A crowded room and a ticking clock may not be the ideal environment for creative work. Still, Quyen Truong, KLN '19, and her team kept their cool in the Temple Adobe Creative Jam and walked away with both the Judges' Choice and the People's Choice awards in the high-pressure design competition.
The competition gives designers a theme and just three hours to come up with a complete creative product. Kathy Mueller, assistant professor of advertising, made clear that the Creative Jam is a big challenge and it takes guts to enter—and she should know. Mueller and her teammate David Jones, TYLER '14, also took home both prizes in the professional version of the competition in 2016. Mueller is proud of Truong's victory, but not surprised by it. Truong has been an top design and art direction student in her classes for two semesters.
"Quyen is diligent, creative and shows a real attention to detail," says Mueller. "She's got a great attitude and she always accepts and incorporates feedback."
As a Creative Jam winner, Mueller was able to offer advice to Truong and her team as they prepared, encouraging them to put a high priority on time management. However, Truong stresses that competition advice wasn't Mueller's biggest contribution to the victory, offering that the design skills Mueller taught were crucial to the project's success. So were the critical thinking skills.
"It's the way she structures her classes, and the way she's pushed us," said Truong. "She always critiques us in a way that forces us to explore all the options."
Truong admits that the Creative Jam's three-hour time frame was "definitely scary." Taking Mueller's advice, her team met before the competition began, created a schedule and promised to stick to it. Truong, Alexandra Osipov, TYLER '19 and Rabia Ugucu, FOX '19, formed a triumvirate that dubbed themselves the "femmes fatales." The team was powerful in its diversity. Osipov brought a good eye for imagery, and could quickly make changes to the visual elements of the project. Ugucu kept the team on time and on task. "It was cool having both a creative thinker and a logical thinker on the team," said Truong, whose art direction skills tied the project together.
It also helped that the team communicated well. "We didn't have as much stress as other teams," said Truong, "and I think we had more fun."
Truong was able to gauge how other teams were doing because the Creative Jam takes place in one big room, with competitors just a table away. But the team didn't find their competitors distracting. They were completely focused—on food. "There were free snacks!" Truong reported. "A whole table of snacks! So we were just all concentrating on grabbing food and eating it and staring at our screens."
For this year's Temple Jam, the theme was a big one: identity. Truong's team created a social media campaign, complete with hashtag and video, called the "I Am More" campaign, designed to combat stereotypes.
"It was all about helping people realize that one is more than the circumstances that he or she is born into," says Truong. The website features stories of individuals and the ways that they transcended the stereotypes about them.
When it was time to pitch their work, the femme's bellies were full and their project was polished. The judges selected the "I Am More" campaign as their choice, and then attendees were polled in real time for the People's Choice award. "We actually saw the poll happening," says Truong. "It was really intense seeing the numbers go up and then down." Now, the aspiring art director is on to her next venture, working on a new project designing enamel pins and screenprint posters.