Students compete to create cover art for the ‘Torch’

By Kathleen Hartsfield
Guest Writer

On April 11, members of the editorial staff of Union’s literary arts magazine, the “Torch,” will select the work of a graphic design student to grace the cover of their publication.

Union graphic design students have worked relentlessly for weeks to produce the winning design for the publication’s cover and interior pages.

Graphics students presented their cover designs to staff April 4. From there, editorial staff chose the winning design.

The Torch art is a publication project in Graphics IV (Design Practicum), taught by Assistant Professor of Art Melinda Posey.

For the last three years, the collaboration between the English and art departments has given design students an opportunity to treat the Torch’s staff as an actual client.

“These types of opportunities are what allow our students to succeed in the real world because they are already experienced working with clients and understanding the ins and outs of their profession,” Posey said.

Graphics students must complete the project within three weeks, said Hilary Borden, junior art major with an emphasis in graphic design.

“It gives us a fun project to add to our portfolios,” Borden said.

Kate Weekes, senior art major with an emphasis in graphic design, said she worked about 10 hours on the project.

She created paper cutouts for her design, using a razor knife to make shapes from paper.

As a client, the Torch staff sends the class a “request for proposal,” which asks for work to be provided and serves as a design summary that explains what an artist will do and why.

The design process includes creating a “mock-up,” or an example of what the product will look like.

“It’s very much like a real-world design job,” said Bobby Rogers, English professor and Torch faculty sponsor. “We get some very good designs. I think it’s a shame we can only hire one of them.”

The Torch, an annual publication of submitted poetry, creative writing and nonfiction, is produced entirely by students.

Because the English department is a member of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, faculty cannot be involved in the editing process, Rogers said.

“I think there’s a pride of ownership — that this is an entirely student-driven work,” Rogers said.

The Torch is the only public platform for creative writing at Union.

“This is [the English department’s] primary outlet where creative work gets disseminated to the community, so it’s vitally important,” Rogers said.

Whitney Williams, senior English and philosophy major and this year’s editor-in-chief, said asking graphic design students to work for the Torch gives the designers an opportunity to garner job experience and portfolio content.

“It’s an incredible thing to put this on a resume, to say, ‘I had 1,000 copies of my design published and sent out across America,’” Williams said.

Torch editorial staff members have chosen student graphic artwork since 1999. This will be its fourth year to be included in class assignments for Graphics IV, Rogers said.

Past winners include Mason Freeman in 2012, Kate Allen in 2011 and Ben Watson in 2010.