Graphic design student earns honorable mentions in national design competitions

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Third-year graphic design student Taylor Kuszyk has earned national recognition for her work, collecting two honorable mentions in the 2021 University and College Designers Association (UCDA) Design Awards and another in Graphex 52, the 52nd annual Regional Design Award Exhibition sponsored by the Art Directors Club of Tulsa.

Her “Black Swan” book cover and vinyl cover for a Taylor Swift album earned the UCDA honors in the student classroom work category.

“[The book cover] represents the main ballerina’s internal conflict between the black and white swan. This cover shows the pure white swan’s metamorphosis into the twisted, encroaching black swan that consumes her whole,” Kuszyk said.

She completed the book cover in her “Design Foundation 2” course with Emily Burns, assistant professor of graphic design, during the spring of 2020 as a first-year student.

For the vinyl cover design, which was for Burns’s “Experimental Type in Package Design” course in fall 2020, Kuszyk incorporates her interpretation of Taylor Swift’s songs and the emotions that the songs convey.

“I loved playing around with a kaleidoscope pattern that included typography from stamps, color and shapes (from paper) to represent the multidimensionality of Taylor Swift’s songs,” she said. “I used these elements to convey all of the colorful emotions and lyrics one can feel when they are listening to this collection of songs.”

Kuszyk’s designed a Beach Boys concert poster for Burns’s “Brand Systems with Analog Tools” course in fall 2020 as part of a larger brand identity system with multiple deliverables. For her efforts, Kuszyk earned an honorable mention in the print category of the Graphex 52 awards. She used moon sand to create lettering and was able to create the entire piece using 3D imagery.

“I wanted to mold sand and create a set to capture the persona and energy a Beach Boys concert would exude. This taught me that I do not need to solely rely on digital designs to create something successful,” Kuszyk said.

According to Kuszyk, her work reflects creativity and thought, and incorporates a variety of imagery and patterns.

“I am very honored to have received these awards because I feel that they reflect all of the hard work I put into them. I feel that each project pushed me in a different way to become a stronger designer,” Kuszyk said. “I am very proud to be a part of the Penn State graphic design program. It is an amazing program and a perfect fit for me.”

The UCDA Design Awards honor the best work in educational design — print, digital, illustration, photography and student competitions — over the past year. The awards are selected by a handful of designers, photographers and illustrators.

The Art Directors Club Tulsa is a nonprofit organization that inspires creativity in advertising and art communities. Each year, the organization hosts the Graphex Awards, a creative awards competition that honors the work of students and professionals.

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