A postage stamp designed like the face of a rat in red stripes with the words Lunar New Year Forever / USA in red on a white background.

Stuckeman School students honored in Real Show 23 art competition

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. —  Three projects by Penn State graphic design students in the College of Arts and Architecture’s Stuckeman School have been selected as winners of the Real Show 2023 competition, an art show hosted by the Art Director’s Club of Metropolitan Washington, presented by the George Mason University School of Art.

Founded in 1975, the Real Show is a national competition focused on allowing college students “the opportunity to solve real-life communication design problems,” according to its website.

Students were challenged to create solutions to real-world design problems under the pressure of real deadlines. Four different challenge briefs were presented in the competition: USPS Postage Stamp, Theatre Project Poster, Huevos Logo and Menu and Times Up Legal Defense Fund Annual Report. Students chose which prompt to address with their submissions and a jury of designers, artists and creators determined Gold, Silver and Award of Excellence winners.

Zhongwei Ren, who graduated with his bachelor of design degree in graphic design on May 6, received a Gold Award, the competition’s highest honor, for his submission to the USPS Postage Stamp prompt, which commemorates the Lunar New Year: The Year of the Rat. Submissions to the prompt had to be adaptable for the rest of the Lunar New Year cycle and could be a combination of illustration, photography and typography.

“I really like the way of thinking that I learned in [studying] graphic design at Penn State,” Ren said. “The difference between a designer and an artist is the responsibility of a designer to use graphics and experiences to discover and solve real-world problems.”

Jane Yun, also a recent graphic design graduate, submitted a project in response to the Postage Stamp prompt and received the Award of Excellence.

Yun said the award provided her with increased confidence as she wrapped up her final projects before graduating.

“It’s important to develop [these types of designs] because real-world problems are something that I want to start tackling in the professional world, too,” Yun said. “This really helped me because it gave me a confidence boost for applying to future jobs.”

Fellow recent alumnae Shelby Stewart and Taylor Kuszyk, who worked together on their project, received an Award of Excellence for their submission to the Huevos Logo and Menu prompt, which challenged students to express the brand attributes that would help the restaurant look approachable, flexible, fun and surprising.

Further details about an exhibition featuring the award-winning projects are to come, according to George Mason University School of Art.

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