At Taylor, students interested in the arts or those looking to test the waters of marketing can gain hands-on experience by joining the student-led team Birrama Creative (BC). By creating designs and marketing materials for clients, art students reinforce and hone their classroom skills in a real-life experience.
Build a portfolio
Junior Audrey Masters, a graphic arts major and president of BC, got involved after receiving mentorship from a BC team member. She was encouraged to pursue a new line of art she hadn’t considered before – the intersection of advertising and digital art. Masters was hired as a BC designer and then president, officially beginning her first real-world artistic experience.
“It was by far my favorite thing I was able to do at Taylor, and I feel like it pushed me a lot further in my field,” Masters said. “I think my classes prepared me for this job, but (BC is) a really unique opportunity that allows me to use the skills I’m learning in class for real projects that I can show off later in my portfolio. .”
Manage a business
Masters manages a team of designers, photographers, illustrators and videographers. When hiring its team, Masters looks for people who know different areas of the art and who are flexible when challenges arise, but firm on deadlines.
Birrama Creative operates like a business, taking commissions from other student-run organizations such as Integrating Faith and Culture (IFC) to create promotional content for upcoming events or products. After receiving a commission and learning what the client wants, Masters assigns work to team members based on their skills.
Sophomore Quinn Miles, a graphic arts and illustration student, applied to the BC team after Masters noticed her artwork. In her second year, she worked on projects like Dynamite Duos Dance posters, where she got the chance to play with her grungy art style.
“Audrey is great at responding to everyone’s strengths,” Miles said. “I have an affinity for grungy, weird, gooey text in my designs. For the posters (Dynamic Duos), some (of the photos) were a bit underexposed. Instead of reshooting, I took them thrown in Photoshop I increased the brightness and saturation and ran a filter over them to make them look bright pink This creates a lot of noise and jitter in the actual image but it gives the felt like it was intentional. Then I built the rest of the posters around that.
Putting class knowledge to work
The real-life experience offered by British Columbia puts classroom knowledge to work. Currently, BC is renaming Taylor’s Cafe at the Boren Student Center, The Jumping Bean. This involves pitching and selling the concept to The Jumping Bean owners, making specified revisions, and pitching the final product.
As an artist, Masters feels her work is part of herself. However, sometimes in the interests of the client, she has learned to let that part slip away.
“A lot of times you can cling very tightly to your art because it’s almost a part of you,” Masters said, “but projects like these where they’re strictly for communication and for a purpose, ( you have to remember), ‘This is a product.’ I think it’s hard to deal with.”
Working with clients, Masters has learned strengths and overcome challenges, including learning to overcome creative differences through communication.
“Working with actual clients is a much longer process than just doing something that looks like a ‘one-off project,'” Masters said. “There are a lot of revisions to do, especially when there are so many different people working on different projects. I think it definitely taught our team members a lot more skills that we’ll use later in our careers, like compromise, but also sometimes sacrificing what you’d like to do to satisfy the customer instead.
The marketing team in action
The BC experience allows Miles to grow and learn more about his skills, but his favorite aspect is working in teams with a variety of people and artistic styles.
“(The team is) such an eclectic mix of people, that’s what makes us so fun,” Miles said. “We can all bounce different creative energies off of each other, which sounds super idyllic and crazy, but it’s awesome. I think Birrama is one of the best things for a creative (student) in college because you haven’t graduated yet so you’re not quite at the working professional level, but you have always creative chops and you still need practice.”
For more information on the arts and different opportunities to gain real-world experience, visit Taylor’s Art program page!