View webinar panel presentation videos

View capstone project virtual exhibition


AMES, Iowa — For seniors in Iowa State University’s graphic design program, May 7 should have been a banner date. In each of the past four years, graduating students have celebrated the culmination of their hard work with the Graphic Design Senior Show at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. The annual showcase gives seniors the opportunity to present their capstone projects to friends, family and industry professionals in a grand fashion. With large events canceled to stem the spread of COVID-19, however, this year’s class found a creative way for the show to go on.

During the afternoons of May 5–7, 26 seniors will share their work in a YouTube Live webinar format. Students will present in one-hour time blocks based on the general theme of their projects, similar to panel presentations at a conference. Themes include branding (two sessions); equity, diversity and accessibility; motion graphics; packaging design; social design (two sessions); user interface/user experience (two sessions) and visual narrative/illustration. The webinar runs from 2–5 p.m. Tuesday, May 5; noon–6 p.m. Wednesday, May 6; and noon–5 p.m. Thursday, May 7.

Frontier: On the Edge of Something Great

Morgan Handy of Altoona, Brandon Johnson of Ames, Megan Kiernan of Clive and Steven Klouw of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, led the design team for this year’s show, “Frontier: On the Edge of Something Great.” They worked with graphic design associate professor Alex Braidwood to organize the webinar and develop a website for the show.

“Just having something to look forward to with the webinar is actually giving people more motivation to work on their stuff and have something they are proud of,” said Handy, who will present “Design Diary: Animated Type” as part of the motion graphics panel from 2–3 p.m. May 7.

“In a way, it helps us fill that missing gap of chatting with people about our projects [in person] and explaining our process of how we got there,” Kiernan said. She will present “Women in History” in the visual narrative/illustration session from 2–3 p.m. May 6.

Braidwood, an instructor for one section of the senior capstone class, will act as the webinar moderator-slash-emcee of sorts. He will monitor the comments, questions and discussion to facilitate audience engagement in the presentations.

“This is the students’ chance to still be able to showcase the work they’ve done and still interact with the audience,” Braidwood said.

Virtual exhibition

In addition to the webinar, all 68 seniors’ projects from the three capstone sections will be posted on the website after the livestreamed presentations. The students are optimistic about this new archive, as it means their work will be shared digitally and for a longer period of time.

“I can definitely see them doing this website in the future, even without the pandemic,” Klouw said. “It’s a great benefit for us to have a place to show off our projects to anyone.” He will present his project “The Norm” in the second social design panel from 5–6 p.m. May 6.

“It’s also a way for those who wouldn’t have been able to come to the physical show anyway, like family or others far away, to be able to see what we’re doing in our classes. This will be up for several years, not just one day for three hours and then gone forever. So it’s a great way to share our work,” said Johnson, who will present “Dysoptic” in the equity, diversity and accessibility session from 4–5 p.m. May 6.

The organizers agree that this is uncharted territory, but they feel they are on the edge of something new and exciting — hence the title of the 2020 senior show. According to Braidwood, this change has challenged the students to find creative solutions, which is a big part of being a designer.

“There’s always a chance to start something new,” Klouw said.

Webinar registration

Those interested in attending the free live “Virtual Frontier” webinar are asked to register online. Registrants are invited to participate in as many sessions as they wish but are not required to attend all sessions.


Alex Braidwood, Graphic Design,
Hailey Allen, Design Communications,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications,