Armed with a pair of scissors and magazines, Sierra Schneider, an alumna of USF St. Petersburg’s graphic design program, had just 30 minutes to make something beautiful.
She struggled through pages and pages of pictures and text while considering the prompt the judges gave her — the future.
Then she found it: a picture of a zebra.
“I was trying to find just one image that clicked with one of my ideas,” Schneider said. “Endangered animals are probably not going to be here in the future.”
After the judges called the round to close, Schneider presented her work. In it, a zebra stood surrounded by red.
“It could be flames or it could be blood, but it definitely isn’t good,” she told the judges.
Schneider came in first place, the judges said they enjoyed the creative narrative that went along with her piece. She received a $40 gift card to AOE Supply, an art shop in Tampa.
Hosted Friday, March 24 at Cage Brewing on First Avenue South and 22nd Street, the collage competition pitted graphic designers against each other to create a spontaneous art piece. The Tampa Bay chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts put on the event.
AIGA is a graphic design membership program that hosts community and training events across the country.
“AIGA is kind of like a lightning rod for design creativity,” said Carmela Zabala, membership director for the Tampa Bay chapter and alumna of USF St. Petersburg.
Zabala said that for the past few years, the chapter was inactive, but recently they’ve picked up and scheduled networking events across the area.
“A lot of the events we’ve hosted were about networking, but we want to get people really involved and hold community bonding exercises where people can work together and have design discussions but in a really fun way,” said Zabala, who graduated in 2015.
She said that the graphic design program taught her a lot about creativity.
“I think the best part of the program was that it was concept heavy. We learned how to think about design,” Zabala said. “When you go out in the field, you can have the fundamental skills, but if you don’t develop a concept, then you don’t have anything.
Current students of the design program also participated in the ⌘X & ⌘V: A Collage Competition & Networking Event.
Jason Cottrell (pictured above), a senior in the graphic design program, made it into the second round of the competition to compete with Schneider directly. He was nervous for two weeks before the competition.
“I entered the competition because someone told me at the beginning of the semester that I should do things that make me completely uncomfortable,” Cottrell said. “They said, otherwise you’ll never grow.
“Those uncomfortable moments will make you think more creatively. Before the competition, I was so nervous, but after getting the prompt and considering what light meant to me, all the nerves went away. It was completely freeing.”
Cottrell ended up in third place after the final round. He said he would continue to get out and improve his skills. He was impressed by his competitors work, and how creative they got with the final prompt.
The winner, Schneider, graduated USFSP in 2015, and now works for GSL Solutions in Tampa. GSL Solutions is a small veteran-owned design firm that works with small businesses. Schneider said her time in the graphic design program taught her a lot about the world of design.
“I really learned how to fail — that it’s completely alright to fail and with each failure you will learn,” Schneider said. She said that the biggest lesson she learned was to begin to create art that was just as much a part of herself as for someone else.
“I also learned a lot about who I am in the program. When I started I was making things people wanted to see, but that’s not what this is about. That’s just a cop-out,” she said.
Featured photo courtesy of Devin Rodriguez | The Crow’s Nest