Student Success Story, Liz Kennedy
May 05, 2015
Good design often looks inevitable, as if it fell from the creator’s mind fully formed.
With its summery yellow background and floating sunglasses, Liz Kennedy’s poster for the 36th annual Tri-C JazzFest has that feel of easy brilliance, but it’s all an illusion. “The final is actually version 15,” the designer said.
Kennedy, a 2015 graduate of Tri-C, earned an Associate of Applied Business degree with a concentration in graphic design. As part of a spring semester visual communications course, she and about a dozen classmates each completed JazzFest poster designs for consideration. Festival organizers chose hers for the way it conveyed the feeling of the season.
“In addition to being associated with summer activities, shades have long been a part of the image of cool jazz musicians,” said Terri Pontremoli, JazzFest director. “Liz’s poster is great fun for those reasons.”
Her process included a look at previous years’ poster designs, which led to one early decision.
“I didn’t want the instrument to be the main focus,” Kennedy said. “I did a little research online and I watched [jazz] videos. I noticed that everybody wore sunglasses. Outside, inside, it was night, it was day — it didn’t matter. It seemed to be the thing that everybody did.”
Then came the real work.
“It started out with just one big pair and a lot more color and movement happening in the background,” she said. Eventually, the focus became the glasses themselves, with instruments reflected in the lenses. “I’m really happy with the way it turned out,” she said.
Kennedy is also happy to be following her heart. A 2003 graduate of Cleveland’s John Marshall High School, she spent a year at Ohio State University racking up debt in pursuit of an accounting degree. “I was bored out of my mind,” she said. “That’s when I decided to stop wasting time and spending money.”
She left school, found a job at a law firm and paid off her bills. Three years ago, she started at Tri-C with a better plan for her education.
“I’ve always been creative,” she said. “Graphic design is something I should have done right out of high school, but I didn’t have the guts and motivation.”
Her classes in visual communications and design honed her skills and introduced her to career avenues she hadn’t considered. She discovered she loves packaging design, for instance, and enjoyed a project that involved developing brand identity for a line of barbeque sauces.
With school completed, Kennedy looks forward to building a new life with her fiancé. (They’re considering a spring 2016 wedding.) And at this point, she said, “my plan is to find a position in the field doing something creative. I don’t have a specific company in mind. But doing something creative is what I need in my life.”