Chelsea Asplund/The AS Review

AS Publicity Center designer Michael Murphree poses with his award-winning poster design.

When senior Michael Murphree was hired last summer as a graphic designer for the Associated Students Publicity Center, he had no idea months later he would be the recipient of an international award. Murphree, a graphic design major, won “Best Poster Design” in the “Steal This Idea” competition of the Association of College Unions International Region 14  based in Missoula, Mont. His winning design for the Associated Students Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Alliance Ice Cream Social was created through an extensive process of paper-curling and digital media. We sat down with Murphree to hear about his experience.

The AS Review: How did this poster come about?

Michael Murphree: This poster was one of my first projects I was assigned. I felt like a lot of the things that came out of the Publicity Center, while they’re great designs, there’s not a lot of hands-on stuff. Most things are made in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop and I just knew I wanted to make something. There is an artist named Yulia Brodskaya and I took inspiration from her. She does paper-curling and essentially makes typography and images out of paper. I wanted to get in that and see if I could do it. I did everything by hand, drew the type out, measured strips of paper, cut and hot-glued them to a board. There was such fine detail and I took tons of photos of it to see what image I could find was most appropriate. Then I had to build it, it took about 10 hours constructing. I photographed it and took it into Photoshop to correct the lighting and scale it down and eventually that’s what you see on the poster—a very fine tuned beast.

Review: Was there a particular aspect to this poster that set it apart?

Murphree: I was really excited it was an LGBT event. I secretly told them, you know, as someone who identifies as gay, I was going to make their poster look amazing. Not that I would make other events less amazing, but I had a personal investment [in] it. I told LGBTA Coordinator Josh Foley that to reassure him. My idea was so crazy and I had to tell him I wouldn’t let him down because this represents me too. People collect these posters. I go to my friend’s house and I see these posters hanging in their bedrooms and you go to these events, and I wanted someone to have my poster. It was really exciting to see the poster all come together.

Murphree's award-winning poster for the AS LGBTA Ice Cream Social.

Review: How did you hear about the competition?

Murphree: I didn’t even know Jeff entered me in the competition. He actually entered a couple of posters. I came into work and somebody said something to me “Oh did you hear what happened at work?” and I was terrified, I thought I was fired or something. They told me my poster won “Best in Show” out of 40 universities and I thought it was crazy. I got a little certificate from them and I’d really like to know who judged it or how the process went.

Review: Do you like designing for the PC?

Murphree: I love it. I was really surprised how I never got that experience in class. I feel so fortunate to be able to talk to clients and meet with people and have real deadlines. If this doesn’t get done, this event that a ton of people worked on, [they] will be let down. You have to do it. School is really important and it’s all about you in school. And this, I have all these people waiting for me. If I screw up then I screw up a ton of people. It’s nice to get that experience. I really think that I am so lucky to have this job.