Art students' messages compete for PLCB billboard display
In the outdoor advertising business, billboard creators have seven seconds to get their point across.
If there are too many words or images, passing motorists won't get it and the opportunity to influence them will be lost.
Art students at Elizabeth Forward High School vying to have their designs grace an anti-drinking billboard this prom season had the opportunity Friday to get some expert advice from professionals in the industry.
Lamar Advertising sent three of its team members to the school to counsel eight students whose designs have been chosen as finalists in a contest sponsored by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
The four winning designs will be featured on Lamar billboards in the area during late April and May. Sessions with each student lasted about 15 minutes.
“I'm impressed,” said Lamar account executive Lou Cipriani, who visited the school two years ago when it last held the contest. On that earlier visit, Cipriani noted the students' designs were a lot busier and thus violated the seven-second rule. This year, he said, the artists came with simplified imagery and scaled-back language.
“I can tell the difference,” he said.
A design featuring the Internet sensation Grumpy Cat submitted by junior J.T. DeMarco was one that sparked a lot of discussion during the consulting sessions.
“The kids are all about this,” said technology education teacher Megan Smith, who noted that she and art teacher Malvene Harris weren't familiar with Grumpy Cat until after J.T. turned in the design.
“That means we're getting old,” added Harris.
Lamar graphic designer Phylicia Mendenhall told J.T. if his poster connects with students, it's a good thing.
“It made me laugh,” said Mendenhall. “If you can get a reaction out of somebody on a billboard, you've done a good job.”
But Lamar creative director Jeremy Boston cautioned using the popular character could present copyright problems. He said it's good to take a conservative approach when it comes to using material that might be protected property.
The instructors advised J.T. to contact the creators of the character and ask permission to use it.
“I would do that ASAP,” said Harris.
It was a morning of constructive criticism.
Junior Anthony Mooney submitted a design that was a cautionary acrostic of the word “prom.”
“I just figured I'd keep it simple,” Anthony said.
The advisors asked him to simplify it even more.
Stemming from the “M,” Anthony's design said, “Make sure you have fun.” After some discussion, Anthony said he would shorten that to “Make memories,” to create a less-cluttered design.
Junior Sam Boden was advised to move the text on a poster he created of a silhouetted man taking a drink from a wine bottle.
The Lamar consultants also suggested senior Lauren Dull ditch the image she had of a brain in a beer stein on her poster.
Smith noted that in the early stages of design, “We got a lot that said, ‘Don't drink and drive.' I said (the message has to be) ‘Don't drink at all.'”
The distinction between drinking and drinking and driving is one that the PLCB will be looking for, too, noted director of student services Glenn Schell. Schell, who helped coordinate the grant-funded contest, said the state agency will give final approval to the winning entries.
The $12,000 PLCB grant pays for the cost of the four billboards and funds an online alcohol awareness program in which all students participate. The winners of the billboard contest each will receive an iPad while the four runners-up will win gift cards.
Students have until April 2 to turn in their final drafts.
The location of the signs has not yet been determined but spots along Route 48, Route 51 and Lebanon Church Road are being considered. The objective is to have the signs seen by the local community and also by students on their way to the prom, which is at Marriott City Center in Pittsburgh on May 18.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McKeesport’s Lake Emilie ready for trout season
- South Allegheny High School uses laser tool to enlighten students
- S. Allegheny close to tentative support personnel agreement
- Port Vue officials brief Cub Scouts on cleanup project
- U.S. Steel’s Irvin Plant in West Mifflin to lay off 165 workers
- Lawmakers address education issues
- Officials pledge to monitor Munhall outreach ministry transition facility
- Smartphone app may help parking meter enforcement resume in Munhall
- Business owners see pros, cons to Lincoln Way widening in White Oak