Design Studio student Ashley Feeney came up with the concept of face-painted models for the Amnesty International conference

DENVER – Deadline pressure stokes creativity. That’s the case in the Design Studio II class, which produced in short order a stunning assortment of artwork for Amnesty International’s conference in Denver this weekend.

In December, Amnesty International asked Brian DeLevie, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Media’s Digital Design program, if University of Colorado Denver students would be interested in creating designs for the annual meeting in late March. DeLevie then asked Assistant Professor Bryan Leister if his studio class would be interested.

“My Design Studio II class is perfect, because we study branding,” Leister said. “But they needed everything done within the first three weeks of class.”

The students were given the sizable task of tying Amnesty’s mission of “rising up for human rights” to the flavor of Denver. The organization had already consulted with a few local professional design firms, but weren’t satisfied with the concepts, which leaned toward Denver’s oft-used mountains as key design elements.

Just as the conference’s goal is to get volunteers excited and invigorated about their work, the organization found similar idealistic energy bursting from the students’ work. Each student produced three concepts for conference posters, web banners and outdoor displays — as well as collateral materials such as coffee mugs, T-shirts and buttons — all done in the first week of class.

Ashley Feeney’s concept of models with “Rise Up” face paint was selected as the winning campaign concept by Amnesty. Talena Hayward’s poster was chosen as a likely T-shirt design, while Aimee Zawacki handled makeup and Donald Ungerman coordinated the professional photo shoot.

At the shoot, the students went from “zero to 60 and did really professional work,” Leister said. “That gave them a lot of confidence.”

Most of the models in the “Rise Up” face-paint photo shoot are students in the Design Studio II class. “One of the things (Amnesty) wanted was to show diversity,” Leister said, “and it was really nice that we have a very diverse student group to pick from.”

He said Amnesty International, which was recently re-branded by a renowned London-based design firm, “was thrilled” by the CU Denver students’ work. “The students are getting a lot of exposure and visibility, and they’re learning to work with a client,” Leister added. With Amnesty’s recent re-branding “they got to see how all of that works — how the brand functions from a national and international level to a local and conference level.”

The students’ efforts won’t end with Amnesty International’s March 30-April 1 conference at the Denver City Center Marriott. Denver Public Library will display the students’ design concepts in an upcoming exhibition.

Design concepts, videos and other work on the project can be viewed here:

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