The art and craft of graphic design
Alice Premeau ’22, the winner of Chapman University’s annual state poster contest, shares her creative process, her love of purple, and how the past informs the future.
Each year, Chapman University President Daniele Struppa announces a poster contest to students in the Advanced Graphic Design course at Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, with the winning design submitted to the state of the university; this year’s theme was research. “The theme was very open to interpretation and offered great creative freedom,” explains Premeau. “I started to conceptualize my idea based on what I believe to be the nature of research. I started to think of it as something rooted in the past, but continually building into the future.
“I’ve been known to add the color purple to many of my designs, so when I started creating drafts in more monochromatic colors, [my professor] noticed the lack of color. Eventually I chose to add blue and purple, creating what looks like space. This is also closely related to the future and technology. Describing his creative process, Premeau says, “I started by hand-drawing the separate pieces on my iPad, which allowed me to play around with the overall look and style.”
“Alice’s drawing really captured my imagination the moment I saw it,” said President Struppa when the poster contest winner was unveiled during the 2022 State of the University Address. The centerpiece of Premeau’s design is Da Vinci’s “Vetruvian man”, but with a twist: the figure is also a woman. It’s also inspired by Michale Angelo’s “Creation of Adam” fresco on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, but instead of a divine hand touching a human, it’s a robot arm touching a human’s. human: the present literally ignites the future. The atom and the double helix invoke scientific progress, and the use of Arabic mathematical equations aims to decenter Western history and include other cultures. “In the poster, the High Renaissance meets modern design elements,” explains Premeau.
This is not Premeau’s first victory. She also recently won the Chapman Diversity and Inclusion Poster Contest. “Our department head, Eric Chimenti, believes in an environment of friendly competition – it encourages us to produce our best work,” says Premeau.
“Ever since I was a kid and saw the Broadway posters created by design firm SpotCo, I’ve wanted to be a designer,” says Premeau, whose future goal is to design movie posters. “It’s the dream,” she said. Premeau gained hands-on experience as a student-worker at Chapman’s Ideation Lab, a fully functional design firm run by Moulton Hall, Chapman’s art building. “When I started working at the Ideation Lab as a freshman, I knew little about design tools and programs, but Professor Chimenti insisted that I apply – then I learned everything on the job,” she said.
“In graphic design, everything is integrated,” says Chimenti, assistant professor of art at Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. “You can’t just be a web designer, you can’t just be good at using the tools of the trade. You have to learn to come up with ideas. This is what I recognize in Alice: she has always drawn well, but she also has good ideas.