Each year, world-renowned publishing company Graphis Inc. recognizes the work of up-and-coming design students during their New Talent Annual. This year, they received 1160 submissions from around the world and chose to recognize 22 of the 25 projects sent in by BYU.
Design major Todd McAllister was the only student from BYU — and one of just 21 students total — to walk away with the annual’s highest honor: the Platinum Award.
“I was pretty surprised when I found out that I had won the award,” said McAllister. “It’s nice to get some validation after working hard on a project like that. There are a lot of great designers that submit to Graphis each year, so it was a significant personal achievement to win an award against such tough competition.”
The designs that won McAllister the award were for Dwell Magazine. McAllister was tasked with re-designing the magazine’s current cover in a way that was aesthetically pleasing but still on-brand. McAllister’s approach to the project was centered on his love for clean, uncluttered design.
“I seem to be drawn to simple, minimalistic design because it leaves me with a sense of awe or piques my interest somehow,” said McAllister. “The design direction was inspired by wanting to achieve that same feeling in a magazine cover.”
McAllister said he isn’t sure exactly what set his designs apart from the rest of the competition, though his guess is that it was how well the designs paired photos and text.
“In my opinion, a lot of beautiful cover photographs are ruined with really busy headlines and other text elements,” said McAllister. “I think that trying to reduce that as much as possible so the photos can speak for themselves might have set my designs apart from the rest.”
While McAllister’s designs may have been simple, the creative process that led to the finished pieces was not. He repeatedly designed covers and critiqued them until he settled on three final designs. McAllister said his favorite part of working on the project was figuring out the title part of the design.
“I had been through tons of iterations that didn’t seem to feel right, but something about the lowercase masthead placed vertically along the side of the cover seemed to click, and then things sort of fell into place from there,” said McAllister.
His experience working on the designs and winning the award impacted McAllister in a lasting way.
“I definitely think this experience will have a positive impact on my future career,” he said. “If nothing else, it has helped me feel a bit more confident in my abilities, which is pretty vital to creativity.”
After graduation, McAllister doesn’t imagine his future as a concrete, five-year-plan type of journey.
“My future career goals basically involve waking up everyday excited to work on whatever project I have,” said McAllister. “I guess I don’t really have a specific position or place I want to be in, I just want to be excited about the work that I’m doing while pushing the boundaries of what I’m able to do.”
For now, McAllister and the other students who were honored by Graphis Inc. are waiting for their work to be published in the hardcover version of the New Talent Annual, which comes out May 1, 2019.