In June 2020, I began working on a commissioned project for Northwestern University admissions. Traditionally, the admissions office sends a foldable poster with a photo of campus to the incoming freshman class. However, due to the pandemic, they wanted to welcome the class of 2024 with a poster designed by an undergraduate peer.
I wanted the design to reflect the liveliness and spirit of Northwestern’s campus. Since there was so much to include, I decided to organize most of the illustrations within a circle shape to give the piece a focus point. I then decided to place Lake Michigan and Chicago along the perimeter, to showcase the interaction students get with the surrounding environment.
I made an initial sketch of the poster in Procreate. One challenge was figuring out what activities/landmarks to include in a limited amount of space. I tried to feature parts of student life that aren’t as frequently represented in the university’s publicity pushes, such as the women’s basketball team and multicultural Greek life.
After deciding on landmark placements, I created a color palette to tie the piece together. The palette incorporates both cool and warm tones, and combines bold and muted colors.
I digitized the sketch in Adobe Illustrator. The process involved lots of tracing, adjusting shapes, and experimentation with color. To emphasize motion, I decided to draw all the people in outlines. I found that this also created some interesting color juxtaposition when combined with the solid shapes of the buildings.