Graphic Design Students Compete in Regional Design Contest

Three Mountwest Graphic Design students spent up to 12 hours participating in an intensive regional design competition that took place over Sept. 24, 25 and 26.

The Third Annual “Design It Forward Kentucky” competition ( was open to college and university students in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Tennessee. Twenty-five teams from 10 different educational institutions participated in the challenge, which was hosted virtually this year by Eastern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University.


Freshmen Emily Adkins of Delbarton (Mingo County) and Jordan Craft of Gallipolis Ferry (Mason County) formed a two-person team, and second-year student Ashley Keplar of Huntington (Cabell County) competed as a one-person team to represent Mountwest.

Julie Terry, MCTC Associate Professor of Graphic Design, said she was excited to have two teams from Mountwest compete in the DIF competition for the first time. “We had no idea what to expect, but Emily, Jordan and Ashley stepped up to take on this challenge and do their best,” she said. “It was actually an advantage that the competition was offered virtually this year, so we didn’t have to deal with travel arrangements. It was a simple matter of attending the Zoom sessions and making good use of their time while at home.”

Terry said she was impressed that Emily and Jordan, who have never met each other in person and live over two hours apart on opposite sides of West Virginia, were able to collaborate effectively as a team. She was also pleased that Ashley undertook and completed the entire campaign by herself as a team of one.

The “Design It Forward” (DIF) contest pits design students against each other and against the clock as they develop materials that can be used by a nonprofit organization.

This year’s directive was to develop a set of non-partisan materials to promote the importance of voting. Teams had to create a name and brand for their campaign, a logo and visual treatment guide, two poster designs, at least two social media posts and at least two yard signs. There were optional materials if time allowed. The teams also were required to create a presentation to show to the judges.

Students met via Zoom on Thursday evening, Sept. 24, to receive their instructions. They had all day Friday, Sept. 25, until 6 p.m., to create their materials and upload their assets. Although the teams were provided optional “mentoring sessions” at different times on Friday to receive input and feedback from a group of volunteer design professionals, they had to do the research, brainstorming and create the pieces all by themselves.

On Saturday, Sept. 26, the teams were scheduled to each give a five-minute presentation to the judges. Winners were announced at an awards ceremony later that afternoon.

The Mountwest teams didn’t win the contest, but they earned internship hours that are a required part of their degree program, and they all had a good experience, Terry said. “The event was very well organized, and it was fun to be part of a creative community all working for a good cause. However, the four of us were surprised by the amount of materials that were expected in such a short amount of time. I was delighted when both teams emailed Friday evening to let me know they had completed and uploaded their campaigns by the deadline.”

The Mountwest Graphic Design program is part of the Mountwest Career & Technical Division, with the primary focus of training students to have visual communication and computer skills for the workplace. Mountwest Community & Technical College is located at One Mountwest Way, Huntington, W.Va.

By Julie Terry, Associate Professor of Graphic Design

Mountwest Community & Technical College

Information Technology

Graphic Design A.A.S.

The Graphic Design program emphasizes skill and mindset development through the study of graphic design history, the principles and elements of design, effective use of typography, illustrative techniques, logo and identity design, advertising layouts, design research, data visualization, multimedia and entrepreneurship.

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