Three OU Students Receive 2018 Neustadt Design Awards from World Literature Today

June 28, 2018
by WLT
A silhouette of a dark skinned woman with a headwrap composed of words
The winning design in the 2018 Neustadt Lit Festival poster
design competition by Jill Craighead

University of Oklahoma students Jill Craighead, Mikayla Baldwin, and Jacob Cullum have won first, second, and third place in the 2018 Neustadt Lit Festival poster design competition. This competition is part of an annual collaboration between World Literature Today and the University of Oklahoma School of Visual Arts.

Craighead’s winning design will be used in promotional materials for the 2018 Neustadt Lit Fest from Oct. 9–11, 2018 on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus. The festival will feature the 25th Neustadt Prize laureate Edwidge Danticat, the author of stories, essays, travel commentary, film scripts, young adult novels, and four mainstream novels, including her debut novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah’s Book Club selection in 1998.

“Jill achieved a lot in her design — her color palette is energetic and harmonious, and I think her concept references Danticat’s writing in an innovative way,” said WLT art director Jen Rickard Blair.

Visual Communication professor and undergraduate coordinator Karen Hayes-Thumann runs this competition in her spring undergraduate course. For this unique project that is packaged as part of the course, the students learn how to work with a client and pitch their design concepts. WLT’s editor-in-chief Daniel Simon and art director Jen Rickard Blair visited the class and corresponded with students to help them refine their work.

A native Oklahoman and an OU junior Visual Communication undergraduate, Craighead is minoring in health and exercise science and nonprofit organizational studies. In 2017, she spent the summer in Arezzo, Italy, where she studied fine arts and design with the OU School of Visual Arts. While in Arezzo, an exhibition featured Craighead's photo documentary about two fashion designers. She will graduate in May 2020 and plans to pursue a career in graphic design.

Baldwin is an OU junior Visual Communication undergraduate from Moore, Oklahoma and will graduate in 2020. Baldwin said since she has joined the program at OU she has fallen even more in love with design, and she hopes to pursue a career in branding.

From Janesville, Wisconsin and an OU junior in Visual Communication, Cullum moved to Oklahoma with aspirations to pursue a career in law but soon discovered the Visual Communication program. Cullum said he’s now pursuing a more fulfilling career for himself—one that uses his true passion for art and design.