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Opening career pathways for talented urban youth

At Fashion Design Workshop Students Find Inspiration in “Anything and Everything”

December 03 2014

As part of Youth Design Academy, fist-year Youth Designers enjoyed a terrific workshop led by MassArt Fashion Design student Christian Restrepo, whose dramatic, award-winning designs have been showcased at the ICA, in Boston Magazine, and many other venues and publications.

“The designs Christian showed us were very interesting and different," said Youth Designer Tara Rahman, a junior at Boston International High School, "I learned that you can be inspired by anything and everything.”

Christian’s work challenged Youth Designers to think about fashion as visual story-telling and “wearable art” that needs to be daring, dramatic, and original to complete in today’s high-fashion marketplace. Jessica Villar, a Youth Designer from Brighton High School, echoed Tara’s sentiment. “I learned that anything can be a great idea,” she said, “like when Christian used the bottom of a frying pan in his dress design!”

Yes, Christian did, in fact, incorporate an image of a frying pan into the design of a gorgeous gown! After breakfast one morning he noticed the interesting combination of colors and textures left in the frying pan, so he photographed the pan, printed the photograph on fabric, and designed the rest of the dress to harmonize with it.

“What I loved about the workshop is that we got to do our own designs,” said Janet Diaz, another Youth Designer from Brighton High. Indeed, each student designed a “collection” of  three looks on a common theme, learning steps in the design process—defining the brief, creating a mood board, sharing their ideas and sketches for feedback, exploring a range of tools and materials, and finally presenting their work in critique format for discussion. “The project we did was helpful because we got to learn about the process and the work it takes to just make one design,” said Tara.

Although time was short, the students took up the challenge to mine their own interests outside the world of fashion as inspiration for their clothing designs. Janet's clothing designs, for example, were inspired by the colors and textures of the beach in her native Puerto Rico. 

“The Fashion Design workshop was a great way to get students to stop and think about what they see every day,” says Alisa Aronson, Youth Design Education Specialist and MassArt Assistant Professor of Design. “Moving from uncritically following trends to creating expressions of their own uniqueness is an important step in their growth," she adds. "Being resourceful, imaginative, and using the design process to create their own looks is empowering.”

The chance to learn more about the world of fashion is of strong interest to today’s teens. Youth Design provides a variety of opportunities for students to explore fashion design process, learn about fashion careers, and express themselves through this medium while building transferrable skills.

The Fashion Design workshop was a memorable experience for the Youth Designers' first summer. Thanks to Christian Restrepo for teaching this workshop and to MassArt Fashion Design faculty Sondra Grace and Meg Young for working with Alisa to plan and coordinate it.

YD + TROY Boston: Playing a Role in the Topping Off!

December 03 2014

Being a part of the Youth Design/Troy Team was a great opportunity. I have never painted a beam (actually ever) that would be a part of a new development and actually see it get placed into the building! I felt like an iron worker, with my hard hat on and my brush in my hand. I had a creative experience with my YD designers and mentors getting to express my take on “movement in my city” Boston. I created a visual using the (MBTA) logo.
I think I can safely say that we all had a great time and felt productive that day, being able to be included at a top-off ceremony. Period. Although I am from Dorchester, I can’t wait to see when TROY Boston opens.

Elizabeth Resnick’s MassArt Workshop Engages Youth Designers with the Power of the Word

December 03 2014

We are honored that Elizabeth Resnick, Professor of Graphic Design at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, brought her reknown expertise as a design educator to Youth Design this summer, leading a workshop for students that engaged and challenged them in many different ways. Professor Resnick, an internationally-recognized design educator, author, and curator has been a dedicated advocate for Youth Design since its founding. The workshops she leads for our students always provide an eye-opening and transformative educational experience.

Professor Resnick began her workshop on "Three Expressive Modes of Visual Language: Practical, Poetical, Persuasive" with a presentation in her most notable area of expertise—social issues poster design. Her presentation introduced students to the many ways designers use visual language—text, image, color, and graphics—to convey a strong message about important social issues.

The assignment that followed—based on a design project required of all MassArt graphic design majors—challenged Youth Designers to create three small posters that showed how the same word can express three different meanings—practical, poetical, and persuasive—when it is paired with a different image.

The "practical" use of graphic design is to communicate information with a single meaning, characteristic of clarity for direct information. A design's "poetic" quality communicates emotionally with its audience through use of visual metaphor and symbolic imagery. Graphic designers use the "persuasive" mode when they shape visual communications to send a message from a specific point of view.

After Professor Resnick’s presentation, the students were divided into small groups. Each group was given a word: culture, diversity, consume, or community. With the assistance of Professor Resnick and Dan Vlahos, a graphic designer who also teaches at MassArt, the groups quickly brainstormed ideas about what images they might use to convey their word. Students were then brought to a classroom filled with computers in which they worked in their groups to create and print out their three posters. It was a fast-moving morning with each team working furiously to complete three designs that worked well as a group but also each conveyed a different message, within a tight time-frame!

After each team presented their work, Liz and Dan talked together to determine a winning set of poster designs. Students on the winning team each recieved a stunning large poster designed by internationally-known poster designer Luba Lukova. 

We are grateful to Professor Rensnick for her many years of dedication to Youth Design!


Liz Resnick served on the Board of Directors of the AIGA Boston chapter (1989–2007) where she has organized numerous graphic design lectures and events. She is a member of the AIGA Boston Advisory Board, 2008-present.

Curated Exhibitions: Russell Mills: Within/Without (1991) with Teresa Flavin; Dutch Graphic Design: 1918-1945 (1994) with Alston W. Purvis; Makoto Saito: Art of the Poster (1999) with Jan Kubasiewicz; The Graphic Imperative: International Posters for Peace, Social Justice and The Environment 1965–2005 (2005) with Chaz Maviyane-Davies and Frank Baseman, and Graphic Intervention:25 Years of International AIDS Awareness Posters 1985-2010 (2010) with Javier Cortés.

Publications Design for Communication: Conceptual Graphic Design Basics for John Wiley & Sons Publishers (2003) and Graphic Design: A Problem-Solving Approach to Visual Communication for Prentice-Hall Publications (1984). Liz also writes short critical commentaries and event reviews, and has published interviews with prominent designers and design educators in EYE (England), AIGA Journal of Graphic Design (USA), Graphics International (England), tipoGrafica (Argentina) and IDEA (Japan).

Awards: Type Directors’ Club, Print Magazine Annual, AIGA Fellows Award, AIGA Boston 2007.

Youth Design Academy

December 03 2014

The new Youth Design Academy got off to a great start with 2 events in June that provided an amazing introduction to our program for 12 brand new Youth Designers!

Youth Design Academy activities so far have included:
• Professional workplace training by Roselys Esteve and Rose Delorme
of the Private Industry Council;

• Converse creative professionals Eli Irving, graphic designer, and Mickey Ruiz, photographer/studio manager, inspired the students with a great presentation of their work and discussion about their career paths;

• collaborative map-making that helped students understand how Boston is configured with a goal of providing context and connection for their homes, schools, and key locations they will visit this summer;

• teams of new and experienced Youth Designers worked together to analyze existing designs using key design vocabularly, and presented their analyses to the larger group.

Our new Youth Designers are a very diverse cohort from 8 Boston public schools plus Chelsea High. The students were selected after submitting applications, answers to essay questions, and art/design work samples; additionally each student interviewed with a group of 3-4 professional designers.

Youth Design Academy provides selected students with an intensive summer of art and design skill-building and design career exposure. The core of the summer program is a course in Design Fundamentals at MassArt, for which the students receive college credits, developed and taught by Youth Design Education Specialist and MassArt Assistant Professor of Design Alisa Aronson. Additionally students will attend field trips to design workplaces including Ideo and Digitas, attend exhibition tours at the MFA and the ICA, and participate in a range of activities that connect them with like-minded peers, college students, design professionals, and design educators, broadening their exposure to numerous facets of art and design with a focus on developing critical thinking and other college-readiness skills.
The June events were a great start to the summer; looking forward to many further adventures!

Written by Alisa Aronson
Youth Design Education Specialist, Youth Design Academy Instructor
Assistant Professor of Design, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Celebrating our 2014 Youth Design High School Graduates

December 03 2014

Here at Youth Design we want to congratulate all of our Youth Designers who have graduated High School this month. We are proud of them and wish them nothing but the best in this journey to come. Below you will find our Youth Designers who have graduated high school and the schools they will be attending in the fall. This is a major accomplishment and we are proud of you all!

Youth Designers not pictured above

Aaron Clancy
Graduated: Boston Arts Academy
Attending: Bunker Hill

Stanley Rodriguez
Graduated: Boston Arts Academy
Attending: Fashion Institute of Technology

Emily Navarro
Graduated: Boston Arts Academy
Attending: Lesley University

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