After a semester filled with hours upon hours of tireless work, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire art students Roslyn Cashman and Lukas Carlson were finally able to see their finished product, and will continue to see it on campus running the student bus route for the entire academic year.
And that product is anything but ordinary: a bus with a specially designed wrap to commemorate UW-Eau Claire’s 100th year of excellence.
One of many exciting ways UW-Eau Claire’s centennial is being celebrated, the bus wrap is sponsored by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation and Erbert & Gerbert’s, a partnership Foundation President Kimera Way said her team is excited to be a part of.
"The Foundation has been integrally involved in supporting many of the Centennial Celebration activities, so we were thrilled to be able to facilitate the gift from Erbert & Gerbert’s to support the bus wrap project,” Way said. “It is especially meaningful to partner with our own local sandwich brand that has such a long connection to the university."
When plans for the bus wrap began in the fall of 2015, Ned Gannon, UW-Eau Claire professor of illustration, was chosen as an adviser for the project. In this role, he had to select students who he was confident could successfully complete the project. Enter Lukas Carlson and Roslyn Cashman.
Despite some hesitancy to be part of such a large undertaking, the duo was honored to work on such an extraordinary project.
“I really try to get a lot of jobs and build my portfolio, but this is a super unique project,” said Cashman, a senior graphic design major. “I don’t know how many students would have this in their portfolio, so this is super, super valuable. I’m so thankful to Ned for thinking I could do this and get it done.”
Despite the enormity of the project and the obstacles the team faced along the way, Gannon said he was confident throughout the months of work.
“I looked for students who not only had strong technical skills but also were reliable with deadlines,” Gannon said. “They worked very independently throughout the project, and I am very pleased with the result, especially given they had extremely tight deadlines for a project this size, continued work through final exam week and had some technical hiccups.”
Although the premise of both sides of the bus wrap representing the university’s past and present was the brainchild of overseeing parties including Gannon, Carlson and Cashman were behind all the other major decisions and ideas. With approval from Erbert & Gerbert’s and the Centennial Celebration Planning Team, as well as artistic and design input from several designers and professors, including graphic artist Amanda Obenhoffer in UW-Eau Claire's Integrated Marketing and Communications department, the students kept their eyes on the prize.
“We just really had to learn how to work with many people,” said Carlson, a senior illustration major. “Different people wanted different things at the same time, and we wanted to make it something we enjoyed as well, so it was kind of a balancing act.”
While allowing both Carlson, of Shoreview, Minnesota, and Cashman, of Black Earth, to get professional experience, they also earned class credit for the hours they spent on the project while balancing their own busy schedules filled with schoolwork, activities and other projects.
Carlson and Cashman said the experience was much different than that of class projects they have worked on in the past.
“You can’t just put it off until the end, you have to figure out how you’re able to push yourself consistently,” Cashman said. “You’re counting it like a class, but it’s real world. And that’s really how you should treat all of your projects.”
“I think that it’s kind of given me a perspective of how things work in reality. Things aren’t just assignments that you turn in and that’s it,” Carlson said. “What you make is actually going to be used. My art is my product and (this project) has helped me realize I need to maintain a high quality of work in order to keep customers happy … and to keep them coming back for more.”
Not only was Gannon excited for Cashman and Carlson to represent the university’s art department, he was excited to see the students grow as artists.
“I think such a project gets the fabulous talents we have here in our department out into the public on a moving gallery and takes art right where they are. I'm happy that art and design students were able to contribute in this substantial way to the celebration of a hundred years of strong education in Eau Claire,” Gannon said. “Projects like these — with large-scale printing and translating an image to a large scale or less traditional surface — provide excellent glimpses into working as a professional designer or illustrator with all the responsibilities of answering to a client, meeting deadlines and solving technical issues.”
Wrapping a bus with a unique, themed design turned out to be a truly hands-on, high-impact learning experience.
Community members can see the bus running varying lines in the Eau Claire Transit system for the rest of the summer. And students: When you return in the fall, a unique bus will be waiting to take you home, to school or wherever you’re headed on the student loop, in style.