Learning to Design an Exhibition

It’s not enough to make artwork for an exhibition in Stephanie Reyer’s "Digital Print and Web Design" class. Reyer is asking students to design the exhibition in which their work will hang.

The introductory-level graphic design class has Illustration students learning typography and layout skills which they use to design posters and book covers, then as one of the final projects of the semester students were challenged to create a work inspired the short story “The Squid Hunter.”

“Stephanie told us to read the article, make a piece off it and then come back next week,” said Kaisha Dukes. “After we did that she told us we were going to create an exhibition.”

For three weeks, artists designed a branding suite and layout for the exhibition that will feature their work and their classmates.


  • Students in the Fall 2019 "Digital Print and Web Design" class taught by Stephanie Reyer.
    Students in the Fall 2019 "Digital Print and Web Design" class taught by Stephanie Reyer.
  • Tamia Alston-Ward presents their design proposal.
    Tamia Alston-Ward presents their design proposal.
  • Esai Figueroa Ruiz, winner of the design competition, presents his proposal to his classmates.
    Esai Figueroa Ruiz, winner of the design competition, presents his proposal to his classmates.
  • Stephanie Reyer teaches the Digital Print and Web Design course in the Illustration Department.
    Stephanie Reyer teaches the Digital Print and Web Design course in the Illustration Department.

“They did everything from the brand identity of the exhibition to the layout of the exhibition, including all of the marketing and design,” Reyer said.

The design pitch needed to include designs for labels, a poster describing and introducing the show, and an explanation for the layout of the exhibition. Students then had to present and pitch their design.

Reyer said being able to talk about your work and clearly convey your message is just as important as the work itself. She joked that unfortunately bad illustrators can still succeed if they are good at selling their work.

“We focus all semester good presentations skills and being able to sell your work, making eye contact and really talk about the merits of the project, speaking up in the classroom,” she said. “This is an opportunity for them to really work on it. Even if a student feels they've been struggling in the project this is their time to really let that all go and through the presentation they can come out on top and win the design competition.”

When it came to choosing a winner, students went head to head in “Squid Madness 2018,” with each artist presenting their design and voting on each other’s works.

Esai Figueroa Ruiz came prepared to present his pitch for “Squid.” Armed with a stack of index cards, Figueroa Ruiz walked his classmates through his design choices and lay out for the exhibition. Even though using illustrator and other graphic design tools are new to Figueroa Ruiz, his attention to detail won him top design and he will be designing the student exhibition.

“I didn’t expect to be the winner. I’m proud and happy about learning how to use Illustrator,” Figueroa Ruiz said. “The professionalism Stephanie wants us to have, that's going to help me a lot in the future.”


“Squid” will be on display on the 5th floor of the Hamilton building through January 25th and will feature the work of the students in the Digital Print and Web Design class.