Happy Vibes: CCAD students connect with American Greetings
There’s no denying that this world of instant communications that getting a card addressed to you in the mail or on your desk at school or work instantly brightens your day. It brings a smile to your face when you look at the design and special message knowing that someone took the time to pick this card and give it to you.
That’s the thought behind a special project card collection that Cleveland-based American Greetings brought to Columbus College of Art & Design’s Illustration Markets and Children’s Illustration Markets courses taught by Assistant Professor Maria Carluccio and Adjunct Faculty David Groff in spring semester 2020. Aptly named “Happy Vibes,” the collection features small cards with cheerful messages to share with friends, classmates, and coworkers.
The assignment for these Illustration students was to create their own design concept of a Happy Vibes mini card collection, including six cards and a complementary Happy Vibes Cards sign for a card rack. The best four designs, two per class, have the option to be printed by American Greetings.
Melissa Forman (Illustration, 2002) and Jim Rhinehelder, both senior art directors in the Visual Studios at American Greetings, are heading up the Happy Vibes project. According to Forman, the goal of the project was to identify emerging artists at four schools this year by offering students a chance to work on an actual project for the greeting card company.
“American Greetings is a creative company that strives to create relationships with talented artists across the country and abroad,” Forman says. “As a company, we are constantly looking for new talent that pushes our product category in new directions, and art schools are a great place to meet emerging artists.”
While the company had previously assigned projects asking students to design one holiday card, the Happy Vibes project asked students to create a collection of six cards. Two key qualities that Forman and Rhinehelder wanted in the greeting card collection design were stylistic cohesiveness and evoking a mood that will gain the attention of consumers.
While this is a first-time collaboration with American Greetings, CCAD students often have opportunities to gain real-world experience. They can participate in art fairs and gallery shows, be involved in community projects, pick up freelancing gigs on the CCAD job board, have internships at organizations and businesses, and take special project courses.
“We try to get students to experience what it looks and feels like to work with a corporation,” says Carluccio, who instructs the Children’s Market course. “With my students, I tried to break the project into phases. I had specific benchmarks that they needed to accomplish at each phase.”
Despite the challenges of going to online classes in the middle of the project due to COVID-19 pandemic, 23 students submitted their collections to American Greetings. Four winners were selected, two from each Illustration course: Clara Jenkins (Illustration, 2021), Bayley Killmeier (Illustration, 2020), Sam Shainoff (Illustration, 2021), and Jessica Willmore (Advertising & Graphic Design, 2020).
Forman says, “All of the submissions were so inspiring and so well-crafted. It was a hard choice. The ones that were selected as the winners were chosen for how well they fit the greeting card category. Cards seem so simple but are actually very complicated to design. … A good card will be incredibly general and incredibly specific at the same time. The collections we chose as the winners did a perfect job of keeping that me-to-you sender and recipient relationship in mind. They followed design trends, utilized sophisticated color palettes, and held together stylistically, but still felt appealing to a broad range of consumers and recipients.”