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Ohio Northern’s advertising design program graduates its first class

AIGA national design  conferenceCommencement marks a milestone for the department of art & design: the department will graduate its first class of art/advertising design students.

The two women will leave Ohio Northern equipped with an extremely marketable degree. By all expectations, employment projections will jump 13% by 2018.

As alumni, the two graduates will be prepared to lead and coordinate a company’s market research, advertising strategy, and branding to develop advertising that acts as a catalyst in the world of mass communication.

“When I found out that Ohio Northern was launching an advertising design program,” said Lauren Bailey, “I knew it would be the perfect program for me. I loved that I was able to incorporate everything that I enjoyed,” explained the senior from Galena.

As a graduate this Sunday, Lauren is interested in working for a marketing or advertising agency that puts together advertising campaigns for clients. “I am excited to be the one who will design the packaging for the new box of cereal, the one who will create a new promotional campaign for a department store, or the one who will design a billboard for the upcoming box office hit. I loved that there was a program available that allowed me to have so many options!”

Shaping the major
That created a unique opportunity for the first advertising design majors, according to Prof. Brit Rowe, chair of the department of art & design. “The curriculum requires knowledge in art, design and business,” said Rowe. “The program was developed to respond to a more strategic and demanding field of design, usually associated with business. The program taught our students to create solutions that acts as a catalyst in the world of mass communication.”

Interest in the major has increased annually since its inception in fall 2008 as the University received national recognition for its quality education. The business college was named one of the top undergraduate business programs (BusinessWeek) in the United States and the department of art & design was the only small program in the Midwest to be included in the “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the top creative programs in the country.

The advertising design major takes advantage of these resources as it integrates marketing, technology, writing and psychology with the traditional art and design disciplines. The advanced classes enable students to work with complex advertising projects with multiple elements and critical analysis. At this level, classes are structured to integrate theories, strategies and concepts learned from previous courses into an advanced, professional setting.

Like other advertising design programs across the United States, it attracts extremely well-qualified students. Currently, about 30 talented high school seniors apply for 10 spots in Ohio Northern’s design program, which is purposely limited in size. With faculty from design and business, the student-teacher ratio offers a level of learning opportunity not found at most undergraduate design programs.

Big benefits in a small program
“Being part of a small, new program gave us lots of interaction with the professors,” said Micaela Nauman, a graduating senior from Fredericktown. “Choosing to attend Ohio Northern has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. The entire department, especially the professors, has made my experience very rewarding and has truly helped mold me into the designer I am. The small community atmosphere and the friendship the entire department shares kept me from the intimidation factor I would have encountered at a bigger, specialized art school, and I believe that has truly helped me to be successful.”

“We are continuing to develop new teaching methods that take advantage of our program’s small size,” Rowe said. For example, advertising design students enjoy integrated lecture-and-lab sessions that provide immediate, hands-on reinforcement of theories and concepts presented in classroom instruction.

Ohio Northern’s intimate advertising design program has other benefits, too, he said. “Because design is so broad, our primary mission is to provide a distinctive undergraduate educational opportunity for our students. We concentrate on providing a strong fundamental advertising design education that prepares students for a wide range of future opportunities. It is driven by what we believe is best for our students.”

Diverse career options
For their year-long capstone projects, the seniors individually worked with local restaurant owners at 3 Brothers Pizza and Viva Maria’s to address real-world problems. The primary educational goal of the projects was to provide the students with a challenging, open-ended, design relevant opportunity similar to what they might experience in their careers. Their prototyped solutions may well lead to implementation, which reinforces the quality of the Ohio Northern experience, the hard work of the students, and the potential for student success in the future.

The seniors shared their advertising design proposals at the department of art & design’s Senior Lecture Series and at the BA/BFA Senior Show on exhibit through the month of May in the Elzay Gallery of Art.

Prepared for challenges
Both said that Ohio Northern’s advertising design program, with its emphasis on problem-solving, group projects, and critical thinking, has prepared them well for the challenges ahead.

Micaela agreed. “The variety of classes offered through the advertising design program has given me a well-rounded appreciation of all the facets of art and design. The projects were demanding. To truly create the best work, I spent many hours completing projects. I don’t think our department would have it any other way. I know that will benefit me throughout my career.”

image: Advertising design major Lauren Bailey and Micaela Nauman with Michael Bierut, a famous designer from Pentagram (NY), at the AIGA National Design Conference in Memphis.