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Heller’s Media Graphics Class Creates Billboards for 2020 Election

In what has become a tradition every four years, journalism and electronic media students in Professor Rob Heller’s Media Graphics class (JEM 380) created billboard designs to encourage voter participation in the presidential election. 

Heller’s class partnered with Lamar Advertising, which ran student billboard advertisements prior to the 2016 presidential election. This year, Lamar Advertising cycled through four student designs on an electronic billboard in Memphis. 

The idea for this project began in 2012 when the class worked with the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy to post 12 designs around campus. 

“I’ve given this assignment during the last two presidential elections because I want my students to engage in the value of voting and I want them to use their creative skills to reach a wider public,” Heller said. “Billboards are a unique form of communications. The designer must produce a message which is creative and can be read in a few seconds. I’m proud of what my students have done and I love seeing the excitement on their faces when they look up and see their work on such an enormous medium.”

Students first brainstormed messages and sayings to inspire voters before working on the visual look of their billboard. They used Adobe InDesign to create the project. 

Senior journalism and electronic media major Alyssa Ganus created a design based on her message: “Voting is Vital.” Her design features her text in black and incorporated a jagged red line similar to a medical heartbeat monitor. 

“I finally settled on the idea that I wanted to use a vitals symbol, to represent that voting is what keeps our country and democracy alive,” Ganus said. “The billboard assignment was fun for me personally because it pushed me to think more creatively and come up with something unique and original, while also creating something to inspire people to go vote in our election.”