Student designers showcase their lemur-inspired art

April 29, 2014 — With finals fast approaching, we wanted to thank the dozens of undergraduates at Duke and elsewhere who contributed their smarts to the Duke Lemur Center this semester. Biology and anthropology students weren’t the only ones to join us. In today’s post, designer and multimedia specialist Michael Faber describes a lemur-inspired assignment that his graphic design students tackled:

brown-sagmeisterWhen teaching graphic design to students, I’ve found that upping the stakes a bit encourages better work.

In my class, Graphic Design in Multimedia, I have an assignment each year that challenges students to design a poster in the style of a historically important designer. Each student in the class is assigned a different designer to study and then apply that style to the same poster contents. Having a uniform set of text and information for all of the posters is a great way to see a dozen or so different interpretations based on the wildly varying styles and eras of the designers.

This year, we decided to partner up with the Lemur Center to help promote Lemur Week and the premiere of the new IMAX movie “Madagascar: Island of Lemurs”. Having the students design posters for an actual event, where the possibility that their work could be printed and posted all over campus and downtown Durham, really brings out the best work from the students. Often in design class, we are making fake logos for fake companies and fake events, so it’s really exciting when the work has real-life implications.

The worMooring_alvin_lustigk that the students came up with was impressive. They were able to take inspiration from their assigned designer, but apply it uniquely to this challenging subject matter. They each took to heart the trope “Good artists copy; great artists steal”, by not copying the exact design elements from their inspiration, but pulling the rationale and design decisions and applying them to the new subject matter.

The Lemur Center was an excellent partner in the process as well. An important skill in becoming a good designer is the ability to talk about your work and sell it to your client. A few representatives from the Lemur Center came to our class critique, offering the students an opportunity to defend their work to their “client.” Niki Barnett and Greg Dye were able to offer some great feedback as well for the students to iterate on their designs.

Finally, after much deliberation, the Duke Lemur Center reps chose their top four favorites, which were reproduced and posted around Duke and Durham to help promote Lemur Week (and the students were awarded with some generous swag). I am incredibly happy about the partnership, and I hope to continue it again in future semesters!


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