The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Public Is Invited to Vote for Logo Design


February 3, 2021

As an exercise in Graphic Design II, students enrolled in the GDSN 350 course offered at Montana State University-Northern created logos for the college radio station, KNMC 90.1 FM. Three logos went out to the public on January 21 via Facebook, inviting people to vote for their favorite design. Voting ends on February 21, and the winning design will be used in promotional materials for KNMC.

Mary Ward, the course instructor, was inspired to partner with the college radio station after learning that the station's current logo could use updating. "We typically have done at least one logo design in the Graphic Design II course, and I did some thinking about which local entity needed a new logo. I realized our college radio station, KNMC 90.1 FM, did not have decent quality logo. So, I asked Dave Martens, who is the station manager, whether he felt he needed a new logo, and he said yes. Plus, KNMC is a college entity, so it made sense for the Graphic Design Program at MSU-Northern to partner with their own radio station."

The previous logo with which Martens was working did not have high quality image files, so the current logo was quite blurry when printed. With improved image files, this new logo will make it easier to order promotional materials for KNMC.

"We'll use the winning logo on future promo materials," Martens said.

The objectives of the class project were to create a legible, high image quality logo in both black and white and colored formats. The logo needed to reflect the personality of the radio station and be both simple and memorable. After the eight students enrolled in GDSN 350 used Adobe Illustrator to create their designs for this learning experience, the group voted as a class and whittled down the options from eight to three. They will leave the final vote up to the public.

Anyone interested in voting can use the link on the MSU-Northern (MSUN) - Graphic Design Program's or the KNMC 90.1 FM College Radio's Facebook pages. As of January 24, Ward reported that they already have close to 500 votes.

According to Ward, the student winning the logo design contest will receive nothing more than the recognition. "You might be surprised to know that these students are very competitive, so winning is enough of an incentive for them. Plus, they love making work that will be used, instead of creating work that only lives in a portfolio."

In the future, Ward plans on working with other departments on campus. "It seems like someone is always needing design help, and students love to do work that will be used. The contest format brings out competitive behavior between the students, and that helps to elevate the quality of their design work. Plus, the contests are fun and bring visitors to our Facebook page. We plan on doing additional contests in the future and sharing more student work on our Facebook page," Ward reported.

The contests further serve to market and elevate awareness about the Graphic Design Program at MSUN. According to the college's website, the Graphic Design Program "provides a strong foundation in the fine arts coupled with the newest techniques and technologies used by Graphic Designers and Digital Media Artists today." Students can either major in Graphic Design, earning a bachelor of arts degree, or receive a minor.

An advocate for her program, Ward explains: "The Graphic Design Program at MSU-Northern uses the most current software and techniques in the design industry. So, when our students get jobs out there, they will already know the software and skills that are standard in the industry. Even the design classes in our program have a focus on marketing. Which is relevant, because all design ties back into marketing of some sort, and a lot of programs don't cover this.

"We also have a nice marriage between digital and traditional media. We try to provide a strong foundation in the traditional arts (drawing, painting, illustration). Plus, students get a lot of one-on-one attention from faculty that are flexible and care about students! We also are now offering a minor in Graphic Design, which is a great option for students across campus. Another important consideration is cost. MSU-Northern tends to be more affordable when compared with other options, and the cost of living in Havre is lower when compared with other places, as well."

Many of the Graphic Design classes are offered online. "My classes are easily adapted to online because I use the online learning platform Brightspace quite extensively. It offers up a lot of flexibility to students that have busy schedules, such as work and/or family commitments," Ward stated.

Ward went on to say that graduates of MSUN's Graphic Design Program can expect to gain positions as digital and print advertising designers, design entrepreneurs, illustrators, photographers (with extensive design backgrounds), package designers, website designers, and social media curators or specialists.

"Careers in business and marketing are also options for our students. This is because graphic design and business go together. Often our students choose-and are actually encouraged-to minor in marketing or small business management, depending on where their interests lie. The nice thing about the Graphic Design bachelors at MSU-Northern is that it pairs well with a lot of other minors on campus," Ward shared.

A former Graphic Designer at Triangle Communications and for the Missoulian-the largest published newspaper in Western Montana-as well as a former web developer at Spectral Fusion Web Design, Ward earned her Master of Fine Arts Degree in Digital Media at the University of Montana-Missoula. She and Joel Soiseth, MFA, teach in the Graphic Design Program at MSUN.


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