Article: Arts & Athletics: Collaboration by Design

Arts & Athletics: Collaboration by Design

Murray and Woodard with students Aidan Babcock and Finn Atene

Opportunities are rare for graphic arts students to experience the real creative challenges faced by professional graphic designers. Students in Churchville-Chili Senior High School’s Digital Imaging class enthusiastically embraced a chance to compete to design the cover art for the 2022 New York State Athletic Administrators Association (NYSAAA) Annual Conference program.

The NYSAAA is a state professional organization administered by and for high school athletic administrators dedicated to promoting professional growth and enhancing interscholastic athletics for all. C-C SHS Athletic Director Michael Murray is also this year’s NYSAAA President and organizer of the annual week-long conference that featured many nationally known speakers. He needed a striking, conference-defining image for the event’s 20-page printed booklet and recognized an exciting chance to collaborate with the art department.

“I’ve always found that art and athletics have a lot in common,” Murray said. “I’m very familiar with the exceptional talent in our art classes. This was a perfect opportunity for our departments to work together to benefit students.”

“All my class assignments are designed to give students a sense of what an art studio and client work environment might look like,” said Digital Imaging teacher Jonathan Woodard. “The best part of this project was that they were able to meet with an actual client. Mike came in for the initial brainstorming session to explain what was needed, share print specifications and set design expectations.”

Murray introduced the young artists to his conference theme of “United for Excellence” which centered around making improvements in the areas of diversity and inclusion. He explained the concept: In NY, we are a very diverse state. As we strive for excellence, we must all be united – working together; including everyone. He set size, color and design requirements, including incorporating the logo and up to 10 different language treatments of the theme. Woodard created a professional job ticket, listing other technical requirements and instructions.

Students developed initial sketches that they pitched to Murray in a second meeting. He provided constructive feedback, along with a “wish list” of what would make the most successful design solution. As the artists developed and fine-tuned their digital artwork, Murray was available for helpful critiques. The artists had many opportunities to hone their listening skills and to see how their client responded to different ideas.

“Since this really came down to a competition to ‘win’ the chance to have their work published, you would have thought that the class would have kept their ideas to themselves,” said Woodard, “but they were energized by the work environment and were willing to share with each other to encourage creative development.”

He said, “Overall the students loved the process and working for a real client. The end products were all so good that Mike had a tough time making a final selection. He eventually used two designs, one for the cover and the other within the publication.”

The chosen design used for the booklet’s cover was created by 10th-grader Aidan Babcock. Conference Keynote speaker, NFL Hall of Fame inductee and former wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, Andre Reed autographed a copy of the program for Babcock.

The second design was created by senior Finn Atene. It featured educator and trailblazer Maia Chaka, the first black woman to join the on-field officiating staff in the NFL and another Keynote speaker at the conference. A delighted Chaka also autographed the artwork for its designer.

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