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Professor 'Spices Up' National Competition

June 26, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Kim Mathie

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Anthony Watkins is no slouch when it comes to winning graphic design awards. The last two years he’s won national recognition from Graphic Design USA for his in-house design. But he seems to take it all in stride.

“It’s nice to be validated by peers, get an outside eye,” said Watkins, who teaches graphic design and typography in the SHSU art department. “Sometimes you can get so close to a project that, of course, you think it’s great work.”

Anthony Watkins's Logo
Watkins's award-winning logo

Graphic Design USA is a national news magazine for graphic designers and creative professionals. The magazine hosts an annual competition divided into different categories like package design, cover design, or web design, for example. Watkins submitted work under the category “in-house design,” which is work made within a larger organization as opposed to an outside agency. Submissions come from organizations of all sizes and include businesses like IBM, GEICO Insurance and Walmart.

The American In-house Design Awards is the original and the premier showcase for outstanding work by in-house designers, according to the Graphic Design USA website. It provides a unique opportunity for in-house design, marketing and communications departments to be recognized for their talent, for the challenges they face, and for their value to businesses and institutions.

Watkins’s work for the art department has garnered recognition two years in a row—in 2011 and 2012—and has included a program logotype and a catalog featuring the SHSU art faculty.

Out of more than four thousand entries, just a few hundred winners are chosen; however, as a graphic artist, there are few hints to go on.

“I had no idea what the judges are looking for,” said Watkins. “Or how they see the work they’re looking at, what separates one work from another. There’s a very subjective aspect to the judging.”

Also, with so many entries, it’s impossible for GDUSA to provide feedback to those submitting.

Watkins is OK with that, believing the goal for all projects, whether heading to a competition or not, is good design.

“I think good design, I don’t know, maybe it makes things more valuable, but it certainly demonstrates value,” said Watkins.

Watkins’s logotype “Spicing It up” is a good example of what design can do for a fledging program, in this case a critique workshop.

“Perhaps the workshop didn’t need it,” said Watkins of the logotype, “but if you see something that is done well, with care put into it, isn’t there something right and good about it? It can make you feel better about participating.”

In addition to being among other faculty, including Chuck Drumm and Taehee Kim, Watkins said there have been some important and positive changes in the program.

“We just incorporated a portfolio review for students wanting to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design,” said Watkins. “They need to pass the review to be fully admitted into the program.

“There’s a renewed sense of seriousness and enthusiasm among the students,” Watkins continued. “They need to understand that a high quality body of work is expected, and necessary to achieve success as a graphic designer.”

In addition, a production studio has recently been added to Art Building E.

“Hand skills are still important when manually building things,” Watkins said. “To produce really well-done work, it’s also about training the eye, having that attention to detail.”

Previously, students had no choice but to use outside resources to create their projects, not always with success. In this new studio, there will be specialized equipment for cutting, trimming, binding and gluing in a space that’s clean and secure yet still accessible to students.

“Limitations are great,” said Watkins. “But sometimes we place unnecessary limitations on ourselves because of lack of resources.”

The production studio will help with that.

“It also takes away the opportunities for excuses,” said Watkins with a smile.

To learn more about Watkins or to view his portfolio, visit his website and blog at www.officialofficeof.com.



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