24-Hour Design Challenge: Midtown Atlanta

Savannah College of Art and Design Generate Challenge

I barely knew what I was signing up for when my department—the Graduate Studies in Advertising Design at Savannah College of Art and Design—announced a 24-hour design marathon challenge. I think maybe the prize money (a whopping $2500) blinded me to the key part there: 24 hours. Nonetheless I teamed up with a partner, Sam, and showed up bright and early on Friday morning.

Our challenge was for Midtown Alliance, a non-profit organization based here in Atlanta, GA. According to their website, they are” a non-profit membership organization and a coalition of leading business and community leaders – united in our commitment to Midtown as a premiere destination for commerce, culture, education and living.” We had to take their branding and the spirit of their mission and create a banner series according to two themes: Holidays and/or Innovation. Each series had to have four banners, and you could choose to do either or both. Not many people did both—but Sam and I were undaunted.

The Process: In Twenty-Four Hours

We scooped up some (ok, a ton) of the free snacks provided to us and snagged a spot in one of the Mac labs.  We’d already decided to do both sets of posters, but wanted to start with Innovation. First came sketches, ideas, and an endless brainstorm. Our new favorite tool is the Visual Thesaurus, which let us plug words in and see how they related to others. Sam and I are both copywriters, which means thinking visually isn’t our first method. What did we come up with?

Once we had our list of words, we moved onto how those would play out visually. Midtown has such an interesting skyline that we definitely wanted to incorporate the iconic buildings in some way. We settled on creating the buildings out of symbols and icons that represented all of the cool art and technology happening right now. (For those who don’t know, Atlanta is an emerging hub for start-ups, new technologies, and a thriving art scene.) Midtown Alliance is really at the heart of all of that bustle, and we thought that capturing that spirit would really appeal to them.

At around 1:20 a.m. we wrapped the final banner for that series, and turned our bleary eyes to the task of making something Holiday-related. In the creative briefing Friday morning, reps from Midtown Alliance had specified they wanted something fun and not religious for the banners. Frustrated and at a creative dead-end, Sam and I decided to go in search of more chocolate. On our the way, we passed the Graphic Design department working on their challenge—and an image on a screen caught our eye. It was a beautifully wrought man who looked as though he had been folded from paper. We toyed with putting our own spin on that same concept, and came up with folder origami figures for the Holidays-themed set.

We finished the second set at about 4:50 a.m., with the help of much chocolate and a late night roast beef sandwich. We headed home for a few hours of sleep, then came back at 10 to submit our finals! Special thanks to Epson, who supplied the printer for the challenge and made our prints come out looking fantastic!

An exhausting day, but definitely worth it! Stay tuned for the update on whether we won—and for a photoset of the finished designs!

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