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Student's Artwork Chosen for Starbucks Anniversary Blend

January 3, 2011

Michaela Bell, an OBU senior graphic design major from Longmont, Colo., recently produced artwork chosen by Starbucks Coffee to represent its 40th Anniversary Blend in the North Texas and Oklahoma region. The artwork will be displayed on stickers and labels on the coffee, which she named "Red River Blend," as well as on shirts worn by employees in stores that get more than 90 percent customer satisfaction ratings.

Bell learned about the competition through her work as a barista at the Shawnee, Okla., Starbucks. A flyer announced a contest open only to the Starbucks employees, called partners. The contest entailed designing a label/sticker for the 40th Anniversary Blend Starbucks is releasing in early 2011. The parameters said the design must portray the local Starbucks region, known as Area 119 and encompassing North Texas and Oklahoma; include a name for the coffee; and have "Area 119" on the design.

"In my design, I used the things that say 'Oklahoma/North Texas' to me," said Bell, whose artwork includes both vintage and modern windmills and depictions of the area's red dirt. "I tried to show Native American art in the patterns on the hills, the colorful sunsets, open sky, swirling wind, red earth and wind turbines for energy production. I may have exaggerated the hills. I haven't really seen many hills since I've moved to Oklahoma from Colorado!"

Bell said after doing design work at a community college for one year in Colorado, she came to Bison Hill to learn design from Ron Lana, a former associate professor of art at OBU. Lana helped Bell secure an internship at Saddleback Church in California, where she got her first taste of real-world graphic design. Lana returned to California, and Corey Fuller came to OBU as assistant professor of graphic design.

With a completely different approach to graphic design, Bell said she believes Fuller has moved OBU's graphic design program forward. Before she started in his classes, Bell heard he was a challenging professor.

"I went in thinking I was going to show him how 'tough' I could be and learned that he's tough, but really he wants to see his students work hard and succeed," Bell said. "If you come to OBU to learn design, you're going to learn from a great professor. He'll push you ... but it will make you so much better. Learn to handle it. Deadlines, late nights, positive and negative feedback, and pressure: That's the world of graphic design."

Fuller said he often stresses to students to use their graphic design skills for ministries, campus organizations or even for their employer.

"If a student has projects and clients that they have pursued on their own, outside of what I've assigned as course work, that indicates a great deal of initiative and passion for design on the part of the student," he said.

Fuller said Bell possesses a natural eye for design -- being able to create compositions that are visually pleasing and have a logical flow.

"However, her primary strength, I believe, is in her conceptual ability," he said. "She has a real knack for generating original ideas. Part of design is certainly decorative, but it's mainly about concepts. Mikki understands that. It's only a matter of time before her in-class strengths begin to pay off outside of class."

Fuller said Bell's achievement through the Starbucks competition speaks to OBU students' ability to compete in the design community.

"To have OBU students winning contests such as this creates a very positive reflection on OBU," he said. "Graphic design is a highly competitive field, and I want our students to be right in the mix of it."

Starbucks Coffee has more than 16,700 locations in 50 countries. The company has identified three areas of focus: ethical sourcing, environmental stewardship and community involvement. For more information, click here.

For more information about OBU's graphic design program, click here.