YOUNGSTOWN — An ambitious student from Wilson Alternative School, Melvin Torres has dreams of using graphic design to create his own brand; if that fails he’s eyeing a career as a lineman in the NFL.
Torres and several other students took part in an interactive and graphic design software presentation led by Michelle Nelson, a Youngstown State University professor.
“They’ll leave today with a basic understanding of how to use the pen tool to draw, along with a handful of other tools,” Nelson said.
English teacher Collen Cegan helped spearhead the program in hopes that students develop an understanding of the entrepreneurial aspect of art to apply later in life.
“This is a good skill building program for them to apply toward making money with these skills,” Cegan said.
During the demonstration, Nelson taught students about various styles of logos and explained the importance of a logo in establishing a brand identity.
Nelson used a yellow duck as the base for her lesson, something she’s done since 1998 to teach the basic skillset for drawing in Adobe Illustrator, ” He is a little bit of a legend for the YSU alumni since most of them have watched me draw him , and probably drawn him,” Nelson said.
The session, Nelson said, will allow students to start defining who they are, the name of their company, their slogan, target audience and what things that audience wants to look at and purchase.
“The goal is to give insight into how the software can be used professionally,” Nelson said.
For more than 30 years, Nelson said she has overseen students that have launched lofty, diverse careers.
One of her former students helped develop the app for Taylor Swift’s Red album; another’s animation has been honored by the Emmys.
“As schools get rid of programs like art and music in K-12, my intention is to highlight how far your creativity can take you,” Nelson said. “We have alumni all over the country doing amazing things because they decided to develop their creativity as a marketable skill.”
That creativity is everywhere you look, from soda cans, and the iconic Apple logo on the back of many people’s phones, to the billboard you pass on your daily commute to work or home.
According to Cegan, the district has provided the school with equipment that includes a Cricut machine, 3-D printers and T-shirt press machines to support the students’ creative endeavors.
There will be an opportunity for students to take what they’ve learned to come up with their own designs for T-shirts, coffee cups, pins and stickers that they’ll later have the opportunity to see.
Wilson students will take part in two more campus visits at YSU this school year to continue developing their skillset. By the programs completion, Cegan said the students will become Adobe certified.