In the spring of 2018, TransLink collaborated with Emily Carr University illustration instructor, Justin Novak, as well as co-instructors Amory Abbott and Daniel Drennan El Awar, for a project involving the students of ILUS 401: Illustration Professional Applications.
Centring on transit etiquette, the campaign updated old imagery with a fresh perspective and playful illustrations. The students were asked to come up with a fun way to educate, not patronize TransLink customers around etiquette. From the class of students participating, six ECU students had their work chosen and integrated into the 2018 campaign.
Marketing Representative Jennifer Froese, who took the lead on the project from TransLink’s end, shared her thoughts with us on working with the students, the project as a whole, and the difficult choice of narrowing down the selected students. “We met with Justin in November of 2017 to conceptualize the project. I am always super keen to work with students, so when this opportunity came across my desk, I jumped at it!” said Jennifer. “It allowed us to refresh a campaign that hadn’t been touched since 2013, and forced us to carve out time to get something good to the public. It was the perfect opportunity.”
A project like this one gives students an experience that mirrors life after graduation. “They were assigned a transit pet peeve instead of getting to choose their own – just like an art director would assign you at an agency,” explained Jennifer. “It was very reflective of real world assignments.” Justin shared that the students were mostly eager to engage in the project. “Naturally, the six who had their artwork selected for the campaign were the most enthusiastic!” he stated.
Planner Debra Rolfe, who handles all the art on transit with TransLink, said that this one was of the most prepared and professional projects she has worked on. Jennifer echoed that sentiment. “The students were a perfect choice. Aside from approaching the work with a fresh perspective, the U-Pass program makes a lot of students customers, so they’ve experienced these pet peeves first hand,” she shared, “they really approached the project from a place of universal understanding.”
It was important to create messaging that could communicate without words for accessibility, and many students also approached the illustrations without using gender or race for an added level of diversity. All of the illustrations were of such high caliber; the jury had a difficult time choosing the final works for the campaign. “The jury was made up of different areas of the company such as Coast Mountain Bus Company, SkyTrain, West Coast Express, Transit Police, Customer Information and TransLink with front of line staff included in the decision making,” explained Jennifer. “Everyone had a strong favourite and really made a case for it. They fought for their favourites while at the same time recognizing why another would be equally as great. It was evident that the students really brought their a-game.”
TransLink went in to the project with a very loose concept of continuity, stating that the third of the images that would be copy would unite the images as belonging to the same family. “Justin was really clear from the onset that not everyone taking the course would be an illustration major, so students would be approaching this from very different angles,” shared Jennifer. “There was such a variety – from digital fruit to fantasy based to very painterly illustrations. We told the students not to take themselves too seriously and the result is great. My personal favourite are the geese.”
The campaign was installed during the last week of August and officially launched in September. Translink also profiled the work of these students in their publication, The Buzzer. The works will be on transit for a minimum of one year and up to three. Catch it on your next commute!