York/Sheridan design students win big in competition

Members of the 2009 graduating class of the York University/Sheridan College Joint Program in Design (YSDN) have embarked on the path toward changing the face of the Canadian design landscape with a raft of awards recognizing the groundbreaking nature of their work.

Right: Jennifer Thai’s Sprouted Brown Rice design

This summer, YSDN students walked away with more than 25 prizes and even more honourable mentions in four competitions: the Adobe Design Achievement Awards, the Applied Arts Student Awards, the Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) National Scholarship Awards and the Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) Ontario Student Member Awards.

“Congratulations to the award-winners and the graduating class of 2009. Their creative vision and hard work have once again placed our program at the top rank of design schools in Canada,” said Wojtek Janczak, chair of the Department of Design in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts. “These students have demonstrated an impressive creative breakthrough in experimenting with the fine line that separates self-expressive graphic forms from the communication goals of design. I am so proud to see that this creative culture is continuing among YSDN students, and look forward to its revolutionary evolution in the years to come.”

Left: Jessica Li’s Book of Genesis

With submissions from more than 35 countries, the Adobe Design Achievement Awards are one of the most competitive international design contests open to students. This year, four YSDN students placed as semifinalists. Justin Hsieh received a nod in the non-browser-based design category. Jennifer Thai, Mimi Lam and Pantea Ghahramanpour received recognition in the packaging category for projects they developed in the package design course taught by contract faculty member Albert Ng. Ghahramanpour recently received the news she received an honourable mention.

In the past two years, Ng’s students have won a total of 19 awards at the national and international level. Ng himself received the Graphis New Talent Annual 2009 Gold Award for Excellent Student Work in recognition of his achievements as a teacher.

Right: Pantea Ghahramanpour’s design Bonbon Condoms

“Effort plays a significant role in achievement,” said Ng. “I commend each of these award winners for their creativity, dedication and hard work. They truly deserve these prestigious awards and should be proud of their accomplishments.”

Twelve YSDN students and 16 of their projects were recognized in the annual student awards competition sponsored by Applied Arts magazine. The winning designs will be published in the September issue and will be posted simultaneously on the publication’s Web site. The magazine will also organize a public display of the work in Toronto in November.

The lion’s share of the Applied Arts recognition came within the editorial design category with Jessica Atkinson and Emerald Lee each winning two awards and Suzanne Macaulay and Winnie Ma with one apiece.

Michael Dibblee and Felix Lau were both double award winners in the online animation category. Adobe semi-finalists Ghahramanpour and Thai received more praise for their packaging designs, and Rafael Ruiz and Jessica Li were recognized for their corporate and collateral designs. Marcelo Hong was singled out for photography as was Chris Vitas for Web design.

Left: Winnie Ma’s Pulp Fiction

Notably, Ruiz and Vitas submitted projects related to Wonderlust, their class graduation show (see YFile, May 11).

For the fifth consecutive year, YSDN students dominated the GDC National Scholarship Awards, winning the top two of four available scholarships. Thai added the $2,500 Veer Scholarship to her bulging trophy case, and Edeline Bernal received the Adobe Scholarship valued at $2,000.

Currently finishing up a student exchange in Sydney, Australia, Thai was elated when she found out about the scholarship.

“YSDN has allowed me the chance to work alongside some of the most talented students and accomplished professors of the country,” Thai said. “Being in an environment where the passion for design is so visibly strong naturally motivates all of us to produce work at the best of our abilities.”

YSDN also virtually swept the RGD Ontario Student Member Awards for the seventh consecutive year. Of the four distinctions given for excellence across media (which consider a student’s work in more than one category), Applied Arts winner Ma won both awards for which YSDN students were eligible – the McMillan National Award and the Taxi Award of Excellence for Central Ontario. Spencer Xiong received an honourable mention in the Central Ontario category.

Of the 14 awards of excellence in specific media, YSDN students took home 10 awards and 18 honorable mentions – more than double the total number garnered by students from other schools.

Right: Winnie Ma’s The Circles of Round

The YSDN winners in the RGD Ontario competition were: Xiong (Applied Arts Award for Editorial Design, q30 Award for Logo Design and Harlequin Award for Book Design); Jessica Li (Adobe Award for Print Design); Sarah Yoon (Koskie Minsky Award for Print Design); Fiona McDougall (Crescent Award for Interactive Design and CundariSFP Award for Typography); Annmarie Akong (Honey Design Award for Non-Profit Communications and Adobe Award for Web Design); and Applied Arts double winner Lau (CTV Creative Agency Award for Motion Graphics Design).

Shortly before Lau received the good news about his CTV-sponsored RGD award, he was hired by CTV as a junior motion designer. His current projects centre around the Vancouver Olympic Games and will be unveiled in the 2010 Games broadcasts.

The RGD Ontario honourable mentions include Brianna Petz (twice), Winnie Ma (twice), Maryam Mahdawiyan, Michael Dibblee, Edward Guinasao (twice), Sarah Yoon, Matt Seccafien (twice), Fatima Menjivar (twice in the same category), Billy Chan, Adrienne Lenardon, Chelsea Leathley and Chris Vitas.

Once again the biggest winner in the RGD Ontario and GDC competitions, the YSDN program remains the leader in graphic design education in Ontario and continues to set the bar for the high standard of design education in the province and the country.