b'\n\n\t\n\t\n\t\n\t\n\t\n\t\n\t\n\t\n\tAndrew Lilja • Gustavus Homecoming Poster\n\n\n\t
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Gustavus Homecoming Poster

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My senior year at Gustavus, I was a part of the Campus Activities Board (CAB) as a co-publicity chair. My\nfirst (and largest) project was to work on the media for homecoming:\nposters, t-shirts, hats, and other advertising material. I would be\nsolely responsible for the entire look of homecoming, and while I had\ncreative control, I still needed to work closely with my fellow board\nmembers to acheive a cohesive look that pleased everyone, along with\nmembers of the college administration.

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Sadly, due to a hard drive crash and some faulty backups1, I only have the final products —\nall in-progress work was deleted.

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Armed with the pre-approved tagline ("We are Gusties, hear us roar,\nready for 150 more!"2) I set off to work. I decided early on that\nbecause we were celebrating the school and its longevity, I should\nmaintain strong themes of legacy, its heritage, and elements that would\nbe instantly recognizable to all students. Unfortunately, our mascot was\nbeing redesigned and was not allowed for usage in any college media,\nwhich left me with few strong icons to use. I considered using the three\ncrowns, but those are strongly associated with Sweden, and I wanted\nsomething truly Gustavus to use.

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I ultimately decided to rely on Gustavus\' two main colors: black and\ngold. You can\'t find anything Gustavus-related without black and gold on\nit somewhere, and students go out of their way to find black and gold\nclothes to wear. Without a logo or mascot, those colors became our\nlogo, and so I felt that by using them as the primary elements of the\nbranding, the media elements would be both consistent and immediately\nidentifiable as something that belonged to Gustavus alone. I created\nsome sketches and some colored thumbnails and presented them to the\nboard, who were very pleased with the idea and let me start working.

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The final poster.

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After working with the board, who didn\'t like my initial clean and\nmodern posters, I settled on a heritage look: contemporary, geometric\nsans fonts mixed with blocky serifs to evoke a modern Gustavus with\nstrong, chiseled roots and history that really would let us survive\nfor another 150 years. A few simple decorations coupled with ornate,\nplaque-like lines to give it a sense of permanence finished it off. I\nmade the tagline the primary element primarily so that it would be what\npeople would see and immediately remember. The posters would be\neverywhere, and in previous years, the tagline had been lost in large\namount of scheduling. I wanted the slogan to be on everyone\'s minds for\nthe entire week, so I gave it a place of honor and prominence.

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But people still needed to know where all the events were. I wanted the\nschedule to be readable from a distance, even if you couldn\'t read the\nwords. You should be able to look and see how the events were\ndistributed and which days you definitely didn\'t want to miss. Friday\nand Saturday were presented in strong fonts, with key information (like\nevent names) made very obvious. I tried to structure the schedule with\nthis kind of hierarchy overall: if something caught your eye, you could\nget closer and figure out details like time and place, but they wouldn\'t\noverwhelm you if you just glanced at or were browsing.

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The change in schedule hierarchy\nbetween an early design and the final choice.

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The focus on color as the primary branding element presented a problem:\nyou can\'t just sell plain black and gold t-shirts for \\$15. They need to\nhave something on them, but with no logo or graphic element, I didn\'t\nknow what to use. I knew I didn\'t want to\njust slap the tagline on the front of the shirts and call it a day. One\nof the board members, a long-time legacy student whose family members\nback through her grandparents had gone to Gustavus, suggested I check\nout the Gustavus archives and see what I could find. That turned out to\nbe an incredibly helpful idea: it was there I found the old Gustavus\nseal.

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Working from some old, blurry pictures and the only physical version of\nthe seal I could get my hands on, I redrew the seal in Illustrator and\nadded a few homecoming elements in the same style. I iterated through\nseveral designs, first with my publicity co-chairs, and then with the\nboard at large until we settled on the final design. It ultimately\nbecame the iconic mark of homecoming. It was such a powerful,\nrecognizable image, that I used it as the background for all media — a\nsort of subtle, cohesive thread that pulled everything together.

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Homecoming was a huge success that year. Normally, shirts and\nmemorabilia from it are discarded not long after it ends, but people\nwore their homecoming swag for years afterwards. One of my board members\ntold me that one day she was wearing hers and a freshman wanted to know\nwhere to get one!

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Two of the colorways for the\nhomecoming t-shirts.

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