For more than 10 years, major companies across the country have taken notice of students in Radnor High School's Commercial Art class.
Ever since Erik Barrett began teaching the course, he has assigned his students a particularly inventive project: the redesign of an existing company or product logo for incorporation into a new stationery system (business card, letterhead and envelope). Once the design and printing is complete, the students mail their package directly to the company with a letter explaining the project and why they chose that company. The businesses often respond by sending products, memorabilia and letters of appreciation.
"This project is truly a favorite one," Barrett wrote in an email. "The students have received some really cool responses and 'stuff' over the years."
The project is meant to teach students how to develop an original logo and understand its importance in the success of a product and/or company. Prior to beginning the work on their designs, Barrett provides the students with an historical overview of some famous logos like those for The Rolling Stones, Apple, McDonald's and Facebook. He discusses the evolution of corporate logos and the reasons for their many changes. Finally, he reviews the true purpose of logos as they relate to brand and corporate identity. Students then research their chosen logos and/or companies to uncover their backgrounds and history.
"It was a very interesting project and a great way to learn about how these products are made," said freshman Katherine Begier, who chose the nail polish company Essie for her project.
The students begin the redesign process by deconstructing the original logo through a series of thumbnail sketches. They refine their designs into a crisp pencil rendering then scan and import them into Adobe Photoshop to complete the finishing work. Barrett mattes and hangs the final products across from the art room for the entire school to appreciate.
"It was cool to put yourself in the graphic designer's shoes who work for the company," said freshman Morgan Gryga, whose redesign of the logo for clothing company Forever 21 earned a response. "It was exciting because I was thinking this really could catch the world's attention."
Freshman Allen Warfield got one of the most generous responses from his chosen company, Razer. The video game accessory business sent him temporary tattoos, a bracelet, a hat, stencils and a hand-written letter.
"I always wanted to do graphic design," Warfield said. "Radnor High School gave me the chance to do it and I can see myself doing it as a job."
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