The work of the HP Design Company is on display throughout the halls of Highland Park High School, from posters promoting upcoming events to spirit shirts touting a club or team.
That’s the sort of real-world experience HPHS teacher Chris Fullwood envisioned when he launched the idea two years ago as a way to get students in his advanced graphic design class to extend their learning beyond the classroom.
His brainstorm led to an email sent to the entire school district explaining the concept and soliciting ideas for student projects.
“I wanted to give them an actual opportunity to work with clients,” Fullwood said. “I wasn’t sure what we were going to get. We got a great response. I got about 30 replies right away.”
The proposals ranged from simply scanning photos and making copies to more conceptual ideas such as designing shirts, fliers and brochures.
The company essentially consists of three students who are in a third-semester, advanced-placement graphic design class. They said there’s a sense of pride in seeing their work being utilized for more than just a grade.
“This is actually being used by people,” said junior Carling Crawford. “T-shirts are the most fun because you can see people wearing them.”
Fullwood said he would like to extend the reach of HP Design Company outside of the district. Last year, the students partnered with SMU on a project. And they recently worked on a 3D model for a local concrete company.
With just three students this semester and a class that’s only an hour long, they are kept busy. But he suspects that as word of mouth spreads about the quality of the company’s work, more projects will follow. After all, it’s free labor.
“I would just like it to grow so we can take on even more clients,” Fullwood said.
The experience has been valuable for junior Claire White, who has started looking at colleges and internships to possibly study advertising and graphic design. She said the opportunity to build a portfolio in high school is rare.
“This has shown me that I can deal with real-world people,” White said. “I think it’s really cool that we’re getting a chance to do that here.”