Saturday Career Workshops: Graphic Design with Karen Cohn

Every spring and fall, the ADC welcomes a new group of local high school students to the gallery for our biannual Saturday Career Workshops. Started in the mid-90’s, the workshops are coordinated through a partnership with The School Art League and sponsored by a grant from the Coyne Group.

The program introduces high school juniors to a variety of creative professions while improving their skills through hands-on projects. “These workshops are really for students from schools that don’t have big art programs,” says Olga Grisaitis, Director of Operations at ADC. “It lets them know that this is an industry they can go into, and that there’s more to it than Mad Men.”

The spring season began this past Saturday with a lesson in graphic design led by Karen Cohn. The day started at 10 am – an early call for high school juniors and graphic designers alike – and after a breakfast of bagels and coffee, Karen gathered the group for a presentation on the fundamentals of design, focusing on the five primary components: shape, color, image, type, and texture.

After her presentation, Karen introduced the project of the day. The renaissance of vinyl albums has been embraced by graphic designers, who can have much more fun with a record-sized canvas than within the paltry dimensions of a fragile jewel case. In the spirit of this medium, students were asked to create their own record covers on 12”x12” paper.

Students worked in a variety of mediums, some choosing to sketch or paint while others collaged.

The assignment wasn’t restricted to music, and some students used their designs to represent a person, TV show, or city instead of a band. Andrew from the New York Harbor School depicted themes from The Walking Dead with an appropriate amount of simulated blood splatter:

After working for about an hour and a half, the students taped their pieces (in various stages of completion) to the gallery wall for a critique.

People explained the motivations behind their thematic and aesthetic decisions, and talked about what worked well in different covers. Andrew’s blood splatter got high marks for use of texture.

Karen gave tips on techniques that can be helpful in the design process, like when to use computer programs as an aid and when it might be faster just to photocopy. At one o’clock the gang headed home, with a final piece of advice from Ed Morgano (Program Coordinator for the School Art League) ringing in their ears: “Make sure to take some muffins! You can sell them on the train!”