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posters created by art students

Student-Run Design and Marketing Agency Merges Classroom and Career

  • By: Sarah Wordhouse
  • Published:

At Taylor, students interested in the Arts or those who want to test the marketing waters can gain practical experience by joining the student-led Birrama Creative (BC) team. By creating designs and marketing materials for clients, Art students strengthen and hone their classroom skills into real-life experience. 

Building a Portfolio

Junior Audrey Masters, a Graphic Art major and the president of BC, became involved after receiving mentorship from a BC team member. She was encouraged to pursue a new line of art she had not previously considered—the intersection of advertisement and digital art. Masters was hired as a BC designer, and later the president, officially beginning her first real-world artistic experience. 

“It’s been my favorite thing I've gotten to do at Taylor by far, and I feel like it has pushed me way farther in my field,” Masters said. “I think my classes have prepared me for that work, but (BC is) a really unique opportunity that allows me to use the skills that I'm learning in class for real projects that I can show later in my portfolio.”

Managing a Business

Masters manages a team of designers, photographers, illustrators, and videographers. When hiring her team, Masters looks for those who are versed in different areas of art and are flexible when challenges arise but firm on deadlines. 

Birrama Creative runs as a business, taking commissions from other student-run organizations such as Integration of Faith and Culture (IFC) to make promotional content for upcoming events or products. After receiving a commission and learning what the customer wants, Masters assigns the work to team members based on their skill sets.

Sophomore Quinn Miles, a Graphic Art and Illustration major, applied to the BC team after Masters noticed her artwork. As a sophomore, she’s worked on projects like the Dynamite Duos Dance posters, where she gets the chance to play around with her grungy artistic style.

“Audrey is great about catering to everybody's strengths,” Miles said. “I have an affinity for grungy, weird, melty text in my designs. For the (Dynamic Duos) posters, some of (the photos) were a little bit underexposed. Instead of reshooting, I threw them in Photoshop, cranked up the brightness and the saturation and ran a filter over them so they look bright pink. That creates a lot of noise and jitter in the actual image, but it makes it look intentional. Then I built the rest of the posters around that.”

Putting Classroom Knowledge to Work

The real-life experience BC offers puts classroom knowledge to work. Currently, BC is rebranding Taylor’s coffee shop in the Boren Student Center, The Jumping Bean. This involves pitching and selling the concept to the owners of The Jumping Bean, making revisions as specified, and presenting the final product. 

As an artist, Masters feels her work is a part of her. However, sometimes in the interest of the customer, she has learned to let that part go. 

“A lot of times you can hold really tightly to your art because it's almost a piece of you,” Masters said, ”but projects like these where they’re strictly designed for communication and for a purpose, (you have to remember), ‘This is a product.’ I think it's hard to manage.”

Through working with clients, Masters has acquired strengths and met challenges, including learning how to overcome creative differences through communication.

“Working with actual clients is a much longer process than just doing something that's like a ‘one-and-done project,’” Masters said. “There's a lot of revision that has to happen, especially when there are so many different people working on different projects. I think that has definitely taught the people on our team a lot more skills that we'll use in our careers later, like compromise, but also sometimes just sacrificing what you would want to do to satisfy the client instead.”

Marketing Team in Action

The BC experience allows Miles to grow and learn more about her skills, but her favorite aspect  is working on the team with a variety of people and art styles. 

“(The team is) such an eclectic mix of people, which is what makes us so fun,” Miles said. “We can all bounce different creative energies off of one another, which sounds super idyllic and crazy, but it’s great. I think Birrama is one of the best things for a creative (student) at college because you don't have your degree yet, so you're not quite at the professional working level, but you still have creative chops and you still need practice.”

For more information about the Arts and different opportunities to gain real-world experience, visit Taylor’s Art program page!