Off the Wall: Toast to the Designer

Welcome to Off the Wall. We’ve skimmed the news around the museum, and want to share the highlights with you.

This week, we’re taking a moment to shine the spotlight on one of our most important team members here at the FJJMA! Michele Archambo is the museum’s incredibly talented graphic design student. We found her through the 102nd Annual School of Art and Art History Student Exhibition last year, a show that featured her promotional designs. Since joining our team, she has created a plethora of unique and beautiful designs, from quirky logos–like this one for ArtEDGE–to awesome program branding. For today’s post, we want to share with you a glimpse into the process of Michele’s latest design, through a casual Q and A with the designer herself!

The museum hosts an annual fundraiser in the spring called Toast to the Arts, featuring wine tasting, hors d’oeouvres, and entertainment. The theme for this year’s event is Bubbles and Blossoms and alludes to the fact that the event will feature beautiful flower arrangements designed by local florists and inspired by works from the museum’s permanent collection. Drawing from this theme, Michele created stunning watercolor paintings of richly colored flowers, leaves, and blooms.

Q: How did you transform the watercolor works into a digital design?

Once I painted all of the flowers and leaves, I took photos of them, cut them out from the white paper background in PhotoShop, and arranged them into the collage–like the pattern you see! [See end of post for images]

Q: What was your inspiration for the colors and feel of the design?

Floral patterns are very popular right now. Companies like Rifle Paper Co. have helped to repopularize them. I wanted a range of blues and greens in the leaves to add visual interest while keeping the flowers all in the same color family, so that the end result looked cohesive. I chose the dark blue-grey background to match the museum’s roof and floor color!

Q: Have you taken classes in watercolor?

I’ve grown up taking art classes that taught a range of mediums, but I’ve always shied away from watercolor. It is a hard medium to control! When painting, my go-to is acrylic, and that’s what I’ve always used in classes. For this project, though, watercolor was the best choice; so I did what I had to do, and was honestly surprised how well my vision came to life!

Q: In terms of creative design, do you prefer computer/digital designing or the more traditional mediums?

When I was a freshman here at OU, I would have told you I preferred traditional mediums in a heartbeat–but that’s really because I didn’t have any education in graphic design. Now that I’m a senior, my answer is that I love where graphic design and traditional art overlaps the most. I don’t think I could choose just one if I had to!

Q: What would you say the biggest difference is in the creative process between the two?

The biggest difference for me, between traditional art and graphic design, is the mental process. I’ve been drawing and painting for so long that when I have a vision or composition in mind, I can almost stop thinking and just draw or paint. The process is really relaxing and even a bit cathartic. Graphic design, on the other hand, takes a lot of continuous thinking and rethinking, evaluating and reevaluating. The process is intense at times, but it makes the end result all the more rewarding!

Q: How long does this kind of design process usually take you–from conception, to creation, to final product?

The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art can throw you curve balls in terms of deadlines, because there is always something new on the horizon (which I really love!), so being able to work quickly is important. The designs for this project–from concept to painting the final product–took about six hours. After that, it’s all about applying the designs to print and web mediums, which ranges from project to project.

Michele Archambo is a senior Visual Communication major with an art history minor at the University of Oklahoma. She is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma.





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