It’s a brisk Wednesday afternoon of work for Lia Zink-Duda, and for the past few hours, the perfect design has been the only thing on her mind.
Zink-Duda is working hard on a large poster design project for the social justice organization, Kansas Appleseed. Zink-Duda is a sophomore and is enrolled in the rigorous visual communications program at the University of Kansas.
Pursuing a bigger social life can be difficult at times, particularly for a full-time design college student. Zink-Duda feels her time while being a part of the visual communications program has been rather hectic.
“I was spending most of my time cooped up in my room doing projects (during her first year), which was pretty discouraging. Instead of going out with friends on the weekend, I would stay home to make sure I could finish the project in time,” said Zink-Duda.
Many students who are a part of the design programs at the University of Kansas sometimes feel overwhelmed or discouraged their first year, with assignments like drawing over 500 different varieties of dogs. Zink-Duda rolls her eyes, looking exasperated, as she says she had this huge project in her first year.
“What professors expect from their students is like on par with professional designers and it’s just unrealistic the amount and quality of work we are expected to do/make in the amount of time we are given. I was literally told by one of my professors that u can’t do extracurricular and be in design school at the same time,” said Abby Burtin, a sophomore and friend of Lia’s who is also studying visual communications.
“I think people tend to underestimate the workload of design students,” said Olivia Korte, Lia’s cousin who is studying interior architecture.
Zink-Duda and her fellow designers continuously take perfection to another level. Throughout her time at the design school, Zink-Duda has amplified perfection through her work.
“The goal of one project was to have 16 symbols of an object, which didn’t seem so bad at first. (My object was a dog.) But in order to narrow it down to 16 dogs, we had to have a crazy amount of sketches to choose from. Within the first week and a half, we had to have 250 dogs drawn. By the end of the 3-week project, I had a binder full of 507 dogs. I counted. It was awful. I spent what felt like every waking hour drawing dogs. I would get home from class at 3:00 and do nothing else but draw dogs until 10:30 or 11:00 pm. I’m pretty sure my roommate thought I was insane,” said Zink-Duda about the hardest project she’s done.
More recently, the visual communications students have been given real-world clients to work with. Zink-Duda’s is Kansas Appleseed, who asked for posters for promotion detailing their social justice issues. A spokesperson from Kansas Appleseed came to the design studio to give a presentation on what they needed out of the posters.
“To get started, I made 10 digital sketches of poster concepts and presented them to my classmates and professor, who helped me choose two to continue working on. Then, for the next several classes, I would print the posters at full size (18 in x 24 in), pin them up for others to critique, and then do refinements based on the class critique for homework. At one point in the project, I was very frustrated with one of my posters so much that I started a whole new concept,” Zink-Duda said detailing her design process.
“I liked how the new poster turned out, but my professor told me to go with my two originals. That was pretty frustrating, too, because I spent so much time making a design that I actually would like to keep pushing, but if I want to ensure I better grade in the class, I need to choose the ones that my prof would want. The refinements of the posters are almost done now but we are going to start animating them to add motion, which will be new software for most people.”