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Christmas in July! RMCAD students try their hand at design wrapping paper

Christmas in July! RMCAD students try their hand at designing wrapping paper

The holidays are just around the corner! Okay, maybe not for a while, but that isn’t stopping students in RMCAD’s Illustrative Design program from getting in early on the festivities. In a new project in the Fundamentals of Illustrative Design course, students are now designing unique gift wraps that they can use for holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions. 

Fundamentals of Illustrative Design professor Jay Hollick, who is also the chair of the Illustrative Design Program, introduced this unique project to the program in the Summer A Term of 2023. Hollick said that the gift wrap project is perfect for teaching patterns, repetition, and position. “Students have to apply these design principles together to create something visually interesting,” said Hollick. The traditional bright colors, simple iconography, and cheery attitude of wrapping paper also make it one of the most playful mediums for students to experiment with. However, some of Hollick’s students have found that the medium can also unwrap new styles, by repackaging these same techniques.

Mary Fontana is one of the first students to go through the new project. Fontana, who is a sophomore in the Illustrative Design Program, was drawn in by the idea of subverting the traditional style of wrapping paper. She said, “I wanted to do a darker cyber-punky aesthetic and combine some Eastern influences.” Her unique designs feature Kitsune, a fox from Japanese folklore, and a darker color palette than you’d expect to see wrapped around your birthday present. Fontana created her striking pattern by utilizing Hollick’s techniques, but not without adding her own twist. “I took each component and placed them in a way that there was some asymmetry because I found that symmetrical patterns just weren’t as interesting,” said Fontana.

The ribbon on top of the Fundamentals of Illustrative Design course is how it encourages students to consider entrepreneurship in their art. Students’ wrapping paper designs are turned into mock-ups for various products from journals to business cards. Proving that those principles of pattern, repetition, and position are truly universal. Hollick said his primary goal is to teach “students how to present their content to a client. They have to show how research is reflected in their ideation process so that they know how to build their portfolio in a way that is marketable for them.”

Wrapping up, this outside-of-the-box project is giving students a better look at design principles and being an artist for hire. By mastering the basics, Illustrative Design students are getting a real look at art beyond academia. Mary Fontana said the greatest gift this course has given her was the preparation to “go out into the workforce and know the expectations, not only for design but also for how to establish a good working relationship with a client.” For more stories on Illustrative Design, please read Illustrative Design Student Shares His Experience as a RMCAD Senior.

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