Design Class Shenanigans

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The semester is officially over, projects have been graded, and those grades have been submitted. I am enjoying a short break of a few days before my study-abroad trip to Italy. Though I have been abroad, this is my first time taking students. They are all very excited, which excites me and makes me a little nervous, but it is all part of the adventure.

Teaching college-aged students comes with a myriad of interesting and colorful moments and conversations. The moments are always memorable, but our casual conversations make them even more remarkable.

At the beginning of class, we talk for several minutes. I call it “storytime.” Sometimes, the students come ready to share; sometimes, they are quiet. Some classes develop a very tight rapport and take risks with each other with bantering and wit. Other classes are more reserved and approach each other carefully. Even in those classes, though, a few are always eager to share and engage in lively conversations.

Aside from the precious creative discovery, my favorite moments are when the class and I talk. This semester’s conversations brought many quirky phrases and comments. My students are usually happy to provide me with content for my lettering. Anything shared in storytime is confidential (I am sworn to secrecy)—unless they share something that threatens their well-being or the well-being of others. However, when something quotable and quirky comes up, my students are eager to see it posted on my Instagram.

Here is a selection of my favorite quotes from this year. Some will need context to understand their significance, and I will try to provide that without violating any confidence shared in class.

Early in the semester, one of my classes hit a rough patch. The response was both hard and sweet. Several endearing shows of affection came out of it; one was the quote below from Alyssa Holder (left): “The ignorance of others should never be your burden to bear.” I thought it was a beautiful and wise affirming statement. What also came out of that rough patch was an unexpected, beautiful, and rich conversation with one of my students.

The Introduction to Graphic Design class was small—there were only five of us, including myself. The comments were odd, weird, and hilarious. A conversation about tomatoes prompted this quote by Meme Banks (right): “A tomato is natural ketchup.”

Said by Alyssa Holder (left), and Meme Banks (right). Lettered by © Alma Hoffmann, 2024.

One of the funniest moments was when one of my Typography class students, Jonathan McFarlanne, innocently told us about his acquaintance, Mr. Ricky, and his influence in town. We started teasing about the possible ramifications—think of mob movies. The more he explained, the more oblivious he seemed to the joke. We laughed so hard and I told him I would letter it. He was very happy to see it when I emailed it to him. Some students downloaded it for their computer wallpaper.

After that conversation, the same student said, “We should have a pocket Alma.” I immediately wrote it down.

Shared by Jonathan McFarlanne (left and right). Lettered by ©Alma Hoffmann, 2024.

Conversations about parents always come up. A story about how their parents using the app Life 360 can feel intrusive prompted this quote by Evan Sayre (left). Our classroom sometimes smells like gas because the outside of the building also smells like gas. One day, it was so intense that it came up in class. Meme Banks said our classroom had a “designated smell” (right).

Quotes by Evan Sayre (left) and Meme Banks (right). Lettered by Alma Hoffmann, 2024.

The next one is by Taylor Schilling, who, in reply to a joke in class, said: “I like my dignity where it is.” I can’t recall the context, but we could not stop laughing that day. That same day, Meme Banks provided another gem—more laughter. Kayla Jackson immediately offered this quote: “Embrace your coolness, Taylor.”

Quotes by Taylor Schilling (left), Meme Banks (center), and Kayla Jackson (right). Lettered by ©Alma Hoffmann, 2024.

Sometimes, our critiques happen amid a room full of laughter; when that happens, it is definitely one of my favorite times. This quote below was by Evan Sayre. He wanted to share it with me to letter it. It is part of ongoing banter with a group of friends. It goes: “I am not here with you; you are here with me.” The quote references the movie The Watchmen. In storytime during the final, Alyssa Holder shared how pleasant it was to be at her apartment complex pool, saying: “Why am I so gorgeous?” We all broke into laughter.

Shared by Evan Sayre (left) and Alyssa Holder (right). Lettered by © Alma Hoffmann, 2024.

Last but not least, I was looking for something to letter on Saturday. I asked my family to say something “stupid.” My husband thought I should letter precisely that, and I did.

© Alma Hoffmann, 2024.

My student Evan Sayre, happily obliged on my post: “Life is like a sandwich. No matter which way you flip it, bread comes first.” If you know the author, please let me know (I tried to find the source, but the search gave me only memes).

Comment shared by Evan Sayre. Lettered by © Alma Hoffmann, 2024.

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