FUEL Designers Guide Students at On Your Mark

On Your Mark, an event offered through the American Advertising Federation: Cedar Rapids-Iowa City (AAF:CR-IC), brings design students together for a day of learning.

Held on April 6th at Art Building West on campus at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, design students representing Kirkwood Community College, Iowa State, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, Mt. Mercy College and Coe College gathered for a day of learning and friendly competition.

FUEL designers John Allen and Rhiannon Montelius, along with University of Iowa designer Austin Montelius, were on hand to help coach the students throughout the day.

This year’s task was to develop an event identity for the Iowa Memorial Cup Race Series (IMCRS). IMCRS provides a connection between Iowa Bicycle Racing, Bicycle Advocacy, and Iowa communities to improve awareness of safety for future cyclists and to showcase the unique racing opportunities across the state.

All of the students divided up into different teams to ensure that the students would collaborate with individuals they didn’t even know prior to the competition. In addition, the client and task were not revealed until just before the opening bell sounded to begin.

“With Slack, FaceTime and other social networking mediums such as Instagram or Dribbble, creatives seem to have more opportunities to collaborate with fellow creatives than ever before,” said John. “Yet as a result, we rarely have opportunities to come together in the same room for a project. Sketching with pencils, splicing, pasting inspiration, and critiquing face-to-face is such a valuable part of the creative process. Today at On Your Mark, students participated in the fullness of that process… together.”

“The students got to have some hands on with a real logo project for a real client,” said Rhiannon. “It was inspiring to see them all work together across colleges. I was amazed by their energy and eagerness to work together in such a collaborative environment, when traditionally colleges are focused on having the students work as individuals.”

As the day progressed, John, Rhiannon, and Austin coached the students during their team huddles/critiques to continue to challenge and encourage them in their work. Our goal was to enable them to think for themselves, but we also cultivated an environment where students considered new possibilities.

“It can be intimidating as a student to look out into the ‘professional world’ and think you’re not good enough,” said Rhiannon. “But I believe if we as ‘professionals’ can show them that they are good enough and that everyone is always learning and growing, they can become more confident in themselves.”

Toward the end of the day, each team presented their final artwork to their client (Ben Anderson from IMCRS), surrounded by an auditorium of students. Awards were given out for the Grand Winners, Judges Choice, and Team Player (the individual who collaborated best with their team).

“When a group of people can come together from all these different experiences and backgrounds and create something together, I feel like the outcome will always be an amazing thing,” said Rhiannon.

John continued: “An event that brings together a diverse community of students for a day celebrating design is rare in this area. Seeing the students from a variety of schools team up and collaborate together was really inspiring to me as a professional. I had the wonderful opportunity of seeing their specific skills put to a collective effort and that’s an unforgettable experience.”

In addition to the competition, the event also offered the students “Portfolio Reviews Local” with feedback from local designers, photographers and videographers, as well as a Printing 101 Workshop led by Justin McDonald from Cedar Graphics.

All told, it was another successful day of fostering community, learning some new tricks along the way, and most importantly, having some fun.

Bill Bollman
Creative Director

Bill Bollman is FUEL’s Creative Director. Before co-founding FUEL in 2001, he worked for Horizon Communications, JW Morton and Basler Design Group. Bill studied Illustration at Hawkeye Tech in Waterloo, Iowa. An expert in the “old ways” of hands-on print production, these skills influence his work in the digital world to this day. His work throughout his career has been featured in international publications including Graphis, How International Design, Communication Arts, and The One Book as well as numerous design annuals and reference books.

Hometown: West Union, Iowa
Involved in Design and Marketing since 1988
Interests: Fitness, Travel, Movies