The Motion Media Design department at SCAD organizes a quarterly workshop to build a bridge between students and industry professionals. These workshops are open to all majors, but typically are filled by Motion Media Design, Illustration, Advertising, and Graphic Design students. The underlying philosophy of the Inspire Workshop is to simulate a real-world studio experience, complete with a creative brief, teams, a “client”, and a deadline. In SCAD workshops, the industry guests serve as the client and work with the Motion Media Design faculty to develop the creative brief. Students are grouped into teams based on skill-set and experience.
For the most recent Inspire Workshop, SCAD invited two industry guests to lead a hands-on design challenge. The industry guests were Daniel Oeffinger from Buck NYC, and Matt Smithson of Man vs. Magnet. In addition to being accomplished designers and directors, both guests are SCAD alumni and recipients of the ADC Young Guns Awards. Both Daniel and Matt also excel at illustration and character design. The industry guests and faculty of SCAD worked together to develop a fictional creative brief for the online music brand Spotify. Students were challenged to define and create a branded anthem to introduce Spotify to a broad audience. The key phrase students were given was “Music for Everyone.” The deliverable for the project was a PDF presentation of ideation, written treatment, inspiration, sketches and/or character designs, style frames, and/or design boards. The assignment reflects the concept development and design phases of a motion design project, prior to animation production.
The workshop kicked off in the evening with industry guests introducing themselves and taking questions from a group of around 100 students. The creative brief was introduced and students broke into teams of three to begin concept development. What followed was two days of intense brainstorming and design. Both Daniel and Matt provided feedback and creative direction to all of the groups. PDF presentations were submitted on Saturday and the students were prepared to pitch their concepts. The workshop held a five-hour marathon critique of each group’s work. Students were encouraged to be concise and clear in their presentations, and the industry guests gave excellent feedback.
A particular benefit of constrained workshops is that students are encouraged to dive into the creative process. There is not enough time to procrastinate, and working within a group provides an external structure for motivation. Students are also able to practice their technical skills in a time-sensitive manner as well as gain experience presenting their concepts and design.
There were many strong outcomes, but more importantly, the process was rewarding for the students. At every Inspire Workshop, for a few days, SCAD classrooms are transformed into collaborative studios. Students gain first-hand knowledge of working from a creative brief, within a team, and with a strict deadline. This combination creates an alchemical fire that teaches lessons about instinctive creativity that forges beyond typical classroom assignments. Students learn to be decisive and resourceful while maintaining composure under pressure. Of course, being an extended learning opportunity, there are no budgets and client expectations to manage. This dynamic allows students to dry-run creative challenges and test the waters of creative collaboration.