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Hartford Art School Students Build Their Résumés and Create Social Change Through Design

The Art of Impactful Experiences

Real-world experience gives students an edge when they compete for careers, but at the Hartford Art School, those portfolio-padding projects serve the community at the same time. Through the Civic Design class, visual communication design students work with nonprofits around the Hartford area to build their resume and catalyze social good. 

“Students get input from outside clients who aren’t as versed in speaking about art and design, very much like working in the real world,” says Mike Scricco, who teaches the course. He reminds his class that clients hire designers specifically because they want someone who understands aesthetics, and students keep this in mind as they communicate with outside organizations. 

This year, the Civic Design class client list included a literacy program in Waterbury, a charity tennis tournament, the First Presbyterian Church of Hartford, the Fall Foliage Festival, Aid-a-Pet, andDogStar, a dog rescue non-profit based in Bloomfield, Conn. Each client presents a different type of design opportunity, which could be a website, a set of brochures, a mural, or, in the case of DogStar, all of the above. 

“The key to all of this is to learn how to sell your work as a designer, and how to help clients understand why the strategy you’re suggesting is going to help take their business or cause to the next level,” Mike adds. “The added benefit is that you realize how big a difference good design can make.” 

In the case of Mike’s class, one student’s brochure on dog ownership can help a a new dog parent know what to expect, and prevent the dog from being returned to a shelter. A poster that spreads awareness of a charity tournament results in that much more money raised on the day of the event. 

 The work is more than just a bright spot on a student’s resume—it’s a tangible way to make the community a better place, and at the Hartford Art School, that’s a winning combination.