors will have the opportunity to develop digital branding proposals for the City of Fort Worth to support emerging neighborhoods like the Oakland Corners and Handley urban villages.
At the end of the semester, Portfolio and Marketing students typically participate in a group exhibition in Moudy Gallery. With social distancing in place, fall 2020 graduates will instead present their portfolios virtually much like the spring 2020 graduates.
Ballard has already received many enthusiastic responses from students about the plans for the upcoming semester.
“Thank you for all the hard work put into planning…I appreciate all the work and accommodations from the graphic design [program]!” said rising senior Sarah Cuttic in a recent email to Ballard.