University of Southern Mississippi Department of Art and Design students Christopher A. Franklin Jr., Gabrielle H. Graham, and Harley Perdue were accepted to compete in the 14th annual National Student Show and Conference (NSSC) in Dallas, Texas. Other students from the department also attended the conference to view submitted artwork and support their classmates.
The NSSC, hosted by the Dallas Society of Visual Communications, is the largest student show and conference in the country. This three-day conference is packed with unique opportunities to help students enhance their design education and prepare themselves for the professional world. More than 1,500 pieces of work from some of the top design programs throughout the nation were submitted to this year’s competition.
Perdue, a senior graphic design major from Laurel, Miss., submitted a promotional campaign for a summer festival to the Design category.
“This is a renowned show for college graphic design students, so it’s pretty remarkable to have my work accepted,” said Perdue. “My project, a music festival campaign called ‘Beach Daze,’ included posters, brochures, and a logo. It’s an indie music festival, so the visual identity was modern-vintage, which depicts my style. I was aiming to create a visual language that combined both—a summery feel and fun vibes.”
Graham, a junior graphic design major from Ocean Springs, Miss., submitted 12 work samples to the Portfolio category.
“It makes me feel good to know that my work was accepted to compete in a student show of such caliber – I’m super psyched. It is also exciting to know that other professional designers will be there looking through my work, which could potentially lead to getting hired,” said Graham. “My favorite piece is the campaign I did to promote the campus guest artist visit of illustrator, designer, and author, Tad Carpenter.”
Franklin, a senior graphic design major from Foxworth, Miss., submitted a 45-second short film to the Advertising category.
“Actually getting into the competition was shocking, and winning at the show would be a perfect way to cap off my senior year,” Franklin said. His film, titled “Time,” is a campaign that aims to raise suicide awareness. He approached the sensitive topic through a cinematic approach and a slow build. There’s a crescendo in the music that creates anxiety and then quickly falls silent when the film begins, capturing the audience’s attention.
“The opening is a ticking clock, but the second hand isn’t moving. This represents a stalemate—it’s saying that he doesn’t have enough time,” Franklin said in describing his film. “It’s a glimpse into the mental state that people don’t often see. Basically, it’s asking if there is enough time to reach those who are in danger of suicide and feeling depressed.
“This topic has always resonated with me, having witnessed testimonies of survivors. I felt that making the short film would be the perfect way to start a dialogue and raise awareness, and if it wins, I’ll reach my ultimate goal which is to have the film seen at a national level.”
Although the students were excited to have been accepted into the conference, they enjoyed taking part in the life-altering experience—getting inspired by keynote speakers, learning new skills from breakout sessions, improving their work through portfolio reviews, observing the work of other students, and visiting workspaces and studios.
For more information about the Graphic Design program at Southern Miss, visit usm.edu/visual-arts/graphic-design.