My Ah-Ha! Moment: How Real Client-Based Work Inspired My Career Path

by Hannah Clark, B.S. Graphic Design '18

In the fall of 2017, my Publication Design class at Colby-Sawyer had the opportunity to work with PermaCityLife on a project that would help further our understanding and skills of designing publications. For this project, Jenisha Shrestha – the Community Development Assistant from PermaCityLife – presented the idea of designing an Annual Report for the organization. With the appropriate text and professional photography given to us by Jenisha, each student was responsible for designing a comprehensive cover, inside layout, and back cover for this ready-to-print publication.

The overall Annual Report layout was to be designed in a way that would encompass the importance of PermaCityLife, and bring out the details and projects of the organization from over the past years. These layouts described who and what the organization is, their mission, what projects they have accomplished, who their project partners are, their awards and recognitions, and projects from the Sustainable Learning Initiative at Franklin Falls.

In our first meeting with Jenisha, our professor, Charles Gibson, entertained the idea of including a timeline that would visually represent the past workings of the organization. Agreeing that this would be an important layout to include in the Annual Report, we decided to dedicate as much time in to the timeline as we did with the whole report.

Working and learning along with Jenisha and PermaCityLife was a very important and gratifying experience for me as a student and as a designer. Even though I’ve personally had client-based projects in and out of the classroom, this project specifically helped me develop my designer-to-client communication skills and was overall a genuinely fun and rewarding experience.

Hannah Clark on the stone wall by CSC’s Center for Art & Design.

Hannah Clark on the stone wall by CSC’s Center for Art & Design.

Before this class, I had no experience in creating any kind of publication layout. During the class, we were given projects based on hypothetical concepts, including a textbook redesign, a magazine cover, and article layout. However, these were hypothetical, and not for any company or client in particular. With this Annual Report project, I was able to conceptualize and design a fully-functioning, comprehendible, and easy-to-read layout for a company that could potentially display my work outside of the classroom. It was an exciting experience; I found myself wanting to work on it in my free time. I really feel as though I put in more time and effort into this client-based project just because of how important client work is to me as a designer.

Looking ahead, I believe that this project was one of top reasons for me wanting to become a publication designer. It was a challenging process; starting with only a few pages of text and some logos. There were numerous photographs to sift through and translate the message of, in order to construct a full body of work to be printed, folded, stapled, and ready to read.

The message of the organization needed to be clear throughout the designs, not just the text. I feel more confident in my ability as a publication designer, and I am proud of having been able to encompass the overarching theme of partnership, cooperation, movement, and livelihood throughout my design of the Annual Report.

As a senior at Colby-Sawyer College, it was important for me to be able to work through processes like this and work comfortably with clients. I feel this experience has given me an extra boost of motivation and I look forward to what lies ahead for both me and the college. The engagement Colby-Sawyer has with clients like PermaCityLife, through the Sustainable Learning Initiative, provides a really great opportunity for students in all majors. I am thankful for what this collaboration has taught me and how I can apply this to my designs and projects with future clients.

Hannah Clark with the poster she designed for the senior art exhibition for graduating Studio Art and Graphic Design majors in the spring of 2018.

Hannah Clark with the poster she designed for the senior art exhibition for graduating Studio Art and Graphic Design majors in the spring of 2018.