Graphic Design Students Shine

May 09, 2019

Two students take home awards from the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.


Jaclyn Reinbold (left) and Katherine Burgess earned awards at the Pittsburgh chapter of AIGA's Context Student Competition for their work. 


When is a pizza box more than a pizza box? When it’s part of a graphic design project that earns first place in a regional competition. 

Jaclyn Reinbold, a senior graphic design major, recently won the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Award in the organization’s Context Contest. 

Her project was a menu and pizza box design for Piazza Talarico, a family owned restaurant in Pittsburgh. 

Katherine Burgess, also a senior graphic design major, won the AIGA Design Excellence Award for her website page, email and social media campaign to promote PGH365, an annual design competition in Pittsburgh. 

Participation in the AIGA Pittsburgh’s Context Competition — featuring four real-world design projects — was required in Spencer Norman’s Graphic Design Studio 4 class. 

“I have always placed a high value on external competitions,” Norman said. “Our students gain experience of real-world briefs that are different from assignments.” 

“You have to take into account what the client wants,” Reinbold said. “They give you the information in a design brief, and you have to make the proper design decisions.” 

“Spence always says you cannot not communicate,” Burgess added. “It all says something, so you have to be intentional with your design decisions.” 

Earlier in the spring semester, Norman’s students participated in AIGA Pittsburgh’s rapid-fire portfolio review. Students had roughly 20 minutes to present their samples and receive feedback from five graphic design professionals. 

“The portfolio has to speak to you right away,” Norman said. “Often, the first impression an employer has is through an email a link to your work. You may not even be in the room.” 

At the review, Burgess’ portfolio caught the attention of Top Hat, a creative marketing company in Millvale, Pa. Based on her work, Top Hat hired her as a part-time junior designer, and she will begin a full-time position with the company when she graduates in May. 

“It’s very rare for someone to get hired out of one of these reviews,” Norman said. “But the fact they did proves they saw something special in Katherine’s work. It’s a small agency, and the fact they trust a student to be a part of the team before she graduates speaks volumes.” 

“We’re proud of our program. We encourage our students to be passionate about graphic design, because clients can feel that energy.”