Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Sola Park ‘14 founded the Swarthmore Graphic Design Club in January, 2012, with the intention of finding other people who were interested in learning how to use graphic design tools, such as Photoshop Illustrator. More people were interested in working independently and less invested in the collaborative aspect, so the club dwindled to two or three people meeting informally. Park continued to advertise, though minimally.
This semester, Park was surprised to see a sudden surge of interest. Several freshmen came, eager to learn how to use graphic design tools. Park was glad to see new members coming to the club for the reason she had started it in the first place. “Many of the freshmen came to learn how to use Photoshop, the way I began the club,” Park said.
Average meetings tend to be casual and unstructured. Because everyone is, to differing extents, still learning how to use the tools, Park teaches new members by directing them to tutorials. More experienced members use the club meeting time as a time to motivate themselves to work on their own projects. “I’m personally using the time to come up with a portfolio for jobs,” Park said. Many members enjoy the club as a space to bounce ideas off of each other.
With the uptick in attendance, Park hopes to focus the club’s effort on a few projects. She said that several members are interested in designing posters to help advertise for the club. In the past, leaders of other clubs have approached her about creating posters for their own clubs. “Now that I have a group of people, it would be interesting if we could help other clubs make posters,” Park said. The club is not currently chartered, but Park sees it as a possibility if interest continues to grow.
Park mentioned that using graphic design tools often seems intimidating to the inexperienced. “I thought the idea of using graphic tools was limiting for people because they were daunted by the idea,” Park said. She intentionally advertised the club to include people with no prior experience with these tools.
Park, a Studio Art and Computer Science double major, was inspired to learn more about graphic design when people suggested that the area would give her the opportunity to combine her two majors. “It’s still interesting how it provides a connection for both of my interests, and it’s a whole new field,” Parks said. She is currently designing a website with a friend, providing her with an opportunity to put her new skills to use.
Looking towards the future, Park sees graphic design tools as being increasingly useful in the workplace, no matter what one’s area of interest is. “I feel like these are very practical tools that you might need at some point, even if you’re not an artist or interested in making art,” Park said. She noted that Swarthmore does not have a class on using these tools but speculated that if interest in the club grew, a course might be offered in the future.
Park is glad to have the opportunity to pass on her interest in learning about graphic design to a new generation of Swarthmore students. “Now that it’s my last year, I hope that this club grows and stays even after I graduate.”
The Swarthmore Graphic Design Club meets on Wednesdays from 9:00 to 11:00 and Friday from 7:00 to 9:00 in the Media Center, located in the basement of Beardsley.