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Graphic Design student team crafts TEDxPSU 2018 logo and branding

“Every topic, be it a problem or a solution, has multiple angles, faces, or approaches. TEDx talks present new ways of seeing, juxtaposing various paradigms and giving it a new twist.” – Rob Pitrovich, Graphic Design senior

The logo for this year’s TEDx at Penn State was designed by StuckemanSchool Graphic Design program senior, Rob Pitrovich, and his team: Turner Blashford, Emily Cheng, and Rachel Tiscione. The theme of TEDxPSU 2018 is: ‘FACE TO FACE’ – “It is about connecting to people and the world around us despite bias, barriers, and differences. It is about expanding our perspectives and coming together to improve the world we live in. To do this, we must open ourselves up to accept other people’s perspectives and to challenge our own beliefs.”

Ryan Russell, associate professor of graphic design, says that Penn State has been working with TEDx for about five years. At first, Russell worked exclusively with a handful of designers to produce the collateral for the TEDx that comes to Penn State. “Overtime TEDx has grown within the university and it has rapidly become one of the most popular conferences.” In fact, TEDxPSU has become number one at a university level and number three to make it onto the main TED webpage. Russell elaborates, “Overtime, the students have started taking over the directorship positions. So, every year they have to apply. We have the design director position which has been filled by a graphic design senior for the past three years.” This year, the position is granted to Rob Pitrovich. His team is in charge of branding the theme of TEDxPSU 2018. They have worked collaboratively with other committees to organize the conference since they were elected last April. Pitrovich’s team is responsible for the collateral used to promote the event, as well as the stage design for the day of the event, and other deliverables, including the branding, the logo, badges, posters, website, books, and digital assets. “The process shows the breadth of the TEDx conference. It is very collaborative, there are a lot of moving parts, and so for the students it is a great opportunity to get real-world experience to see what working in design is really like,” says Russell.

This year, the conference features fourteen speakers who will be addressing the theme “Face to Face.” It is a broad topic rooted in the core of TED: “ideas worth spreading”. The conference brings speakers from around the world, from all disciplines, discussing a variety of topics. Russell recalls, “My favorite speakers in the past have been people I had not heard of before. There is a tremendous amount of value from all the speakers. The idea behind TED is what makes it so special. You can have somebody who is talking about AIDs research and then the next thing can be a nun talking about their efforts about X, Y, and Z. The topics are so broad they keep your attention. The presentations are short and sweet, and the topics are really dynamic. Incredible ideas come out and inspire students at the university.”

Pitrovich describes the ideas behind his logo design in more detail: “everyone has their own idea of what something is and what something can be. So, it is about sharing those ideas and thoughts. When we were thinking of logos this year, we decided to do something about twisting perspectives. The design twists and forms and ‘X’ for TEDx. It is about seeing something at a different angle and from a different perspective. People come to the event with an open mind, they listen to other people. They look around, they see something new, and find something that’s different.”

Pitrovich goes on to discuss the process, “it’s been a learning curve, because it’s very independent. The other team/directors come to us and say ‘hey, we need a pamphlet’ and everyone will work together ­– the content team gives us content, and we get deadlines. It works like a company, because you need to meet the deadlines or everyone goes down with you.” He said they have met weekly and it has become more hectic as they close in on the last week. He was elected as design director in April of 2017 and his team started meeting before summer break. “Things really got going in the fall, we had the logo by October. It’s been quite an experience.” Pitrovich thinks the experience as design director is relevant to his future as a designer, “it will help me in my future to know what to expect when it comes to branding. I’ve never branded something this big. So, it has been interesting to see all these puzzle pieces come together. Making it into one cohesive element based around one theme. A really interesting experience! It’s been stressful I can tell you that, but what isn’t though? Trying to work, balancing school, and personal life.”

The whole TEDx process is run by Penn State students. Every director is a student. There is one faculty member, Herbert Reininger, who is the license holder for TEDxPSU. Pitrovich explains, “he knows the rules in the contract with TED Talks and makes sure we are staying within the guidelines.” Every student director has their own team. And the students represent different departments across the campus. Their role is closely related to what they are majoring in, but not directly correlated with a department. Russell explains that “it works a lot like Penn State’s Thon. The students interview students. Although, it is a fraction of the size of Thon.” The Graphic Design program also designs the logo for the university’s other notable student-run events, including Thon and Homecoming.

TEDxPSU 2018 Details

Information & Registration online:
Date: Sunday, February 11, 2018
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: Schwab Auditorium, University Park, PA

Free for everyone!

TEDxPSU 2018 'Face to Face' logo with curving red 'X' on a black background