Ligature, a Design Symposium
University of Florida’s Student Juried Graphic Design Show and Weekend Event
The Ligature Design Symposium is a student-run, annual juried exhibit of graduate and undergraduate work from the University of Florida (located in Gainesville, Florida). In February 2008, voxGraphis, UF’s Graphic Design club, hosted the 17th Ligature event, with a dynamic line up of guest speakers, including James Victore, Michael Perry, and Christian Helms (from the Decoder Ring Design Concern).
In years past, the weekend-long Ligature event was usually organized by Senior class members of voxGraphis . This year, however, the students broke down the invisible barrier between the Senior and Junior class. Senior, Beau Bergeron, and Junior, Katie Levy, were the Ligature Co-Chairs. The duo devoted a good portion of their year to organizing the weekend event, which was held on February 15th and 16th, 2008. In order to put it all together, they had to make phone calls, raise money through sponsorships, sell designed products (i.e. hand-made cards and t-shirts), organize student committees, and conceptualize themes and activities. On top of all of this, they were responsible for designing the overall aesthetic of the event, including invitations, signage, promotional materials, and designing the gallery space. Between the two, doing all of this would be too great a task, so they had the support of other students who were also lending talents and time. Beau said,
“Ligature 17 was a huge success because SO many people worked so hard … Katie and I often served as art directors: we gave people what they needed and then supervised. The Ligature website this year had a section with “design materials” that our teams use to create various materials. We created the brand and then oversaw all of its applications.”
The weekend long event began with James Victore’s keynote speech on Friday evening. A couple notable quotes from Victore's speech included quips like:
“It’s so easy to stand out because everyone is doing the same thing.”
“Get away from the idiot box!”
Saturday morning and afternoon were filled with one-on-one portfolio reviews and workshops conducted by James Victore, Christian Helms, and Michael Perry. Mike Perry taught a hand lettering workshop, which involved each student choosing one letter in the alphabet, drawing the letter by hand, and then taking a mini field trip over Gainesville’s favorite copying shop, Target Copy, to print the letter on a large-format printer.
Can you describe the workshops conducted by Mike Perry, James Victore and Christian Helms?
Beau Bergeron: “In Mike’s lecture and portfolio reviews, he emphasized [to] “make it real” versus fake work. For example: making your work bigger, producing 100 instead of 1, using an alternative process instead of a laser printer—[these are] all ways of making your work “real.”
James Victore’s workshop (as well as Christian Helms’) was about telling stories and building narrative in your design work. Victore gave us a challenging “Past, Present, Future” drawing exercise, requiring participants to tell a compelling story using 3 panels. Helms’ workshop involved everyone going on a scavenger hunt for various items such as “something you wouldn’t eat” and “something free with a great logo.”... Everyone returned to Helms’ workshop with grocery bags full of weird stuff. The objects served as triggers for us to tell personal stories. He then encouraged us to create self-initiated work rooted in those personal stories.
Friday morning, started with a workshop lead by UF design alum and Gainesville resident, Steve Shepherd of Alta Inc Printing. Steve worked with a group of mostly sophomore design students, teaching them about the process of printing and the potential pitfalls.”
Please elaborate on this year’s theme, “Attraction and Cross Pollination.”
B.B: Ligature is about the blooming of our program. [It’s] that time in the year where everyone works together, trades ideas and inspiration. Everyone from Grad students to Sophomores work together in creating Ligature and in the workshops. Alums return to meet the new, fresh talent in their old studio. Even the invited guest lecturers are involved in the “cross-pollination.” For example, Mike Perry sat in on James Victore’s workshop and knocked out “past, present, future” sketches right next to us.
What was the process for selecting the pieces for the show and the final judging?
B.B: The 3 guest lecturers and 3 additional designers (including 2 recent alums) judged all of the submissions by viewing them online and scoring them on a 1 - 10 scale. Katie and I looked at the breakdown of last year’s show—If there were 16 senior pieces last year, we gathered the 16 senior pieces that received the highest scores. Sometimes the number fluctuated slightly. For example, we selected one less senior and one more junior because the next pick would have been a 3-way tie. The guests also had a wild card pick: the piece that they MUST have in the show. This year all the “wild card” picks were also pieces that received high scores.
Based on the work selection in the show and feedback from students, the Ligature 2008 was a huge success. It was, according to Beau Bergeron, “arguably the best Ligature EVER.”
Were there any insightful thoughts you want to share from the portfolio reviews with Victore, Perry and Helms?
1. Narrative: Tell a story with your work.
2. That narrative should begin a dialogue between you and the viewer about your self.
3. Be very personal in your work. Your work must tell your potential employers about you and what your interests are.
4. AVOID style. Stop stealing styles. It’s a waste of time.
5. Have a 15 year plan and accomplish it in less time.
6. Pursuing a job is like searching for a serious girlfriend. It’s a relationship.
The Student Winners of Ligature 2008:
Stephanie Gomez, Jonathan Hart and Mason Greenwald won best Senior piece for the collaboration for the Harn Museum of Art.
“This is a poster/mailer for the University of Florida Art History Harn Eminent Scholar Chair in Art History Program. It transforms into a travel kit to inform students of a series of art history lectures and encourages them to attend by providing useful cut-outs that they can use while attending the lectures.”
Morgan Slavens won best Junior for her “50 foot” signage.
“This project uses 3-D type to improve an existing UF policy that states that you have to be 50 ft away from a building to smoke. The 3-D signage is a designator for the space, and also a vehicle for the smoker to dispose of the cigarette: an ashtray. Project includes 3-D type sculpture and a design brief explaining the process and solution.”
Blake Suarez won best Underclassmen for his “Sasquatch” shirts.
“I have been designing shirts for several years now, starting from the basics of
stenciling. Screenprinting has allowed me to develop the complexity of my
designs. These 2 shirts were screenprinted as part of a larger series I have
designed revolving around ‘sasquatch hair.’”
Graduate Student, Kyle White, and “the Diver.”
(18" x24", Acrylic & Paper on Wood)
(view all entries in the show on the official site)
voxGraphis’ Ligature 2008 Student Board:
Ligature Co-Chairs: Beau Bergeron and Katie Levy
Vox Graphis President and Ligature Manager : Rachel Newell
Ligature and voxGraphis Treasurer: Kelly Jeck
Ligature Gallery Installation and Design Captain: Eric Clark
PR Team Captains: Fran Bennett and Lindsey Cull
Donations Manager: Rachel Damond
Valentines Fundraiser Captains: Blake Suarez and Gina Masi