Four entrepreneurs from Maui Economic Opportunity’s Core Four business planning series worked with 23 UH-Maui College Introduction to Graphic Design students on a Las Vegas-style trade show.
The mutually beneficial project provided new businesses with logo and marketing concepts in building their business identity and students in the CM 125 class a chance to gain real world graphic design experience.
The “We’re Goin’ to Vegas!” project culminated May 12 with a virtual “Shark Tank” style 3 minute presentation pitch by the students of their designs and promotional materials to UH-Maui College Creative Media instructors, MEO representatives and the entrepreneurs.
Marc Antosch, UH-Maui College graphic designer and class instructor, was familiar with MEO and saw an opportunity for a collaboration with the Core Four businesses serving as “clients” for his student designers. He contacted David Daly, director of MEO Business Development Center.
“Everything went quickly into motion and an amazing partnership began,” Antosch said. “The timing was perfect considering that the current Core Four class was near completion, and I was developing the final design project of the semester.
“As instructors at UH-Maui College, we are charged with preparing students for current job markets, career advancement and community engagement. So, there’s no better way than to give students real-world experiences.”
The four businesses selected were at the stage where they needed a logo. Beginning in April, students signed up to work with one of the businesses with the goal of creating a logo and three promotional items for a fictitious Las Vegas trade show.
Students built a design brief, discussed logo concepts and other marketing ideas with the businesses and researched vendors and pricing for the final presentations. Students not only learned about the entire design process but gained knowledge on “the importance of communication, navigating unforeseeable challenges, and even dressing the part as a design professional,” said Antosch.
“The results of the three-week final project were amazing,” he said. “Design students experienced what it is like to be a graphic design professional and entrepreneurs were able to experience what it is like to work with designers. The entrepreneurs also got to see how different designers approached the same project differently.”
Antosch and Daly said they hope to continue this partnership.
“This collaboration allowed our Core Four graduates to take the next steps and use the foundation gained in the business planning series to make their business dreams come true,” said Daly.
“This project exposed us to the highly desired real-world experience I think everyone needs to succeed after graduation,” said student Kayla Guerrero.
“When I started, I didn’t even know how to unzip a file,” said student Christi Kelso. “Now, I have the knowledge and real-life experience in creating graphic art for clients.”
Shawna Spirz of The Happy Honu, a plant-based world cuisine food truck, said she gained insight into what goes into a logo and the design process.
“It was great working with the students,” said Spriz, who had six students on her team. “It was great to see the variety of ideas and logo concepts. Each one had a very different creative and professional process, each one unique and talented.”
Hadley Gustafson of Honeycomb Media LLC said the interaction with the UH-Maui College students was “fulfilling.”
“They came up with lots of good ideas,” said Gustafson, whose business offers web design and other online content with custom photos and videos. “I will likely use some of their ideas and put them together in a new final form. I would love to hire some of them in the future.”
As a businesswoman, she said the partnership helped her effectively communicate the brand’s mission and values and “how that might translate into form.”
She also had high praise for MEO’s Core Four business planning classes, noting “talent alone is not enough.” Her website is https://honeycombmediamaui.com.
The next Core Four 10-class series runs via Zoom from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from July 6 to Aug 5. The cost is $50 and scholarships are available. For more information, go to meoinc.org or call (808) 249-2990.
CM 125 Introduction to Graphic Design will be offered in the fall semester. The prerequisite is CM 123 Photoshop and Illustrator. For more information, go to maui.hawaii.edu/programs/creative-media/ or call (808) 984-3315.