“Shout” is a high school design studio that
challenges students to use their voice in the creative process and develop projects that make their community better. Currently, “Shout”
is organized as a four-day, three-hours-per-day after-school or summer design
studio. Each studio concludes with an exhibition, where students invite
parents, friends and teachers to see their process work and completed
projects. During the studio, students work in teams of four, with one
or two professional design mentors per team. The teams are
assigned projects that are intended to walk them through the creative process as a problem-solving
method, and to help students develop smart communication
All projects are crafted so that each student may draw on their personal
experience and voice to solve a communication problem, which helps demonstrate how design can be used to convey information about personal and social issues
relevant to the students themselves. Topics are provided, to establish a framework. Here are details
about five different projects that we’ve conducted to date:
Poster: Improve your communityQuestion: How
would you like to improve your community? (e.g., clean up parks, start
a community watch, help save school art programs) Outcome: Each student received 25 posters to hang in their communities.
Favorite places in DetroitQuestion: What are
the best people, places and things in Detroit? (e.g., favorite
movie theater, riverfront parks) Outcome: Create
a one-of-a-kind dimensional public marker for a favorite place in the city.
PSA videoQuestion: What community issue or topic would you like to challenge
an audience to take action on? (e.g., school bullying, safe sex)Outcome: Working as a team, create a 30-second PSA video
Adult illiteracy in DetroitQuestion: How do you inform adults that it’s never too late to
learn to read? (e.g., speak to mothers of young kids—don’t let your children
down; speak to high school students—keep them reading) Outcome: Create a large poster about the topic, to be hung in a library or school.
Illuminated letterforms: “ACTIVATE OPEN SPACES”Question: What
activities could be held in Detroit’s 37 square miles of open land in
order to help transform and increase the value of these spaces? (e.g., zip line park, traveling
outdoor movie theater)Outcome: Create an illuminated letter representative of an activity that
would bring value to these open spaces. When combined, the students’ letters spell out “ACTIVATE
The team faced three key challenges in executing the project. The first was balancing the length and timing of the program to meet both the
students’ and volunteers’ schedules. When “Shout” is implemented as an after-school program, it’s very
convenient for students, but it’s difficult for the mentors to get off of work at that time. So far, we have focused on making the program convenient for the students.
The second challenge was giving the project a longer life—one that goes beyond the classroom. We
are working on collaborations with other groups so that we can display completed
projects throughout the community. For example, adult illiteracy posters have been displayed at the Detroit Public Library, and process work for the open
spaces project was on view in the Detroit Works lobby.
The third key challenge is teaching
design in a very limited amount of time. In
the space of four days, we do not want technology to get in the way of
the creative process, so projects are created using illustration or collage. We show a lot of design samples from both local designers and top designers from around
the world, and we discuss how they are successful forms of communication. We also start each day with a
discussion about key design terms like hierarchy, foreground, background and
read path, providing examples of work that illustrate these terms. Finally, there
are many design samples hanging around the studio, and we encourage the
instructors to discuss them with the groups or individuals they are mentoring.
was the first program developed under the Community Impact branch of AIGA
Detroit’s board. The goal was to help support Detroit high school art programs
by giving students additional opportunities to discover how creativity can be
used to communicate, and to help the students develop their art and design skills.
Any Detroit-area high school
student who has something to say can participate. As stated in our
program description, “If you like drawing, design,
art, photography, singing, writing, theater or research, you’re going to enjoy
the challenge of working on design studio projects.”
and counsel from Vernon Lockhart of Project Osmosis and
leaders from local youth art programs, we outlined program goals for fulfilling the Community Impact mission: “to implement tangible examples of how
design can be used to positively impact a community through building awareness,
calling people to action and service to the community.”
The key educational goals of the project include helping students to:
Feedback gathered via student surveys and parent/teacher input informs
us that students are excited about “Shout”—it has become a great extension of their
high school art programs. “Shout” is unique because most high school
graphic design programs focus more on the formal aspects of the discipline, as well as software and technology, and less on design as a problem-solving
The program has a 98 percent retention rate,
with numerous repeat students who continue to be challenged by the projects and
The program costs have been paid for as part of AIGA Detroit’s annual
community impact budget. AIGA Detroit held a pinewood derby fundraiser for “Shout,”
and The College for Creative Studies donates classroom space when school is not in session.
While planning “Shout,”
several of our consultants thought that focusing on the creative process was a
good idea, but they also felt that the program should be pitched in a way that would excite
high school students. So,
while the educational goal was to teach the creative process, the “attract” was
to show students how their personal voice could be integral to a message and how design
can help amplify their voice.
DesignEd K12 is a movement to inspire and sustain design education programs for elementary, middle and high school students—instilling creative
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experiences in creative problem solving.
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