Chatham University Graduates Launch First Passion Project Through Graphic Design Collective


When the coronavirus pandemic forced a nationwide lockdown, six graphics graduates from Chatham University were exhausted and need community support.

To rekindle their creativity and simulate the collaborative environment they experienced in Chatham, the group got together to pursue a passion project in January.

It was then that Bracks Collective was born.

Co-founder Bree Rice said Bracks Collective was created to enable collaboration. It’s a team that offers its members the opportunity to immerse themselves in “everything that we are all passionate about” beyond the graphic design work they do in their full-time job.

“I think the reason it all started, really, was because it was lockdown and we were all feeling creatively exhausted,” Gibsonia’s Rice said. “We were extremely lonely during quarantine. “

The collective’s first project, Protected Pack, is a playing card game featuring several near-threatened, endangered, critical and extinct species. Its Kickstarter campaign was launched on August 2 with a fundraising goal of $ 9,355.

Kickstarter – a website that helps people start creative projects – has named Protected Pack a “Project We Love,” a title given to highlight the work of selected creators.

Co-founder Rachel Keeney said the money was needed to buy 625 sets through Bicycle Playing Cards. The pledges will also cover the cost of printing, fulfillment, shipping, handling charges and taxes.

If additional funds are raised, the collective will be able to print more sets and add more details, such as a personalized seal and gold edges.

Rice said she is unsure if the collective will generate enough money to make a profit, but if they do, the group would like to select an endangered species cause to donate a seventh of its benefits.

Each combination represents a different level of extinction. Hearts signify an almost endangered species, clubs indicate vulnerability, diamonds are for endangered species, pikes for critically endangered species, and wild cards represent extinct species. Face cards also follow themes. The marine life will represent the kings and the cats will represent the queens.

The project received $ 3,195 – nearly 35% of its required funding – from 108 backers as of August 4. The Kickstarter campaign will run until August 31, when the collective hopes to finalize the card illustrations.

Rice said the collective aims to complete production of the bridge by the end of November so that shipping can begin in December – just in time for Christmas.

According to McDonald’s Keeney, the main goal is to “raise awareness of endangered species and ask people to take the time to think about their impact.” To facilitate this, the decks will include a QR code that will lead to information about each animal featured and what people can do to keep them alive.

Keeney said each member of the collective specializes in different aspects of graphic design, so those who see themselves as illustrators have helped others through the process.

“Each of us has different skills that we can all benefit from,” Keeney said. “With people seeing that they can actually do (illustrations), it gave us a lot of confidence and enthusiasm to try new things. “

Other members of the collective include Cassie Rupert of Greensburg, Alexa Frankovich of Pittsburgh, Kandice Hartner of New Wilmington and Sarah Huth of Pittsburgh.

Keeney said she and Huth were the illustrators for the group. Rice specializes in typography, Frankovich does photography, and Hartner focuses on editorial design.

Rice said Bracks Collective is not an official agency and the group has no plans to make it a full-time job. Keeney added that this dynamic keeps the fun going.

“We want to keep the pressure on so we have the flexibility to stay creative,” Keeney said.

The collective is also flexible on its members. Rice said the group is open to new people joining or resigning current members if the time is too long.

“It’s just about collaborating, working together and exchanging ideas at the end,” she said.

Quincey Reese is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Quincey at 724-757-4910, [email protected] or via Twitter .



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