Export: Graphic Design in Southeast Texas
In 2016, I received an LU Special Project Grant for $5000 to curate a graphic design exhibition that featured work from local designers in the Beaumont, Orange, and Port Arthur community. The goal was to showcase the great work happening in the region outside the already well documented Houston design community. The featured work included advertising, marketing, freelance, illustration, printmaking, and web design. In addition to the professional display, there was a student competition juried by an esteemed LU alum, Michael Lee. Last, the project included work by my undergraduate research assistant, Amanda Prince. She researched the evolution of the LU brand and displayed her findings in a large timeline infographic display. Community workshops in handlettering and character design were hosted in coordination with this event.
Graphic design in its very essence is an act of exportation. In attempting to deliver clear and effective communication to audiences, graphic designers are sending messages outward to be received by viewers both locally and beyond. In Southeast Texas, residents are quite familiar with the process of exporting due to this region’s vast industries that deliver through all modes of transportation. Graphic design is no different in that it is transmitting ideas across all varieties of media.
This exhibition catalog features designs made in Southeast Texas. The wide variety of work displayed shows how the field of graphic design is evolving and growing through the use of emerging technology, and also shows how the deep traditions of the Golden Triangle region influence visual culture. As we reflect on the “Exports” of our local design community, we can begin to imagine how graphic design will continue to grow and enhance the region.
The work featured in the Export exhibition was published in an exhibition catalog. The first part of the documentation includes a discussion of the LU brand evolution showcasing past images and interviews with Michael Lee, the designer of the original LU Star logo as well as President Kenneth Evans about the brand updates completed in 2014. This discussion allowed viewers more insight into the process of updating a well known local brand. Additionally, each featured designer was interviewed and their work published in the document. Images from the exhibition and student showcase rounded out the publication design. This document was gifted to each participant in the project as a thank you for their dedication to graphic design in Southeast Texas.