Client: Tech in Ed, Faculty of Education, U of A
Services Provided: Graphic Design, Illustration, Art Direction, Print Media, Storyboarding
While working in-house for Technologies in Education, I was approached by management, to create a poster that advertised: Free Coffee Available to Education Students.
I faced two main challenges during the production of this project:
1. The vast amount of creativity at my disposal. Management did not have any content or a visual direction developed for this project.
2. Creating a character flipbook showcasing the character walking. Animation wasn't something that I was formally trained in, so this portion of the project took some experimenting and learning.
With full creativity at my disposal, I decided to start the project off by visiting the Tech in Ed website and reviewing their services — I wanted to steer clear of cliche coffee imagery, so I was looking for alternative visuals to form the design from. During my research, I came across a set of Gamification courses that Tech in Ed taught. I did some further reading on the courses and learned that gamification was the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity. After learning more about gamification, I became inspired to lead the poster in a conceptual direction using digital games as an underlying theme. I thought stylizing the poster in this manner would not only tie in the unit's overall vision and services, but it would visually be appealing to students.
With a solid direction in mind, I began to brainstorm possible digital games that I could stylize the poster with. The game that resonated with me most was Mario Bros — I thought "it's classic, playful, bright, and very appealing to both a younger and older demographic." Once I finally landed on a solid game theme idea, I then had to start thinking about the design approach and how coffee would subtly be weaved into the artwork (I knew the artwork would undergo Mario Bros visual aesthetics, but I didn't know where the line should be drawn in terms of subject matter just yet). I decided to use a design technique called: Substitution. Substitution in graphic design is the art of swapping out certain items with new and unusual ones. For the coffee poster series, I used substitution by swapping out Mario for a bitmapped student and substituting money blocks/coins for an espresso machine/coffee beans. To maintain the classic graphic stylization of Mario Bros, I handcrafted the background, character, and accompanying graphics out of tiny squares to emulate bitmapping/pixelation.
Then when the artwork was complete, I came up with a catchy game title (Collect Coffee) and integrated a few more Education easter eggs within the top header bar.
When I strongly felt that the artwork and content were refined and perfected, I then pitched the proof to management and they instantly approved.
In the end, the campaign was a huge success. The coffee station area was being noticed from afar and students were now using the station more because it wasn't getting lost in the background — the bright, eye-catching graphics were captivating people's attention.
Although management initially requested only a poster design, the campaign became such a hit, that they requested the poster be transformed into an animated video. Working closely with Oliver Lessard (an in-house videographer), I created a storyboard/script for the video and a flipbook of the student character walking and Oliver then took those materials and brought the video to life using animation.