A half dozen alumni and an instructor from OSU Institute of Technology’s School of Visual Communications took home awards at Graphex 49, an annual competition that honors creative professionals in the areas of design, advertising and marketing.
Graphex is presented by the Art Directors Club of Tulsa, a nonprofit professional organization for those in the visual communications field.
At this year’s awards ceremony, five alumni and one instructor were awarded Graphex prizes at the ceremony held May 10 at Living Arts of Tulsa.
Alumni that were recognized in the Motion/Video category included Stephanie Pinkston for her work as creative services manager for Cherokee Nation Businesses on the Visit Cherokee Nation Osiyo videos as well as for Casino Holiday E-cards along with graphic artist Dwayne Wegley and web editor Linda Secrist.
In the Photography category, Todd Pyland, who served as creative director, and Clay Flores, who worked as a photographer, were both recognized for their work with Jeremy Charles Photography on the Carnivale 2018 Stars and Stripes fundraising event promotion.
Brian Caldwell is an instructor in the Graphic Design program and took home an award in the Packaging/Product category for his illustration, package design, prototype assembly, copy writing and art direction for packaging of KATO-5 vinyl figurines.
“Honestly, I was floored that my work was picked, which then evolved to me being flattered that my peers and fellow creatives thought what I did was worthy enough for an award,” he said.
OSUIT’s Visual Communications has been involved with Graphex for more than 25 years beyond having students, faculty and alumni enter the competition.
James McCullough, dean of Visual Communications, said faculty and students are also responsible for the presentation, set-up and tear-down of the physical display of all winning pieces, and the school’s display at the awards ceremony.
“This has been a major undertaking that we have committed huge amounts of time and energies to in this effort for the Tulsa and surrounding area design community,” McCullough said.
Entering competitions like Graphex is the best way to stay up to date with the newest features in software, Caldwell said, as well as trends and styles in the industry that he can then use in his teaching.
“It helps keep my class projects relevant, which in turns keeps my students up to date with the design industry,” he said. “I am a firm believer that if you do not utilize all of your creative skill set day in and day out you will stagnate as a designer and lose those skills slowly over time.”
By entering his work into Graphex, which has student categories as well as professional, Caldwell hopes he sets a good example to his students that they too should enter their work in order for it to get better.
“It is one of many ways for a designer to self-evaluate their work and design style while seeing what others in your field are creating for their clients with similar projects. Plus it is quite a boost to one’s ego if you win or it pushes you to improve your conceptual and design skills if you do not win.”
It can be tough for students to submit their work into competitions like Graphex because those contests are inherently subjective, said McCullough.
“You have to put your stuff out there, you have to put yourself out there. They have to be willing to do that because it’s part of our business,” he said. “If you’re entering just to garner awards and praise, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. If you’re doing it to see how your work is being viewed by your peers, it’s a good thing.”