Amy Wiltbank doesn’t mind being too graphic. Actually, she loves it.
Wiltbank and more than 30 of her classmates in Cece Cutsforth’s first-year, graphic design class have been hard at work designing a brochure for photographer Janis Miglavs’ fund-raising event at Portland State University. The fund-raiser is for his new book that features photography from his time in Africa. The students designed the logo, invitation and program for this event as part of a class project.
Miglavs is an internationally-recognized photographer for National Geographic who is based out of Sherwood. He has developed a non-profit organization to document the oral stories, legends, myths and dreams of remote indigenous African tribes. He is working to publish a book educating the public about these unique people.
"This is the first project that I’ve worked on with a real client," Wiltbank said. "We had to visually capture the myth and legends of Africa. Each student produced their own vision, reflecting how they thought the client wanted it.
"We’re really excited to see how it will all turn out," she added. "I thought all of my classmates’ versions looked good. It will be interesting to see what direction this takes."
In her choice of careers, Wiltbank decided to change directions and try something new. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Brigham Young University and started a career in biotechnology research in Los Angeles. But it was simply reading a book, and especially admiring its cover design, that prompted her interest in graphic design, and soon after, a career change.
"I thought it would be really fun to be able to design book covers," Wiltbank said. "I was in a career where I wasn’t happy and it will be a relief to be able to have fun in a job where you’re so into what you are doing that you forget to eat."
When she decided to leave her job it was her mother who suggested PCC’s graphic design program. The Salem native found it to be both economical and challenging.
"I have been really happy with the program," she said. "There is a high standard here. You get lots of personal time with your instructor and plenty of interaction with your classmates."
It’s something that is the norm for graphic design students. Cutsforth knew that having her students work with Miglavs would aid in their development as graphic artists.
"They are recognizing the value of working on an actual project with an actual client," said Cutsforth. "The class discussions jumped to a whole new level when they realized they were asking questions that were valid and were applicable to the final outcome. I love the African cultural learning the students are doing in the project, right along with their graphic design learning. The community connection they are making by working with a non-profit makes it a ‘win-win’ situation for all."
For Wiltbank, she would like to use her graphic design skills in the realm of biotechnology to create informative brochures and publications. She has the background and knowledge in the industry as well as the artistic skills to be effective. It’s what she loves to do.
"It’s wonderful to look at the final product and have it look like a real, professionally designed piece," she added.