Design Streak Studio celebrated its 40th anniversary with an opening reception and exhibition at the University Galleries which was marked by a positive and positive mood from the hundred or so people gathered at Uptown Normal on November 3.
Design Streak Studio’s art and creative director, Archana Shekara, a graphic design teacher at Wonsook Kim School of Art, served as host and host for the occasion. She welcomed colleagues, former colleagues, friends, current students and a panel of former students for whom their Design Streak Studio experience was essential to their success.
The exhibit, “Designing Discoveries,” runs through December 18 and showcases Design Streak projects familiar to campus and city communities. The logos of the City of Normal, Normal Public Library, McLean County, YWCA McLean County Labyrinth Products, National Center for Urban Education, and Illinois Art Station are exposed.
Former professor Pam Tannura started Design Streak Studio in 1981, then ran it for almost 25 years before another former professor, Julie Johnson, took over as helm from 2005 to 2015. Shekara is the third director , having taken over in 2016. The celebration capped a series of talks given by renowned graphic designers and educators.
Honored alumni invited to participate in the ‘Celebrating Alumni’ roundtable included: Caryn Aono ’81; Jeremy Christy ’11; Gabe González ’17; John Havemann ’92; Cliff Sack ’83; Micah Vetter ’20; and Tony Williams ’22.
Sack, who has worked in corporate communications for most of his career, advised the students in attendance to never give up. He said it all started for him with Tannura and Design Streak.
“It’s just an honor for me to be here and show my gratitude,” he said.
Thirty years ago, Havemann designed the Town of Normal logo. He said he was delighted to see that it is still in use. He went on to work on famous campaigns, including for Allstate Insurance (the “chaos” guy) and for McDonald’s Happy Meal ads. He told students not to be discouraged when their ideas face revisions.
“Having thick skin,” he said. “Don’t take any of this personally. Keep moving forward”
Christy works for the DESTIHL brewery and said he has moved from designing wedding invitations to beer, which he says is a lot more fun. He still uses what he learned in Design Streak.
“I have the same clients every day, my bosses,” he said. “Have a reason, a purpose because you have to convince someone why you chose a design or a color.”
Vetter credited Shekara for teaching him to put his customers first.
“Your customers are more important than your design preferences,” she said.
Williams, who works for an agency in Chicago, told the students not to play it safe with their designs.
“Swing big on your personal ideas,” Williams said. “If you drink, who cares? »
Shekara, who teaches her students to emphasize cultural understanding in design, spoke directly to Williams.
“We are people of color. Sometimes we have to work twice as hard,” she said. “I’m so proud of you.”
Director of Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Doris Houston, described Design Streak as integral to the University’s equity, diversity and inclusion journey.
“We all appreciate how you, Archana, have led and taught your students to use their own visual creativity to both inspire and drive social change,” Houston said.
Dr. Katy Strzepek, Director of the Center for Civic Engagement, offered her congratulations and thanked Shekara and her students for helping to elevate the University’s core value of civic engagement.
Aono ’81 has been a graphic designer in Los Angeles and a professor in the California Institute of the Arts’ graphic design program since 1989. Shekara said Aono started Design Streak in 1981 when she was a student at Tannura.
“It was really a collective idea that came out organically during discussions with Pam about what to do,” Aono said. “I didn’t feel ready, and my wallet looked weird…what should I put in my wallet to be able to get a job?” So that was the goal.
Tannura described Aono as more than talented. Looking back, she said she was surprised by the program’s longevity and popularity, as it took a struggle to get it off the ground.
“It’s been a long road,” Tannura said. “I fought for it. I fought for academic credit for it. I fought for space for it when I was told we didn’t need it. The Loop is closed. It feels good.”
Dean of Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts, Jean Miller, thanked Shekara and described the work produced by her students as “always exceptional”.
“Design Streak Studio is an absolute source of pride for the college and Illinois State University and will likely be here for another 40 years,” Miller said.
Shekara thanked the panelists for sharing their wisdom, challenges and difficulties. To her predecessors, Tannura and Johnson, she said, “Thank you for starting this, and I promise to continue this legacy.”
In the moments after the panel ended as she made her way to the reception, Shekara summed up how she felt.
“Amazing, so gratifying, gratifying,” she said. “Celebrating is an emotional moment for me. I’m just grateful, blessed. I believe in karma and grace. It was meant to be.