Lawton Printing Addresses Industry Recruitment Shortage Through Scholarships
Education has been a theme of family-owned Lawton Printing Services, of Spokane, Wash., for as far back as President Laura Lawton can remember. So establishing an annual student design scholarship just seemed like the next logical move.
"We thought it would be a great way to really connect with the schools here in our area and get students involved in print," says Lawton, who was honored last year as a 2016 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductee.
According to Lawton, the company partners with different professors at three different schools — Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC), Eastern Washington University (EWU) and North Idaho College (NIC). The post-secondary schools all offer a graphic design program and degree.
"We have partnered with the professors at those schools to come up with a project that they then can either assign to their classes as part of the curriculum, or inform students that it's an optional opportunity. It depends on the year and how it fits into their curriculums," she explains.
Just completing its fourth year, financial support for the Lawton Design Scholarship has come from Lawton Printing Services, the PPIA (Pacific Printing Industries Association) Educational Trust, Caty Colberg and Brian Jones. Mohawk was the paper sponsor again this year, generously providing the paper used to print the student pieces.
Lawton Printing created a microsite where students could register, view the scholarship content rules and criteria, and upload their designs. The entries were then reviewed by a panel of local and regional industry, design and marketing professionals.
The judges for the fourth annual student design scholarship included Jules Van Sant, executive director of PPIA; Michell Kaminksi, marketing coordinator at DAA Northwest; and CK Anderson, founding principal and creative director at helveticka.
According to Lawton, the students get a lot of one-on-one time with the judges to be able to talk through the design process, and the judges also provide valuable feedback about all of the students’ designs.
A record number of 65 students submitted designs for this year’s contest and, due to the outstanding designs, a record number of six scholarships were awarded. A $500 scholarship was awarded for first place. The total given away this year was $1,350.
Each student was tasked to design a poster-sized, folded piece to showcase Lawton’s new HP Indigo 10000 digital press, which was up and running last fall. At the time of installation, the HP Indigo 10000 was said to be the only press of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.
The student pieces were designed to educate print buyers and marketers about variable data printing and its ability to achieve true one-to-one marketing through sophisticated personalization.
Lawton Printing Services held an awards reception for its fourth-annual student design scholarship, celebrating the entries, and the event also provided the students with a great opportunity to connect with people in the printing industry. "The students got to see everybody's designs and we announced the winners. It was also fun for them to be able have that interaction,” adds Lawton.
Scholarships were awarded to Teresa Mendoza-Embrey from SFCC, who took home first place honors; Kaitlyn Santos and Andrew Kennedy, both EWU students who shared second place; and Abby Damerow, also from EWU, who took third. Additionally, the judges awarded two honorable mentions to Callie Bostic and Jill Poland, both from SFCC.
“This project has been a lot of fun and we've gotten better at it over the years,” relays Lawton. “The first year, we asked students to design a box, the second year it was a poster, the third year an eight-page brochure (so that the students could learn pagination), and this year, a poster-sized, folded piece.”
Over the years, Lawton says that the students have really liked the diversity of the design projects. “I certainly think it's been interesting for them to sift through, and figure out, what makes sense when creating a marketing piece. So, it's creative for them."
Lawton adds that a lot of the students will complete a two-year program at their respective schools, and then will enter the work world with the skills they have acquired. “It allows us to showcase what our company is doing. We're probably not the norm that they would think about coming to work for, but as our company continues to morph, a our need for a designer or a Web designer fits,” she notes.
Lawton encourages other commercial printers to participate in some type of scholarship program to help propel the printing industry forward. “Our contest has given students the opportunity to learn about our organization and to get exposure about career opportunities existing within the printing industry that may be different than what they expected. You also get to meet some great students,” she concludes.
“It’s about embracing what's happening in your local communities and working with area colleges to help those students that are participating in a graphic design or other graphic arts related program.”
To find out more about the 2018 annual student design scholarship program, contact Trevor Werttemberger at (509) 321-1441 or at email@example.com