Art seniors explore print-on-demand

Glory Reitz—Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Glory Reitz

On a Thursday afternoon in the Campus Center gallery, nine art seniors arranged a display of canvas bags, stickers, pillows, pins, and a variety of other household items. That evening, they hosted a reception to introduce their exhibit: “Developing Design.” The show features their processes of learning the nuances of print-on-demand and will be open until Nov. 5.

Most of the students, all enrolled in David Platter’s art Senior Seminar, had never worked with print-on-demand services before. This project, a class assignment, required them to sort through their finished art pieces, choose a few, then pick what to print it on.

“The biggest thing is trying to figure out what pieces to use on this, and what options would look the best,” said Acacia Phillips, one of the artists.

Phillips knew she wanted to use a clock as one of her pieces from the beginning. The challenge of the assignment arose when trying to find a piece of past artwork that would fit the object. Eventually, she settled on a marble design from a set piece she’d painted for the university’s theatre production of Northanger Abbey in 2019.

In contrast to the soft marble swirls of green and blue, Phillips’ wall hanging is full of bold neon stripes on a black background. The piece came from the background of a poster she designed.

Anneka Bakker, a classmate of Phillips, used a logo of the word “rest,” inspired by a chapel sermon. She printed the swirling blue lettering onto a mug, a bag, and a notebook. Bakker said she envisioned the piece as a quiet companion in moments of everyday life.

Bakker said the senior seminar has brought camaraderie to the classmates, and she’s enjoyed seeing how far they’ve all come since freshman year. This particular project has shown them how to transform their work into a new, high-quality format.

“We were given the assignment,” Bakker said, “to take old work that we had already made in our previous years here at Dordt, work from our portfolio and… give it a new breath of life by interpreting that art through a new medium.”

The gallery exhibit opened on a Thursday night, just before Defender Days took over the campus. A variety of Dordt students and family filled the gallery to see the art and support the artists.

Photo Credit: Glory Reitz

Annika Rynders, a sophomore saxophone performance major, said her favorite part of the exhibit was seeing the diversity of the art. She said the new forms of expression bring the art to life.

“I appreciate how some of the pieces are interactive,” Rynders said. “I think it’s inviting us to engage with the art, rather than just look at a photo.”

Dalton Moore, one of the artists, is an architecture and art history double major. Print-on-demand is far from his normal medium, but his leanings shine through. One of Moore’s pieces is a set of coasters, printed with a circuit board design, what he called an homage to his usual, “logistical” style. The other two are travel photos, taken in his travels to see architecture.

“They’re two very different regions,” Moore said, “so it was just sort of personal memories that happened to play in very nicely.”

Not everything fell together neatly. Moore said his coasters were the last piece to arrive – a week before the exhibit opened. Phillips’ clock arrived with a bubbled backing. She peeled it up and glued it back down flat, but the nerve-wracking moments helped teach the students to work with real-life problems.

David Platter, Assistant Professor of Art, and the senior seminar instructor, said that kind of experience is what he hopes for in the class. He had the students compare the quality of their products to find out which service provided the most professional product and would be most useful in the future.

“The world has become open, even in terms of what a student can produce.” Platter said. “And so, tapping into that, giving that agency to students to make something really of a professional level quality [is a goal].”

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