For each of the three topics students will be designing and presenting a public service poster. At the end of the project students will vote on each individual's best poster and each student will have one poster printed and hung in the school. I would like students to go through the process of becoming a graphic designer and therefore will set this assignment up as though they are working for a company which is interested in producing posters to raise awareness about health issues in schools across the country.
The first step in working on a design project is to meet with the client to determine the client's needs. I will have students brainstorm a list of questions, which they would prepare before meeting with the client; the answers to these questions will generate a specification sheet about the project. Once students have generated questions to ask the client I will provide them with a specifications sheet for the company (Appendix A). The company will be a branch of the Center for Disease Control, and will be working on an outreach program for both middle school students and high school students. They are looking to produce a series of 24" x 36" full color posters persuading students to make healthy choices about smoking, body image and nutrition. The company is looking for dynamic and eye-catching posters, which will appeal to teenagers and catch their interest. The company wants new and innovative ideas to spice up the line of public service posters they already have.
After meeting with the client the designer needs to determine the demographic of the target audience, which for this project has been given to the students by the client. They are interested in targeting middle and high school students. Next the designer needs to research the types of ads that are effective in reaching the target audience. As a class we will discuss which print ads and television commercials have actually left an impact on them, since they are a part of the target audience. There are usually three main categories of ads that impact high school students: humor (for instance Geico ads), stark truth - bold facts that are well articulated (for instance truth.com ads), or flashy visually altered ads (this will be easy to achieve with Photoshop). We will watch commercials and look at a variety of print ads that students think would be effective to their peers, and will pinpoint what makes them successful. I have cited a few specific examples of smoking ads, Dove ads and Special K ads later in my unit.
Once the target audience is determined and researched, students will begin the brainstorming process. I will use smoking as an example to outline this process. In order to get students into the mindset of smokers I would like them to brainstorm a list of at least fifty words, which come to mind when they think about smoking. I would then like them to choose the top fifteen words from their list, and make a list of ten words for each of those fifteen. This process of brainstorming usually gets your brain to begin thinking outside of the box. For instance we will have discussed tar and how it affects your lungs - if tar were in a student's list of top fifteen words they might then have road, pavement, truck, etc. in their list of ten words for tar. A very effective ad could show a truck pouring tar directly into a smoker's mouth, or paving the inside of their lungs. By the time they are completing this assignment students will have the Photoshop skills to easily create such an ad with the appropriate photographs.
Once students have finished brainstorming their lists they will create thumbnail sketches for five different posters. A thumbnail sketch is a small rough draft, which includes a rough sketch of the images and blocks in any text that will be used in approximately the correct size. Students will choose their favorite three thumbnails and create roughs on the computer from their thumbnails.
Once students have completed three roughs they will complete a peer critique where each student will look at the roughs of two other students. I think that doing peer critiques in an art class is extremely important for two reasons. The first reason is that it is important to get feedback from more than one person - as the teacher I am constantly in communication with the students about their ideas, however I am only one brain and cannot always come up with the best ideas. Also, I find that students are each other's best critics, and offer extremely helpful suggestions. Third, peer evaluations require that all students develop critical thinking skills, articulate their criticisms, and learn about the projects of their peers (or something like this). Before we begin the critique I always have a discussion with the students to clarify the purpose of the critique. First they should be stating
what they like about the artwork. Then they should be offering
suggestions to improve the artwork. It is important that the suggestions be specific because students often want to say, "I like it" without elaborating or really giving constructive information. It is also important that they not be negative, but instead offer specific advice to improve a work.
By the end of this unit each student should have three rough drafts for each topic: smoking, nutrition and body image. As a class we will then vote, choosing the most successful out of each student's nine roughs, to determine which posters will be printed, laminated and hung around the school.