News Release

Graphic design student gives new look to 'The Pick'

Contact: Christina Chapple


Michelle Russo, Gary Keown, Carrie Casto, Brett Blanchard

Caption …

“PICKING” THE WINNER – Southeastern Louisiana University graphic design student Brett Blanchard of Baton Rouge was selected as the winning designer in a competition recently sponsored by “The Pick,” Southeastern’s journal of student writing published by the English Department and the Southeastern Writing Center. The publication’s editorial board selected Blanchard’s design from among those submitted by students in graphic design professor Gary Keown’s digital print design class. From left, are Writing Center Assistant Director Michelle Russo, Keown, “The Pick” Editor Carrie Casto, and Blanchard.

     HAMMOND – “The Pick,” one of Southeastern Louisiana University’s oldest publications, will have a new look this semester, thanks to a collaboration between the university’s English and graphic design programs.

     Founded in 1939 and published continually except for a three-year period in the 1980s, “The Pick” is a journal of the best student writing from all areas of the university curricula.

     The journal is published by the English Department and the Southeastern Writing Center.

     To take the venerable publication to a new level, English professor Jayetta Slawson, director of the writing center, and “The Pick” Editor Carrie Casto, a graduate student from Denham Springs, were able to secure funds to make the publication larger, add color, and to offer prize money to students in a range of categories, including design.

     At the suggestion of Interim Department Head David Hanson, they contacted Department of Visual Arts’ graphic design professor Gary Keown about tapping the talents of his students to redesign the publication.

     Keown incorporated the request into the curricula of his digital print design course (Art 261). The class’s 21 students were assigned to design over a two-week period a cover, table of content page, editor’s note page, and a story layout.

     And their reward, they were told, would be more than just the satisfaction of a good grade. The student designer selected by “The Pick’s” editorial board would also receive a $300 prize and would be expected to work with the staff to incorporate the design throughout the approximately 100-page publication.

     “Gary's students were very receptive to our ideas,” Casto said. “When Dr. Slawson and I presented the students with our ideas for a design they asked several thoughtful, insightful design questions.”

     Casto and her editorial board members Michelle Russo and Danielle Faucheux ultimately selected Brett Blanchard, a sophomore art major from Baton Rouge, as the winning designer. They chose his design, which employs a grid of black boxes, “because it is clean and professional, yet fun,” Casto said.

     “It was challenging for us to select just one template,” Casto said. “Each student put a great deal of time and effort into their creation. We spent hours looking at every detail of each design.”

     “I worked on my high school yearbook (at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge) for four years,” said Blanchard. “This assignment was right up my alley. It was something I like to do, I get money, and it’s really nice to have this for my portfolio.”

     Although he planned to give up his spring break to work with Casto on the layout, “It’s all worth it,” Blanchard added.

     This is not the first time Keown’s students have been challenged to create designs and Keown said he welcomes the “interdisciplinary dialogue” it creates with his colleagues across campus. His graphic design students previously have created a holiday card for the university president, a poster for a local fireworks company, and logos for entities such as the university’s annual arts festival Fanfare, KSLU radio station, and the Recreational Sports and Wellness Department. 

     Casto said the design is not the only new element being added to “The Pick.” “This semester we're including a full-color insert of student art work, we've begun a video contest, and are awarding prizes in various categories,” she said. “My editorial board and I also began meeting with students who submitted written works to discuss possible revisions to their pieces prior to publication.”

     “It has been a pleasure to work with Brett, Gary, and his class,” Casto said. “The creative imaginations of the students, the sheer beauty and ingenuity they showed, has assured me that this project should be repeated in the future. I am proud to be the editor of ‘The Pick’ and pleased that I was part of this new project.”

     “This is the beginning of what we hope is many collaborations with other departments,” Slawson said. She said “The Pick” will be distributed free at the Southeastern Writing Center, located in D Vickers Hall, room 383. 

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