By: Nouran Abdellatif

Graphic design professor Chris Jones came up with the idea of getting third-year students to work with local clients. One student is working on an Ottawa Public Health campaign and in exchange for creative products, the clients will donate $500 to the Algonquin College Foundation.

Letterheads, e-cards, interactive PDFs, posters and logos – these are some of the things Algonquin’s third-year graphic design students are creating for 20 Ottawa-based non-profit organizations.

It began with graphic design professor Chris Jones, who contacted different organizations to help the students experience what it would be like working with a client and add to their portfolios as a part of a branding and communications course. In exchange for the students’ design skills, each organization will contribute $500 to the Algonquin College Foundation that will fund the grad show at the end of the year as well as bursaries for third-year graphic design students.

“I’ve been very pleased with the results,” said Jones in an email to the Times. “Clients have been giving me glowing reviews [and] are impressed with the work of our students.”

Margaret Hollett of Ottawa Public Health is one of the satisfied clients. She said the students are very creative and bright.

“I can’t begin to say how impressed I am with the students,” said Hollett.

One of OPH’s campaigns is about safe sex which will be launched around Valentine’s Day. It was the student’s idea to create a Valentine’s Day card. They took the existing “Sex is Smart” brand and “took it to a new level,” Hollett said.
Student Rhiannon Charette is working with the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation. Though she has had experience with clients before, she said it’s different when it’s a big name client.

“It’s been eye-opening,” said Charette. “I’m glad we got the chance to do this because you get to see how it is with real clients and how much knowledge they have of design and how much we have to put into it and how much we have to keep in contact with them.”

Working with clients isn’t without its challenges though.

“There’s a disconnect between what you want and what they want,” said Branko Dunderjerovic, adding that the key was to meet the client halfway and create something that pleases them but has your own imprint.

This is all part of what Jones wants his students to learn.

“Along the way, they learn the importance of effective communication and understanding the goals of the client,” said Jones. “Entrepreneurial skills and innovation are valuable skills in today’s market. Students [will] gain the confidence and experience that will help them make the step into employment.