Students Create Designs for Michigan-Made Product

College of Communication Arts and Sciences

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Advertising students are receiving real-world experience designing graphics for a product being manufactured and sold by a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company.


GET Longboards has partnered with the College of Communication Arts and Sciences to use student designs on its longboards, which are longer versions of skateboards. Many of those designs, created by Assistant Professor Paula Storrer’s Advanced Creative: Media I (ADV 326) class, now appear on the longboards being sold by the company.


“I enjoyed designing for GET Longboards. It put my creativity to the test and I was able to create something I was extremely proud of,” said Catherine Kanka, a senior creative advertising major. “I’d like to thank GET Longboards for this opportunity; it is a great addition to my portfolio.”


Owned and operated by the Finses family – Greg and Kim Finses and their two sons, Tyler and Evan, both mechanical engineering majors at MSU – GET Longboards was established in 2009 in an effort to build a better longboard. The idea to use student designs came when Tyler Finses saw the graphics created by MSU advertising students for Burton Snowboards in celebration of the 2014 Winter Olympics.


“I thought it would be a cool idea to use the talents of the Advertising department and give students real-world experience by having them work on a project they could use on their resumes and that could really set them and Michigan State apart,” said Tyler Finses.

Last March, he emailed Storrer about having her students work on graphics for his family’s business.


“Tyler was very excited about this new business, but what they realized they couldn’t do was make designs,” Storrer said. “The snowboard was a wonderful connector for us to show him that we could do good stuff.”


Tyler Finses came to Storrer’s ADV 326 classes last spring and summer to talk to students about his company, to show them their longboards, and to tell them what he needed and wanted and any guidelines they had, just like a client.


“The students were so excited to find out they were going to design graphics that would actually be used on longboards,” Storrer said. “They worked to build designs that were inspired by the longboard titles. They did all the graphics; they took all the photographs; they made them and cut them out so they could be displayed.”


In the end, each student completed two longboard designs.


“It was very exciting to have all the students show each other their stuff. They got to see several different ways to solve one problem, so it really allowed them to draw from a bigger base,” Storrer said. “They also got a good feel for how to deal with what a client might need; what the limitations are versus just thinking of something they might want to make.


“This was definitely project based and client desired, which is good experience no matter what, and it looks great in their portfolio because it shows they’ve got real-world experience. The students were all thrilled to pieces to do this as are we to see their good work.”


GET Longboards has placed information about the student designers on their website to give them added exposure.


“The students made these cool graphics for us and we wanted to make sure it was a two-way street,” Greg Finses said. “They are able to add this to their portfolios to show their graphics on real boards being sold. We also put their bios on our website to show who they are, what they’re about and their graphics to get them more exposure and to prove it’s a real-world situation.”


So far, students have created designs for the company’s Outlaw and Road Rider series.


“We ended up getting a lot of really bright, vibrant graphics, which is very cool,” Tyler Finses said. “This definitely gives (our company) a lot more exposure. All of the graphics that have been created by the Advertising department are totally different than any other graphic out there on a skateboard, longboard, even a snowboard.”


Both the Department of Advertising + Public Relations and GET Longboards hope to see this partnership continue.


“We are looking forward to continuing this partnership. MSU has been great to work with and the students have been great,” Greg Finses said. “They take a theme and just run with it. MSU is a big part of GET Longboard’s success.”

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