A graduating senior, Julie Hansen (B.F.A., Graphic Design, 2018), competed in last month’s Creative Jam competition, winning the graphic design judge’s first place and people’s choice second place awards. The competition was hosted in the Flagg Building by Adobe.
After hearing about the opportunity through a Corcoran student email blast, Julie decided to participate. She said, “I know people who do hackathons and timed design competitions and stuff like that and I’ve always respected them for it, since it’s usually not my thing, so I figured why not—be the person you aspire to be, right?”
The theme of the competition was “Change Begins With Me.” Participants were timed, and then presented their work to the judges and audience members. Julie said it was not until around forty-five minutes were left that she decided her final idea.
“We were only given three hours to do work, so I started it by buying junk food from the vending machine,” said Julie. “I went through a bunch of iterations—anyone who knows me knows this about me as a designer.”
Julie said as a first time participant she felt stressed at the beginning of the competition.
“Honestly? At first, I was panicking, like, why am I here? I had been in Corcoran working on my senior thesis for almost ten hours by the time the event actually started,” she said. “Basically, I told myself, I’m not going to win, and just did something that amused me.”
But as she continued to work through her ideas, she came to her final idea.
Her final product hailed from a personal experience prior to the competition. “I had taken the picture after stepping on a pair of bananas that I had literally left on my bathroom floor for days,” she said. “I felt compelled to take the photo when it happened the week earlier because not only was it a strangely beautiful image, what with the yellow against the black and white towels, but it also was this humorous embodiment of the kind of mess I had let my life become.”
Julie paired the banana image with a fashion magazine “because the beauty industry loves to sell us the idea that we need to change.” She said, “here I was at this event, extremely self-conscious of how I looked and what I mess I was, but because of that I leaned into it, and let it inspire my design.”
She said the final product was representatives of both sides of her humor -- “the starkly personal one about my own shortcomings, and the more societally-centered commentary of what the magazine industry loves to sell us.”
“It was this self-deprecating humor, the embarrassing irony of the situation that led me to lean into that feeling of needing to change who I am, to clean up my act, and also how the beauty and magazine industry telling people that they need to change who people look.”
“I was also extremely proud of myself. It was really fulfilling because this project and my presentation were 100% me, and I felt like that is what helped me win and what paid off in the end,” Julie said of the experience.
Story by Robert Dickson, SMPA '20. Julie Hansen Portrait by Eric Dietrich. Photos of the Creative Jam competition by Denny Henry.