Islander Graphic Design Students Showcase Environmental Concerns in K Space Exhibition

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A plastic bag snagged on a fishing lure. A taco filled with throwaway items like a drink lid and a plastic fork. A clever reworking of a familiar image – that of a female swimmer in deep water with bold red type above the ocean surface. They are but a few of the 16 arresting images in “Unsustainable: A Design for Good Poster Exhibition” that is on display at K Space Contemporary in downtown Corpus Christi until Nov. 28.

The posters are a class assignment that was completed this fall by Graphic Design majors in the Design For Good course (GRDS 3303), an advanced class taught by Assistant Professor of Art Andrea Hempstead that focuses on responsible design and sustainability.

“This year's student-chosen topic is Corpus Christi beach pollution,” Hempstead said. “Each poster approaches that topic in a different way.”

The project is inspired by Green Patriot Posters, a collaborative designer-initiated intervention centered on posters that encourage Americans to take part in building a sustainable economy. Student designs were required to feature a strong, engaging, clear and concise message composed of type and image and contain a strong visual metaphor.

“Posters are seemingly easy to design, but they can be very difficult to execute successfully because you have to grab somebody's attention from far away with something that would make them want to walk closer and read more about it,” Hempstead said. “It's a deceptively simple design because it's actually hard to do something simple and memorable in a way that grabs your attention.”

Junior Jacob Sazon, who hails from Abilene, Texas, said he began with ocean pollution before narrowing his design concept, “Surf’s Up,” to one that is specific to Corpus Christi. He said students used brainstorming processes like word listing and thumbnail sketches to arrive at a more focused visual direction.

“I think I was the only one to focus on bacterial contamination in local waters,” Sazon said. “It’s great that as a collective we were able to tackle a range of different areas pertaining to the same overall issue. Hopefully, we addressed some problems that people may not have even known about.”

Rockport junior Drew Scott said she selected a seemingly ubiquitous Corpus Christi delicacy to make a strong point about the effects of pollution in our local waters.

“For my design concept, I began to research about what effects pollution was having in Corpus Christi,” Scott said. “Plastic makes up 93% of beach pollution, which is consumed by the seafood that we, too, later consume. This led me to my concept of incorporating pieces of trash into a classic Corpus Christi fish taco.”

Scott said she has received a great deal of positive response from family and friends.

“I think it has really brought to life the impact on plastic pollution in our beaches. It gives great emphasis to what is happening and how even our health is at risk,” Scott said.

Hempstead said the posters were hung on Nov. 12 at K Space, a long-running 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that is located at 623 N. Contemporary and is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

“It's wonderful that there's an opportunity to showcase the exhibition in a public space where people can see the posters and hopefully be influenced to change their behavior,” Hempstead said.

Sazon said he is excited to see his poster design in a gallery setting. 

“It’s always refreshing to see work in real-life rather than just on a screen. I think it’s my first piece I’ve had shown in a gallery, so I’m pretty stoked on it,” Sazon said. “Our program at the Island University is filled with so many talented designers, and I’m grateful that we have professors who are proud of our work and set up opportunities to show them off. Every designer has a voice and the tools to make an impact, and I hope that’s what this exhibition does.”