As I was approaching directing my first play for AUC I was provided with the contact information for the AUC Events office. Graphic designers in this office are responsible for all publicity and marketing materials for AUC events, such as plays, concerts, gallery showings, etc.

Well, this struck me as about the silliest idea in the world.  When you are on a university campus, in a department of the ARTS, it seems to me that there might be one or two hungry students who would jump at the chance to design publicity materials for a major university event.

I am a firm believer  that students work better outside of a vacuum.  That is to say, you will elicit the best work from students when they feel like their work can have an impact on more than just their GPA.  That what they do, even as students, can, in fact, make a difference.

I approached the head of the Graphic Design program, Professor Bahia Shehab about the idea of a design competition for the poster to my upcoming production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.  It was my belief that there were many advantages to a student poster design competition:

• Real world experience dealing with a client, pitch meetings, design discussions, tight deadlines, competition with others for work.

And for the winner:

• A professional resume credit

• Portfolio work (not just the design, but hardcopies of final poster, postcard, and program as well)

• Exposure to the community

• Hands-on experience taking a design all the way through the production process, pre-press preparation, printing, and distribution.

Professor Shehab was as excited as I was and wholeheartedly jumped on board, making the competition a final project in one of her graphic design units.

Rather than having one beleaguered, overworked staff designer, we had over 30 student designers, each with their own ideas, each working to develop a winning entry.

Selections were made by a jury of myself, Professor Shehab and designers from the AUC Events office.  The winner worked closely with Professor Shehab and the Events office all the way through the production process and was credited in the program for the play.  In addition, there was a special gallery showing for the winner and 11 other finalists during the run of the production.

This process was so successful, that Professor Shehab and I have made it a regular part of her curriculum and my production process.

The winning designs for the various publicity materials for the AUC mainstage productions of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and A Midsummer Night's Dream can be seen above.