Cross-disciplinary work is popping up all over the UI campus, and it isn’t initiated only by faculty and administrators. Advertising major Michelle Lenzen, Art & Design major Maurice Branch and Industrial Design major Jonathan Pearce founded Visionary in Summer 2011 in an effort to help their peers learn essential marketing skills that weren’t being covered by their degree programs.
Lenzen explained that Visionary aims to bring Advertising and Art & Design majors together in a skills exchange of sorts; Art & Design students will teach Advertising students how to use Photoshop and other design programs, while the Advertising students will teach branding workshops to the Art & Design students.
Forming Visionary, Lenzen said, was Branch’s idea.
“We had an advertising competition and we had to recruit people from the Art & Design program to be on our team because we didn’t have the design skills we needed,” Lenzen said. “Maurice saw the discontinuity that happens across colleges and wanted to correct it.”
Lenzen explained that she is working with Art & Design Professor and AEL Faculty Fellow Eric Benson to design a UI course that will be cross-listed under Art & Design and Advertising; this class would allow teams of students to rebrand local startup companies – a process with which Visionary’s three founders are already familiar.
“The first team we worked with was 5Degrees,” Lenzen explained. “[Co-founder and CEO] Jeb [Ory] came to us and said his company needed a rebranding – a new name and a whole brand aesthetic. We brainstormed and came up with new ideas, and 5Degrees was the winner.”
5Degrees is a startup in Illinois Launch, a new venture pipeline and incubator program of the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership.
Lenzen noted that the most enjoyable part of being involved with Visionary is working on real projects with real clients.
“It isn’t like a class where you design an advertisement for ketchup and never see it again,” Lenzen said. “This has tangible results…you can see the impact that you have on people.”
The Visionary team is currently in the beginning stages of setting up workshops, and recruiting students to participate. The Visionary RSO will begin meeting in the Spring 2012 semester.