Louise Bunker’s seventh-grade class listened anxiously Wednesday as two executives from Cactus Flowers critiqued the advertisements the students created in class.
The Cocopah Middle School students had reason to be anxious: Whichever ad the executives liked best would end up as a real advertisement in a local newspaper.
Bunker, the Scottsdale middle school’s technical education and career exploration teacher, said she’s been wanting to do a project like this for about two years.
The lesson not only taught her students a practical use for art and technology, it also let business owners share their expertise with the class, Bunker said.
“This is a real-world client,” she said.
The project started with students learning basic design principles and how to use computer design programs from Steve Farley, a graphic designer and public artist from Tucson.
Farley spent eight days in the classroom working with the students through Scottsdale Unified School District’s artist-in-residence program.
“They really have put themselves into this,” Farley said. “They’re incredibly resilient.”
The project started with graphic designers and ad designers speaking with the students earlier this month about how to put together an advertisement and what type of questions to ask a client.
Each of Bunker’s five classes had its own client, all locally owned businesses. The students interviewed their clients, asking them about their businesses and what kinds of type fonts, colors and brand standards they’d like to see in the ads.
Eric Luoma, vice president of Cactus Flowers, said he was impressed with how quickly the students grasped the Photoshop computer program and the designs they originated.
“This is by far the largest creative agency, and shortest creative agency, we’ve worked with,” Luoma said.
The students seemed to enjoy the project, too. Twelve-yearold Drake Ripley said the project made him think about designing ads in the future.
“You got to unleash your creative side,” he said.
All of the companies will use the students’ products somehow — as fliers in shopping bags, a design for a Web site or posted around businesses.