It’s a question art majors often get asked. Recently, a group of them answered it on a trip to Philadelphia, where they teamed up with George Fox faculty and leaders from the Philadelphia Dream Center to create assets that educate the community about the center’s many ministries.

Among the projects tackled were graphic design services for the center’s website and print collateral, and fine art illustration work. It marked the first spiritual life trip (“SpiL trip”) where students applied vocational skills related to their specific major to a service project. 

“We have that promise – Be Known – and we are here saying, ‘We want this center to be known in the city of Philadelphia,’” graphic design major Adrienne Pena said of the trip. “We want people to know this place is here for them. We’re here helping them be light to this community – to be hope to them.”

The university’s art major equips students to take their God-given gift of creating to be graphic designers, illustrators, educators, photographers, interior designers and studio artists. And, in the case of the Philadelphia crew, to help make the world a better place.

Art Programs at George Fox

Watch video: What Can YOU Do with an Art Degree? Impact on Community

Video Transcript

Adrienne Pena (student): A lot of people ask art students, "What can you do with an art degree?" Well, one thing you can do is to use your education to help people to make the world a better place. So me and a couple other art students went to Philadelphia to use our education to do just that.

Dream City Church had settled into this old Catholic building and church, and because the community has known that it’s been a Catholic church for so long, they think it’s still an old Catholic church and that it’s closed, so we really wanted to help them revitalize the branding of the church. And we want people to know that it's, like, alive and, you know, it’s a place to come and worship and just be in community with each other.

We have that saying, Be Known, you know, we want this church to be known as well in the city of Philadelphia and in the community here.

Marvin Eans (Chair, Department of Art & Design): You know, branding is a critical part of visual communications for an organization ’cause it helps build trust, right? So being able to establish a strong foundation and messaging for the organization will help them to be able to reach this community and help build more brand equity with what they’re all about in the different projects they’re bringing to the community.

Adrienne Pena: We worked on a huge banner for the church because they have this gate surrounding the front of the church, and so it makes the church look a lot, like, closed down still. We’re measuring it and we put those measurements into an Illustrator file to just create a little measurement guideline for future students to use or future teams.

So that’s what we really wanted to do with this project was to create a bigger banner to kind of showcase, like, what’s happening at the church, what outreaches do they have. We also want it to be big enough and, like, eye-catching enough so people who are, like, walking by can see it. So that was really important for creating the banner.

Marvin Eans: And being here even for this SpiL trip, this missions trip with the Philly Dream Center, it’s giving students an opportunity to take the things they’ve learned from the classroom and apply them in real-world situations and get that experience communicating with clients and volunteers to help inform their creative work and their process.

Adrienne Pena: When we first arrived at the Philadelphia Dream Center, the pastors or leaders of the center were able to take us to one of the spots of Philadelphia where they are really trying to be what our pastor here at George Fox says, pastor Rus, "Hope dealers.”

Rus St. Cyr (University Pastor for Service and Soul Care): We’re hope dealers.

Adrienne Pena: I think that was very important for us as the graphic design team to see so we can really help them with their mission to be a light in that part of Philadelphia so people can know more about them, what they’re doing, and they can receive more attention from volunteers and help from others.

Marvin Eans: Students are getting firsthand experience in seeing how their design skill sets can help impact this local community and bring forth positive change in the area that is in need.

Adrienne Pena: One of my really favorite moments on this trip was exploring the Catholic church at night. And it’s just very different from seeing it in the morning because it’s just, like, all spooky, there’s dust flying everywhere. There was an old piano that we found. Everything’s kind of broken down. You peek into the confessional booths, it’s, like, very spooky.

And when we climbed to the top of the bell tower, we were able to see through a hole in the wall where they had found their logo. It was the steeple right across from us, so it was really cool just to see kinda like the origin of their branding.

One of the biggest things I learned was how to fall in love with the process of creation because, while we created all this work together during this trip, we were able to see it physically, like, these are future plans for the church to use. And so just being able to work together with an amazing group of designers and just have fun and fall in love with the process was really great.

It was extremely fun to help out those organizations, and I can’t wait to do more work like that. If you would like to learn more about the SpiL trips, go ahead and check out our website in the description, or check out our channel.

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