Clint Samples beamed when he walked into his “Digital Media for Artists” course just after spring break. The classroom was packed with students. Some chatted; others were already working on their projects.
Samples came with good news. But a few already knew: three of their classmates were among the five finalists in the 2011 AJC Peachtree Road Race T-shirt Design Contest.
Alyssa Chitwood, Jessica Ferguson and Barbie Klimaszewski sat quietly as the students whooped, clapped and cheered their approval.
“I’m proud of you guys,” Samples said. “This is great. It’s a big achievement.”
Big achievement indeed: this is the third straight year Samples’ students have placed in the contest.
In 2010, four of Samples’ students were among the five finalists. The winner was Allison Bennett, who is now a senior. Two of Samples students were finalists in 2009.
Twenty of the students in the class submitted 30 designs for this year’s contest.
“It makes us all look good. It makes you as a student look good. It makes this class look good,” Samples said.
“It makes West Georgia look good. It makes the department look good. It says a lot about you guys.”
Samples, who describes his teaching style as “friendly yet firm,” uses the Peachtree assignment to give the students a taste of the real world.
“They have to compete with professionals in the Atlanta area,” Samples said.
The design contest is the first assignment he gives and he uses it to teach his students how to use Adobe Illustrator.
He also wants them to understand the creative process. “One of the things I really try to stress is process and understanding – that students can’t just settle for the first idea that they come up with,” he said.
The students critiqued each other’s work. Several revisions and final touches followed.
There were 122 entries in the contest this year, said Tracy Lott, the director of marketing and communications for the Atlanta Track Club, the organizer of the Independence Day race.
The race is a premier event and a July 4th tradition in Atlanta. The winning designer receives $1,000. The victor will be unveiled the day of the race, when some 60,000 t-shirts will bear the design, Lott said. Another 2,500 to 3,000 t-shirts will be given out at the overseas editions of the Peachtree in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, where most of the runners are U.S. military personnel.
The other finalists are: Matt Ankerich, 33, a graphic designer from Atlanta; and Adam Houston, 35, a graphic designer and marketing consultant from Cumming.
The Peachtree Road Race draws the most entrants among running events of any distance in the United States and is among the most prestigious events in the sport.
Members of the public have until April 30th to vote for their favorite designs.
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