Design students face job market

Graphic designers and advertisers are among the first group to receive the ax amid a troubled economy said Northern Kentucky University Art Professor Provin Sevak.

Many companies have scaled back advertising ventures following Sept. 11 creating even more competition among a traditionally large pool of prospective clients.

NKU design graduates, in particular, face competition from several design schools in the tri-state including the University of Cincinnati’s Design, Architecture, Art and Planning program (DAAP), which was named the number one public design school in the world by International Design Magazine.

In an effort to ensure NKU graduates an edge in today’s job search, Sevak has encouraged many of his students to develop their own style, an approach that contrasts with UC’s teaching methods, he said.

“UC’s graduate portfolios are identical to [each other]. All student portfolio are more or less having a very standardized format in terms of the kind of the work,” said Sevak. “That doesn’t give much platform for design graduates in the market when they go for job search.”

Sevak also said that students who have taken design courses at UC before attending NKU noticed a major difference in the overall teaching styles. The professors at NKU allow students to explore and experiment with their strengths and skills, he said.

Over the past two years NKU’s graphic design students have been offered assistance from an outside organization called the American Institute of Graphic Artists or (AIGA). Composed of seminars, workshops, lectures and reviewers, AIGA helps students by sharing design knowledge and lending valuable insight into the job market.

Sevak also said designers have a very important part to play in today’s society that goes beyond pure aesthetics.

“[A] designer’s role is not just to work or use their creativity for selling a product or work for the commerce,” he said. “They have another aspect, to use their knowledge and creativity to . . . help better society.”

With help from his colleague Professor Steve Meek, Sevak developed a multimedia campaign project dealing with social issues.

Students choose an issue and resolve it by using visual communications as a tool.

Multimedia approaches have included television commercials, newspaper and magazine ads covering popular issues like racial discrimination, adoption, teenage suicides and sexually transmitted diseases.

Jason Stover, for example, displayed a campaign pertaining to STD prevention at his senior art show last week. One of the artworks showed an image of two bananas, one ripe and the other spoiled. Underneath them read, “which one would you put into your mouth?” The message is, be sure your partner is healthy before having sex.

On the technical end, the university has done a good job with providing funds to purchase up-to-date software for the art building computer labs, said Sevak. Also, more classes like Web design and digital photography have been recently added, although they’re not required to earn a Bachelors Degree.