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ISU graphic design students take top honors in ADAI Design Exhibition

July 08, 2015


AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University graphic design students took top honors, including Best of Show, in "Rare Discoveries," the 57th Annual Art Directors Association of Iowa (ADAI) Design Exhibition: Student & Professional Edition.

Jeremy Murray's "Bikes and Beatniks" identity system won Student Best of Show and Student Best of Category in the ADAI Design Exhibition.

Of a total 58 entries by 36 students accepted into the show, more than half—32 entries by 18 students—were from the ISU College of Design.

Jeremy Murray of Ames won the Student Best of Show as well as the Identity System Student Best of Category Award for "Bikes and Beatniks," a short-term identity project he completed in the spring 2015 graphic design junior studio taught by Associate Professor Paula Curran.

Other Iowa State students who won Best of Category awards included:

  • Emily Drees, Grinnell, for sales promotion (also a Judge's Choice Award)
  • Alexandra Flatness, Ankeny, and Alex Huston, Ames (tie), for identity mark
  • Kate Heiser, Stillwater, Minnesota, for collateral
  • Ann Kennedy, Lakeville, Minnesota, for poster design (also a Judge's Choice Award)
  • Renae Meines, Orange City, for website design
  • Tyler Staton, Urbandale, for interactive media (also a Judge's Choice Award)
  • Jordan Welch, Spirit Lake (tie with Rachael Bair of the University of Northern Iowa), for illustration

Awards were presented June 12 in Des Moines.

Annual recognition
The ADAI exhibition is held annually in Des Moines as a way to recognize outstanding artwork completed by students from colleges and universities in Iowa. Iowa State students regularly submit work and consistently earn top recognition. This year, a panel of three judges from regional design and marketing firms reviewed 88 entries to select the 58 for the show. In addition to ISU, selected work came from students from Des Moines Area Community College, Drake University, Grand View University and the University of Northern Iowa.

The ADAI exhibition "is a chance for students in Iowa to see the best work being created at the university level and to be a part of it. Getting a design into the show is considered an award in itself," said ADAI President Chad Owen, principal of Owen Design in Ankeny. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design from Iowa State in 1997.

"The interactive and web-based design was really great and impressed the judges. Concept and execution of design in entries across all the universities was at a very high level this year," Owen said. "Impressing a judge with good work is one thing; making them jealous that they didn’t create it is a wholly different level. That regard was shared often this year."

Murray hand-lettered the "Bikes and Beatniks" logo and drew the bike-and-rider illustration for the event postcards, poster and other promotional materials.

Hand-crafted design
For his "Bikes and Beatniks" project, Murray developed an identity system to promote a fictional annual café racer motorcycle and poetry event in Nashville, Tennessee.

"A café racer is a lightweight, light-power style of motorcycle. Beatniks, the hipsters of the 1950s, were big proponents of poetry. Many traveled the country on motorcycles, and I wanted to use this culture as a loose and playful inspiration for a modern event," he explained.

Murray researched '50s-era sign painting and beatnik poster design to help define his concept, which led him to create a hand-lettered logo. He drew a stylized motorcycle and rider for the event poster, letterhead and postcard announcements and animated the illustration for the event website.

The class assignment also required a three-dimensional promotional piece. Murray's brother, Andrew, a motorcycle repairman, provided him with a scrapped vintage Honda gas tank to paint with the "Bikes and Beatniks" logo and orange racing stripes.

"Jeremy's work is exceptional in its conception. In addition, he eschews running to the computer to hash out his designs. He spends weeks with the simple tools of tracing paper and markers and sketches out his ideas in great detail," said Curran. "Jeremy's project turned out top notch. I am thrilled his work was recognized by ADAI."

A unanimous vote was required from the judges to determine the individual category winners and Best of Show. Each judge also chose a favorite entry (other than Best of Show) for a Judge's Choice Award. Judges included Clint Runge, managing director at Archrival in Lincoln, Nebraska; Adam Seitz, group creative director at VLM in Kansas City, Missouri; and Peter Zlebek, art director at Lindsay, Stone & Briggs in Madison, Wisconsin.

Murray, who is spending the summer in Southeast Asia, said, "It was a really awesome moment, after having been so disconnected from home, to have some of the first news I heard be such an honor. I was so humbled that 'Bikes and Beatniks' had been chosen Best of Show. I have always had the interest and desire to design, but ISU is full of people who have taught and inspired me to sharpen my skills and create work that I love."

Other Iowa State students whose work was accepted into the show include Megan Anderson, Cedar Rapids; Cristian Chavarria, Marshalltown; Alison Knutson, Libertyville, Illinois; Lu Lawrence, Manchester; Bethany McNeill, Tipton; Kelly Pullen, Shenandoah; Sarah Van Berkum, Spencer; Jieun Youn, Yongin, South Korea; and Alexis Zaborac, Liberty, Missouri.

A PDF catalog of the student and professional work in the 2015 exhibition, including the winners, is available on the ADAI website.

Chad Owen, Art Directors Association of Iowa, (515) 991-6936,
Jeremy Murray, Graphic Design student,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,