Students design plans to 're-brand' Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — Two Addison County students are finalists in a statewide graphic design competition that aims to increase tourism and prosperity in the town of Middlebury.

The competition is being sponsored by the Vermont branch of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), a professional association for design with a declared mission of advancing designing as a “professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force.” Founded in 1914, AIGA remains the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design, and is a nonprofit educational institution.

EJ Bartlett, marketing director for the Better Middlebury Partnership, is also a member of the board of directors of the AIGA’s Vermont chapter. She explained AIGA, in concert with Champlain College, annually seeks to involve students in a  competition related to graphic design. The board decided to base this year’s competition on helping a community boost tourism, increase annual visits, lengths of visitors’ stays and general awareness of its offerings.

Middlebury emerged as the top choice for the competition.

“(The board) settled on Middlebury partly because of my connection here, but also because it is a small town and people associate it with Middlebury College,” said Bartlett, a graphic designer in her own right.

In order to stimulate local participation, the AIGA board opened the competition up this year to students at the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center, which offers a design and illustration course with teacher Lisa Rader. The competition historically has been directed at college students.

Among those entering were Career Center students Cody Mannigan and Anna Rumbough, both seniors with an interest in graphic design. The students’ entries were among 20 that made the AIGA’s cut of finalists for best submissions. All 20 finalists will see their work exhibited at a special AIGA gathering and reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3, at 47 Maple St. in Burlington.

The Student Design Challenge is sponsored by Adobe, Champlain College, Communication Arts and Jager Di Paola Kemp Design.

Rumbough’s submission features a new Middlebury logo for each of the four seasons.

“The goal was to make Middlebury look like a year-round destination,” the 17-year-old Cornwall resident said.

Her plan includes a “Smart Phone” application that features GPS and alerts on special local events.

Rumbough completed her project in two weeks and is pleased with the opportunity to showcase her talents to a statewide audience.

“I am interested in possibly becoming a graphic designer,” she said.

Mannigan also focused on a redesign of Middlebury’s current logo, which prominently features the local Congregational Church. He created several interchangeable logos that highlight the town as a hub for artwork (paintbrush), recreation (bicycle), food (wine bottle) and music (a musical note).

“Most of it was modernizing the logo, bringing it into the 21st century,” said Mannigan, also 17.

The Middlebury resident is also considering a career in graphic design or media advertising.

A jury will award the top submissions from the exhibition an Adobe Creative Suite software package and an Apple iPad. Four runners-up will receive Communication Arts subscriptions. Judging the competition will be Steve Cook, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing; Rick Machanic, principal from Tag New Media; Chris Thompson, curator of BCA; and Bartlett.

Bartlett said the students’ submissions could influence the way Middlebury decides to market itself in the future.

“I think the projects will be taken into consideration,” Bartlett said. “I think it will also stimulate small towns to think of what their brand is.”

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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Addison County Independent

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