YCP faculty member participates in invitational poster exhibition to benefit WHO during COVID-19 crisis
Melanie Rodgers loves index cards. She keeps a stack by her breakfast table. As she sits down each morning, she picks up a pen and does hand lettering or illustrates on the little white piece of paper. The Associate Professor of Graphic Design finds her work lately has been critical of the way things are going in the world. “That’s kind of how we are,” she says, referring to artists. “We’re kind of opinionated and we like to say how we’re feeling, no matter if people agree or disagree.”
One of those index card illustrations came to life recently as a 24”x 36” poster entry in the exhibit Apart: Posters From a Social Distance. The exhibit was organized by a St. Louis graphic design firm, and more than 150 submissions are on display at apartposters.com. Available for sale as posters or postcards, 100% of the proceeds benefitted the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
“It’s a nice opportunity for a designer such as myself to contribute to a cause that I’m really concerned about,” she says. The posters range in messaging from encouraging people to stay home and get takeout to poking fun at those who hoard toilet paper and honoring those working in healthcare. Her poster is titled “I Miss People” and gives a middle finger to the virus, she says.
A chance to contribute
Professor Rodgers tries to contribute to exhibits that benefit a greater good whenever she can. “I encourage my students to do service work—not free work,” she says. While a lot of companies will ask a class of designers to participate in a “contest,” it ultimately means students are doing the work for nothing. Instead, she says, she encourages students to find a cause they care about and express themselves through those types of projects.
The American Institute of Graphic Arts provides a lot of similar opportunities through its newsletter. “Once you get the ball rolling on these things and participate in a few, you really learn that there are other opportunities for students to start to make themselves known,” Professor Rodgers says. She also encourages her students to keep their portfolios up-to-date and to have an Instagram account dedicated to their work.
Graphic design is a lifestyle
Since students started taking their classes at home during the spring semester, Professor Rodgers has seen them express themselves through a variety of projects that they post to social media. Like a lot of things, working on their graphic design practice daily helps them improve, she says. Instagram allows them to showcase that work and build a reputation.
One student did some beautiful sidewalk chalk work in her neighborhood since being home. Others have tried new mediums. “Being a graphic designer is a lifestyle. It’s something you do because you have to,” Melanie says. “I suspect there will be more reactions as we continue to live through COVID-19.”