International student envisions healthier world for I-Week

Art and design student creates winning poster concept for International Week 2014.


(Edmonton) It’s no small feat to design an image that will represent a high-profile university event attended by thousands of people, but that’s exactly what international student Melody Du did to win the International Week 2014 poster competition.

Du, a fourth-year art and design student from China, produced a sweeping design involving water and a colourful world map that has become the visual identity for International Week 2014: Creating Solutions for a Healthier World.

“Clear, clean water is something that felt very healthy to me,” said Du, explaining how the theme of International Week inspired her to create a stream of H2O cascading over a water-coloured world map, washing away negative words such as pollution, war and violence. “I thought that the way to use this water as part of a solution would be if the water could ‘wash’ away some of the things that make our world unhealthy.”

International Week 2014 features more than 60 free events that address global issues and challenges such as climate change, conflict, poverty and disease. Through lectures, panel discussions, films, exhibits and dance lessons, audiences learn about innovative research, projects and communities that are contributing to a hopeful future and a healthier world.

I-Week is hosted by University of Alberta International’s Global Education program, but events involve participation from across campus and the greater Edmonton community. All events are open to the public.

Each year, the Global Education team works with students from the Department of Art and Design to develop a visual identity and poster for I-Week. Students are asked to take the theme and turn it into an image people will remember. The winning poster design is then incorporated into a suite of marketing materials, including a program guide, banners and advertisements.

This year Du’s Design 593 class, under the instruction of Kevin Zak, submitted a variety of strong entries for review. Along the way, students helped each other identify which elements were crucial to the design.

“We did a lot of brainstorming to help each other get started on our designs,” said Du. “After my design had been selected, Mr. Zak and my class provided me with some great feedback that helped me to refine my poster. Their support was really nice.”

Having a creative eye is nothing new to Du. She originally studied Chinese art and ink painting in her home town of Lanzhou, but she and her father dreamt of her one day going abroad to study.

She came to Edmonton, studied English, built up her design portfolio and generated the grades and portfolio required for admission to the fiercely competitive art and design program. Not only is Du living her dream, she is excelling at it.

Du is glad she was able to participate in the I-Week poster competition because it gave her a real-world experience to expand her portfolio.

“Because it is my last year of study, it is very useful to get practical experience working with a client,” she said. “I admit, it is also nice to see my work displayed around campus.”

Exposure to activities like the poster contest is one of the reasons Du is happy with her decision to attend the U of A. She encourages other international students to take advantage of opportunities to build up their professional experience. “The competition and other events like it are good starting points.”

The next step for Du will be finding a job in the design field. She plans on eventually going to graduate school and dreams of opening her own design business focused on photography and working with illustrations.

Nancy Hannemann, director of the Global Education program, says the poster competition is a great way to showcase students’ extraordinary talent and provide a hands-on learning experience.

“I-Week is one of the largest events hosted at the U of A, and one of our priorities is finding a poster design that really captures the spirit of the week,” said Hannemann. “Melody’s design struck us as being very visually appealing and it strongly captured our theme. We are really happy with the design and we’re excited to feature her talent.”

Banners, advertisements and posters based on Du’s design are featured around campus and Edmonton until the end of I-Week. The full roster of poster concepts created by the Design 593 students are also on display in HUB Mall until the end of I-Week.