Creative Flair Targets Great Cause

South County Times, June 7, 2013.

A local project honoring Vietnam Veterans is demonstrating there is no age, race, background or ideology that cannot be bridged for a common cause.

In the fall of last year, the Sunset Hills Historical Society spearheaded the effort to make St. Louis one of the stops for the American Veterans Traveling Tribute (AVTT). The historical society sprang to life when different local organizations, businesses, and citizens joined together in an effort that coalesced into the Show-Me Hero Salute (SMHS).

Some of the major items on the agenda for the included creation of a website, promotional materials, a logo and graphic design elements.

Enter Professor Chuck Groth of St. Louis Community College at Meramec in Kirkwood. He attended one of the early Show-Me meetings and said that both he and his students in the graphic arts design program would be happy to assist.

“I thought the Show-Me Hero Salute event would be an ideal class project because it required a good deal of research on the students’ part to do it effectively,” Groth said. “It gives them a greater understanding of an important part of the country’s history and the role graphic designers can play in communicating concepts and shaping public perceptions.”

Groth modified his curriculum to allow for a series of related projects where his students could apply an encompassing set of design skills. The undertaking would mimic what they might encounter in a real-world professional setting when working with a client.

Stephen Hanpeter, president of the Sappington-Concord Historical Society said the group wanted the website to be a one-stop shop and information anchor. The website not only would serve as an open invitation for the public to visit and experience the AVTT Traveling Wall, but to offer the chance to any and everyone to participate in organizing, publicizing and contributing to the event.

With those ideas in mind, SMHS provided the basic structure, pictures and elements needed for promotion and communication to the Meramec graphic design students.

The students were responsible for creating the SMHS logo, letterhead and matching envelopes, business cards, posters, fliers, and handbills. They also designed an innovative three-dimensional pop-up poster, as well as website graphics. The class is working on long-term souvenirs for all event attendees to include a wall rubbing sheet and a printed event program listing the speakers and ceremony scheduled for the five-day event.

“Starting with the logo we have found the students in their work to be innovative, insightful, and prolific, and they brought a sense of energy and vision to the project,” Hanpeter said. “We were blown away at [the logo’s] simplicity and beauty. The star in place of the dash used in our group name is a point of inspiration.”

Hanpeter said the website design is fitting and appropriate for the uses of SMHS.

It is simple, yet elegant — much like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial itself,” he noted.

Groth was insightful enough to see that this project would give his students real-world experience.

“The SMHS would not have gotten far with publicity efforts or crafting the message of the event without them,” he said.

According to Groth, the students were very enthusiastic and approached the wide-ranging task in a highly professional manner. He was impressed by the way they worked together as a group and the commitment they conveyed to the project.

“I couldn’t be happier with the work they produced because they did the work themselves,” Groth said. “They did it to a high standard and they not only learned valuable skills, but put them to use to benefit the community.”

Justin Tolliver, a graphic design student who worked on the project, said that his class discussed the meaning and history of the memorial. He said the AVTT graphic project was a group effort and everyone pitched in to do their part. working on the website was a new challenge for them.

“It was a different sort of project for us and a good chance to get to work with group members and also members of the community in dealing with something that is so touching to people and carries great importance,” Tolliver said.

Tolliver has visited the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. and has seen the Traveling Wall several years ago, but said he will definitely make the effort to see the AVTT Traveling Wall event this month.

“Just having the opportunity to be part of that was a pretty worthwhile endeavor,” Tolliver conveyed. “It was something I was grateful I was able to help out with.”


Published: South County Times, June 7, 2013. (Link below)

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