Rachel Cifarelli ’21 wins gold in Innovation Center for Design Excellence competition

The rising senior and communication design major created a three-poster series highlighting sustainability and ways to reduce environmental impact for ICDE’s environmental graphic design contest.

Rachel Cifarelli, a rising senior majoring in communication design, recently earned a gold medal in the Innovation Center for Design Excellence’s 2020 Environmental Graphic Design Competition.

Posters designed by rising senior Rachel Cifarelli received high praise from both the Innovation Center for Design Excellence and Associate Professer Ben Hannam, becoming one of seven gold medalists in ICDE’s 2020 competitions.

Cifarelli created a poster series that emphasized going plant-based, reusable and thrifting, and was one of seven students to receive a gold medal in ICDE’s 2020 design competitions. Cifarelli entered her work in the competition after creating the posters as part of a class project for her Design of Visual Images course, and beat out fellow medalists from Austin Peay State University to win the award.

“As I was in the midst of creating these posters, my professor, Ben Hannam, was sending me a few competitions because he really liked my posters and thought I could do well in them,” she said.

Cifarelli has a keen interest in environmentalism and sustainability, and used both of those as her inspiration for the project. “I went vegan in 2016, and it kind of opened my world up to sustainability and how to be more environmentally conscious,” she said.

The three posters, each unique in its style, highlight a different part of her world view. In each poster, Cifarelli used various elements taught in class, including shading with shapes and the creation of vector brushes, to enhance the overall image.

After watching videos on those two topics through Skillshare, Cifarelli pitched Hannam, associate professor in communication design, with the idea of creating a sustainability campaign.

“After a peer-to-peer critique, I met with Rachel for a one-on-one critique and I was blown away by the quality of her work and how well she integrated what she learned about vector brushes in Skillshare,” Hannam said.

For Cifarelli, winning the award is not only something to add to her resume, but it is also a massive confidence boost for the rising senior.

“Knowing that someone thinks my work is good enough to award me this gold medal … it makes this a huge milestone in my graphic design career,” she said.

About ICDE

The Innovation Center for Design Excellence (ICDE) is a nonprofit organization with the mission to create educational opportunities for underprivileged design students. The organization awards scholarships, internships and mentoring programs for students across the United States.  ICDE also honors students in the field by sponsoring national student design competitions, including the categories of environmental design, book cover, package design, logo and branding.