Opera is an annual staple of AU’s theatre season, and for over ten years, promotion for the opera has been a collaboration between the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance and the Department of Art+Design. The project is the first major client experience for juniors in Professor Kevin Rudynski’s design class with music professors Laurel Goetzinger and Fritz Robinson as their clients.
Rudynski has found the project to be a great way to introduce students to the challenges of working in a professional setting. “The music faculty have been very encouraging. [They] are aware of the creative process and the educational value [of the project], because they are themselves creative professionals and educators,” he says. “If you get a client off campus, they’re not always in tune with the educational goals we have.” [Photo: Brent Kegley presenting his concept for The Magic Flute promotional materials.]
He adds, “It’s good for [students] to talk to faculty they don’t really know; they really listen to what the client says in a way that’s different from a classroom experience.”
The process of creating the promotionals begin as early as September, and the design class takes on the project from start to finish, with the goal of completing it by the end of the fall semester. As the opera’s director and producer, Goetzinger starts by introducing the design class to the story and context in their first meeting.
“To those with no experience with opera, the genre can be misunderstood as being for other people or being stiff or boring,” says Goetzinger. “We strive for promotional materials which dispel this uninformed perspective.”
Initially, students developed their own individual design concepts to present at the first critique. After two periods of revision and refinement, the client selects one students’ concept for the final implementation. By this point the students have developed the central concept through a poster design, as well as a few of the applications including a t-shirt design, a tabletop display, and a newspaper ad.
“It is a great delight to see the unique and disparate approaches that each of the designers discovers,” adds Goetzinger. “Often their perspectives inform our work on the production itself.”
This year, junior Brent Kegley’s concept was chosen. His poster design feature silhouettes of the opera’s two young lovers, Tamino and Pamina, as they enter into the final dramatic moments of the story — trials of fire and water.
Although Kegley’s concept was the only one to be produced, completing the production component of the project was a collaborative effort among the whole class. Kegley served as the art director while he and his fellow classmates worked on various applications for the advertising campaign. As the intermediary between the professors, the vendor who printed the materials, and his cohort, Kegley recognizes that he has gained a great deal insight on the inner workings of a professional design job.
Throughout the course of the project, students learned to work within a budget and size-based constraints. They practiced persuasive presentation skills and how to communicate effectively with vendors. They also come to see that a project isn’t really done until it’s in the clients’ hands and it’s in use.
“I want them to know that they can design effectively within these constraints,” explains Rudynski, “and that it doesn’t crimp their ability to develop quickly creative, effective design work.”
That kind of insight, says Kegley, is “priceless.”
Performances of The Magic Flute will be held at The Boze Lyric Theatre in Byrum Hall on February 21-22, at 7:30 p.m. and on February 23, at 2:30 p.m. For tickets, please call (765) 641-4140 or visit the performance website.
Anderson University is a private Christian university in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.