Kutztown University Communication Design students created free designs for 48 local non-profits during the 14th annual 24-hour Designathon from March 29 to 30.
Designathon has provided $1.25 million in design services to participating non-profit organizations, not including this year’s event, according to CD department chair Denise Bosler.
“Designathon provides an amazing opportunity for students to do a project from start to finish,” said Bosler.
“More than anything, we are most impressed by the quality of design that our students do,” said CD professor Vicki Meloney.
Designathon 2019 attracted the participation of about 100 current KU students, 30 alumni, nine faculty and their department secretary, all working to complete projects for 48 non-profit clients.
Participants, including myself, really gain the full experience of a real-life time crunch and deadline during this event that starts at 6 p.m. on Friday and concludes at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Designathon begins in the Academic Forum where students, alumni, faculty, and clients cluster together for an introductory presentation. After that, students relocate to the common area of the Academic Forum where they then hold professional style meetings with their clients to find out exactly what they’ve envisioned. Once that’s over, that’s when designers work to make the clients’ visions come to life.
Students huddle together in teams either in the computer labs on the CD floor or in secluded nooks of the art building. Each team generally has its own designated person per task.
For example, my own team of KU juniors was assigned a musical group, The One People Band, who was looking to create a website to promote their brand. Hannah Hornung created the website; Madison Woodruff created the band’s logo; Morgan Nadin created decorative elements for the site and I was in charge of all the body copy (textual content).
The One People Band, organized by Daphne Goldberg, consists of some of Paul Simon’s bandmates, members of Sting, and even one of Adele’s pianists. The eclectic style band centers their beliefs around ideas of peace, unity, and environmental preservation and recruited our team to put together their project.
“There’s nothing about the product that isn’t professional,” Goldberg said.
“In some ways, it’s better,” Jonathan Dichter, one of the bandmates, added. “You’re students so you’re still humble,” as opposed to professionals who are often strictly results-oriented.
The completion of our project not only encompassed the new website, which was the initial request at the start of the event, but also consisted of some T-shirt designs and business cards, created by teammates Nadin and Woodruff.
“To be able to get so many people to collaborate and create and have an actual finished product that’s good is just amazing,” Goldberg said.
Design students work alongside their professors as well as KUCD alumni during this event.
KUCD alum, Andrew Cygan, spoke about what Designathon truly does and represents for both volunteers and clients. In 2017 while a KUCD student completing his undergraduate degree, Cygan served as a team leader creating character designs for a fundraising project for the Kutztown Community Library.
“The biggest thing about Designathon is being involved with an organization that probably can’t afford a designer and are doing the best they can. They are really appreciative in a way that other people generally aren’t,” he said.
KU May 2018 alumna Lily Stamm, now working as a junior art director at a healthcare agency in NYC, has been volunteering at Designathon every year since her sophomore year at KU. Her junior year she served on the same team as Cygan, working on the Kutztown Community Library design.
“We really ran with the project,” Stamm said. “And having the organization just absolutely love the end result after all the ups and downs of the entire process is always a great feeling.”
Kutztown Community Library Director Janet Yost also talked about that 2017 design.
“It really makes us look professional,” she said. “It’s just wonderful that they do this.”
Some of the most dynamic projects KUCD students have completed for the local library, in addition to the fundraising chicklets, are their design for “1000 Books Before Kindergarten,” the design for “Keep the Ball Rolling,” which enables the library to keep on a full-time youth librarian, and the Keith Haring inspired mural on the outside of the building.
This year's library Designathon project was "Kutzopia - the little town that has it all" for the library's T-shirt fundraiser.
Designathon takes place in the spring semester every year at Kutztown University. To find out more about this annual event and see some of the student products, visit http://kucd.kutztown.edu/designathon/.