By Erin Roberts
Students, faculty and staff in the School of Visual Communication began wrapping up a successful academic year Sunday with the opening of the VisCom Student Show at the Athens Dairy Barn and hosting the VisCom Day speakers Monday in the Baker University Center Ballroom.
The student show, which remains on exhibit until May 10, features more than 200 images created this academic year. Scholarship winners and other individual honors were also recognized at the event.
"I was really excited to see the leap the design and commercial photography folks have made this year," said Terry Eiler, the school's director. "Because I teach in the interactive media and photojournalism sequences, I know how good they are, but I don't see the comprehensive quality of the other sequences until this show is assembled at the end of the year."
On Monday, four industry speakers spoke to crowds of more than 200 throughout the day. Eiler said the highlight of the day for him was hearing Kathy Moran, senior editor for natural history at National Geographic, talk about what it takes to be a successful picture editor and photo researcher.
Moran has been part of the team that has returned National Geographic to a position of editorial leadership in magazine publishing. The magazine was recognized this year by the Pictures of the Year International as the Angus McDougall Overall Excellence in Editing winner for 2009.
Other speakers included:
- Alumna Pauline St. Denis, who received her bachelor's degree in fine arts in 1981. Now a nationally recognized commercial photographer and Holga camera artist, she presented her work about keeping the creative flame alive in difficult times. St. Denis has worked as a studio and location photographer in New York for two decades.
- Juan Thomassie, senior designer for USA Today and online media, who spoke about the new directions of informational graphics and design. He has been a fellow at the Poynter Institute, an animator at KRT In Motion and art director at the Los Angeles Times.
- Alumnus David Griffin, who received his bachelor's degree in journalism in 1981. The director of photography for National Geographic magazine, he talked about the changes in directions and talent required to work at the leading international magazine. While a student at Ohio University, Griffin served as photo editor of The Post and was a two-time Hearst award winner.
Eiler was pleased with attendance and with the success of a new format of 45 minutes of prepared comments from each speaker with a 40-minute question-and-answer session.
"The significance of the day is that we brought in four leading practitioners from the industry," he said. "From the cutting edge of what is design at USA Today to the expertise of the natural history picture editor of National Geographic, students were exposed to greatness."
After Thomassie's lecture, students asked him about the state of the industry. While his outlook was optimistic, he also acknowledged the continually changing atmosphere.
"What you think you'll be doing today isn't what you'll be doing in five years," Thomassie said, encouraging them to take advantage of youth and to seek further skills even after entering the work force.
Magazine journalism senior Kristen Rapin, who attended Thomassie's lecture for her introductory publication design class, was impressed by how much goes into a single graphic.
"He spoke about how a graphic of job prospects for 2010 he created had more than 200 lines of coding and equated to six XML pages," she said. "That's so amazing. I like to use the Internet for graphics because you can specify and customize your browsing for the information you want to know. Seeing how just one of these graphics is made and how long it takes made me better appreciate the work that goes into this type of medium."
The public is encouraged to visit the Dairy Barn, located at 8000 Dairy Lane, Athens, Ohio, to view the best of VisCom student work through May 10.