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VCD Seniors Workforce Ready

The real world waits for no one, so seniors in the visual communication design (VCD) program make the most of their time at the Hartford Art School by working with real clients long before Commencement. This fall, Alyssa Petrancosta ‘18 of Franklin Square, New York, and David Todd ‘18 of Simsbury, Connecticut, teamed up in their Civic Design class to help a client create a brand that’s more inclusive and inviting to diverse identities: First Presbyterian Church of Hartford.

“We based [our designs] on the idea of Pride, and it came together pretty organically,” says Alyssa. In the ad design, she photoshopped a Pride flag onto the side of the building. “They liked it so much that they’re going to make a real banner to display the way it looks on the ad, and do a series of ads based on that same piece,” she adds.

Whereas large teams can catalyze competition between designers, who pitch their concepts against those of their teammates, Alyssa and David found that collaboration came naturally.

“Competition breeds good design,” David explains. “But collaboration is better for some projects, and this was one of those projects.”

The church’s branding project included creating print ads, a letterhead, business cards, and most challenging of all, updating its website–which was on a management system neither of the seniors had worked with before. Alyssa felt that the VCD program groomed her and David to think critically about the challenges the project presented.

First Presbyterian Church ad

“We’ve learned how to turn something that doesn't work into something that’s a really effective piece,” David says. “This program teaches you how to take the key information out of a project and bring it to where it should be, from a design standpoint. We can help a client update without losing the brand’s integrity, which we weren't able to do in our first year.”

Working feels different to the seniors now after pitching to real clients. Their program’s environment creates a safe space for them to learn to ask the right questions and to master the communication skills professionals need. Alyssa is already putting these skills to use by working for the University of Hartford’s Office of Marketing and Communication and supporting its graphic design team.

By the time [this program] is over, we have it down and we’re ready to go out into the workforce,” says Alyssa.