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Student designs usher in fall holidays in Willimantic

Published on October 20, 2023

Student designs usher in fall holidays in Willimantic

Devin Slead's Veterans Day design will rotate on Jillson Square's digital billboard this season.

Megan Raimondo's Veterans Day design will rotate on Jillson Square's digital billboard this season.

Fall holidays will get a bright boost in Willimantic with digital billboard images designed by Eastern Connecticut State University graphic design students.

Students in June Bisantz’s Graphic Design 3 class provided two Veterans Day images for the Jillson Square billboard’s digital display loop and are working on designs for Thanksgiving and end-of-year holidays.

The project gives students a chance to work with a real client rather than just designing for a professor’s critique, said Bisantz, emeritus professor of art.

“It’s a great experience for a young artist to understand when they go into the professional world that it’s not purely about aesthetics,” she said. The goal is always to get a message across, she added.

Two students, seniors Megan Raimondo and Devin Slead, had their designs chosen for the Veterans Day billboard. The 13 students in the class submitted their designs to a town-wide vote, and the top two choices were chosen for display on the big screen.

Bisantz, who has lived in Willimantic for 25 years and has been active on town committees, had inquired at town hall about having student art displayed on the billboard, which is located at the corner of Jillson Square across from the Frog Bridge.

“I’m really interested in delivering images to the general public,” she said, citing her own work as an artist who displays in public spaces. “Urban screens are a fantastic way of communicating.”

The student designs will be shown on a loop that also displays civic messages. After Thanksgiving and the holidays, the class will move on to other projects.

In previous years, graphic design students have contributed to other displays in Willimantic, such as projecting images on buildings in 2011 and last year’s “This House Could Talk” project, in which they designed logos for the old Victorians in town, linking to audio descriptions of the history of each house. Students also have designed downtown banners, an installation for the juvenile court building and images for Windham Hospital’s annual fundraising ball.

This year the Graphic Arts 3 class “warmed up” on an in-house project, designing a poster for an art course to be offered in the spring in fashion design illustration. Junior Leslie Chavez’s poster design was chosen in that competition.

“Everything we do in this class is a competition,” said Bisantz, preparing students to work with clients. “I think you learn things when you compete.”

Written by Lucinda Weiss