Making a difference with poster design.
There are few projects I will repeat, but this is one I do because it gives our kids an opportunity to contribute to a very worthy cause.
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) encourages schools to participate in their annual fundraising campaign by submitting designs to their poster contest. Each year, this is assigned to my junior class art students.
A panel of media professionals examines the artwork submitted each year, and chooses the signature image for the year's fund-raising campaign. Each design is required to include a teddy bear, which is part of CHEO's corporate image.
People who live in the Ottawa-Carleton region recognize the outstanding work CHEO does for our community. In fact, many Merivale students have been to CHEO for treatment during their formative years and know firsthand how important the institution is to our city.
ELEMENTS FOR SUCCESS The process begins with reviewing the elements that combine to make a successful poster. Students are told the posters have to communicate from a distance, and are advised to use bright colors and to keep their artwork simple and direct. Students are also informed the selection committee will be looking for gender-free artwork that features a teddy bear character, and their creations have to reflect the hospital's theme, which changes each year.
With these design parameters in mind, the students started by doing a series of exercises in their sketchbooks using teddy bears brought to class to serve as still-life samples. The excercises include:
* quick 60-second pencil sketches of a teddy bear done head-on;
* quick 60-second pencil sketches of a bear done from another angle;
* detailed sketches of all or part of a bear that must include the face;
* simplified, "cartoon-like" drawings of a bear in either pencil or ink;
* sketches of a teddy bear in an "action pose";
* sketches of part of a bear, including the face, coming out of a picture frame;
* sketches of a teddy bear, using a #10 round brush.
After the students complete these exploratory drawings, they are free to generate more complex compositions in their sketchbooks. They are encouraged to use their exploratory exercises as a starting point in the creative process.
All projects are completed in a strong vertical format on 26" x 20" cover stock in acrylic paint, with room left on the top register to allow for the silkscreening of the CHEO text. The students consistently respond with many creative submissions, which are proudly displayed in our annual art show in time to support the fundraising efforts.
LEARNING AND PARTICIPATING Artwork by Merivale students has won this prestigious design contest in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2011. Winning images are selected from thousands of entries submitted by children of all ages in the Ottawa-Carleton region.
Badges, hoodies, T-shirts, golf shirts, hats and, yes, teddy bears, are produced and sold with all profits going to the hospital.
When a student wins the competition, he or she gets to host the launch of the image, which is used everywhere in Eastern Ontario--advertising venues and, of course, the set for the Telethon on TV. The design also appears in newspapers, on posters, even on buses.
To launch the fund-raiser, local newscaster Max Keeping--for whom the CHEO Telethon has been a personal project for many years--visits the school to present the winner his or her award at an assembly. It's a great day for the student, the school and the community.
This project is successful on a number of different levels. It certainly is an appropriate vehicle to teach students about poster design. More importantly, though, it allows graphic design students--and, vicariously, the entire school--an opportunity to participate in what they all recognize is a very important community event.
High-school students will ...
* learn about poster design and create a poster for a fund-raising campaign.
* make a generous creative contribution to their community.
* Sketchbooks and pencils
* Teddy bears for visual reference
* Acrylic paint
* #10 round brush
* 26" x 20" cover stock
Irv Osterer is the Department Head-Fine Arts, Languages at Merivale High School in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.