Artistic ‘N’spiration: the UN graphic designer collaborates with the Sesquicentennial project


Rebecca legge, BFA ’17, knew exactly how she wanted to decorate her ‘N.’ By the time she grabbed the thin wooden letter from under the Tundra tent on a blustery summer day, she had been thinking about the design and materials she needed to make her vision a reality. During this employee decorating party to celebrate the start of Ohio Northern University’s 150th anniversary celebration, the “N” in Legge quickly began to stand out from the crowd. The paint and plywood were transformed into a colorful image reminiscent of his racing days at Ohio Northern University.

Organizers of the UN’s 150th celebration are asking others to get creative by posting photos of their own ‘N’ art on social media, using the hashtag #LoyalForeverToDearONU. The images will be curated by the College of Arts and Sciences and displayed on campus. For inspiration, Legge’s ‘N’ story illustrates how college days can be translated into mediums with nostalgic meaning.

As a senior graphic and digital designer for the Office of Communications and Marketing, Legge’s artistic skills are put into practice every day. In fact, along with Nancy Burnett, Director of Creative and Design Services, she developed the lively and engaging branding material for the University’s 150th anniversary. From large building banners to eye-catching selfie walls around campus, the talents of Legge and Burnett blending avant-garde and traditional designs are on full display.

For Legge’s personal design project ‘N’, the downsizing again resulted in an impressive product.

The backstory: As a high school track and field athlete, Legge wanted to continue competing in college somewhere close enough to her home to be visited once in a while, but far enough away to have her own adventures. She found what she wanted at the UN.

“I was an athlete growing up,” says Legge, and running came naturally. While playing T-ball, she “just wanted to keep running the basics. I’ve always moved at a fast pace, ”she says. Hurdling caught her attention and soon she honed her sprinting and jumping techniques. Running in college while concentrating on school and working part-time required careful and concerted time management, lest one or all three responsibilities fall apart. With running, she says, it could ease the stress on the track. She has also found the support crucial from her teammates, some of whom have become lifelong friends.

Academically, Legge had initially been interested in becoming a teacher. But an elective course in visual communication and photography taken in the last year of high school changed her mind.

“I was fascinated” by the act of artistically relaying information and telling a story, she says. “I’m a perfectionist and have found that I can make things even more perfect” with visual design elements and software.

When Project ‘N’ came up, the race track immediately came to my mind, says Legge. “I have vivid memories of the track time trials. It is not a sprint event, but a distance event. Trials always take place in the evening under the stadium lights before the start of the season. Sprinters like Legge attend practice to support those who compete.

During one of those competitions, Legge says she remembers how clear the evening sky was. “The stars were beautiful,” she says. “Everyone was running on the track. The windmills were behind them. I supported them. It was always a lot of fun.

Another reason Legge took a special note of the sky that night: An engineering cornerstone project she was involved in provided additional perspective. The project had focused on light pollution, a problem caused by electric lighting that negatively impacts nature and obscures its beauty. The flagship project in which Legge was involved focused on finding solutions and “how to tell the story of light pollution and the challenge of getting people to care about protecting the night sky”.

Years later, Legge remains inspired enough by her racing and learning experiences that her “N” art reflects that. Rather than representing herself, her “N” shows another long-distance runner silhouetted against a sunset and the windmills just west of campus near the stadium.

No artistry, however, is required to create an “N” that reflects individual UN experiences in an interesting and indelible way. Here are Legge’s tips for developing and executing ideas:

• Work with the dimensions that suit you. Consider a 2D or 3D project that suits your style, whether it’s painting an “N” in wood or creating a three-dimensional room from different mediums.

• Don’t think about it too much. Consider which memories rise to the top and use them as inspiration.

• Memories don’t even have to be specific to be inspirational. Perhaps a sound or a smell evokes a strong feeling. Stick to that for a moment and think about ways to bring it to life.

• Enjoy!

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