Three Cal Poly graphic communication alumni were awarded scholarships at the 2011 Bookbuilders West Scholarship Competition on June 20. Christina Dillon, Daniel Triassi and Jeannie Nguyen each won $500 for their respective book design projects.
Student competitors were asked to select, design and reproduce a limited edition book. The projects were judged on creativity, presentation and meeting design objectives.
The books were created for a Cal Poly Book Design Technology course taught by associate professor Lorraine Donegan.
“These books were amazing,” Donegan said. “We won three of the five awards they gave.”
Bookbuilders West, a non-profit association founded in San Francisco in 1969, brings in competitors from 13 Western states. Cal Poly has participated in the scholarship competition for more than 20 years and has won an award every year, Donegan said.
The competition, which was offered to Donegan as a student at Cal Poly in 1997, requires all participants to be currently enrolled at a Western college, university or technical school, and must have the intent to pursue a career in book production or publishing.
Cal Poly journalism and graphic communication alumnus Triassi redesigned “The Hardy Boys, Tower of Treasure” after he was inspired to design a mystery novel, he said.
“The goal of re-designing ‘The Hardy Boys’ was to appeal to a new target market of adolescents who often forgo classic literature for more current trends such as vampires, werewolves and magic,” Triassi said. “By using reason and intellect, the boys triumph over evil, proving the worst problems can be solved without supernatural power and instead with wit.”
Triassi said he chose to re-invent the series with timeless nostalgia, drawing on designs of the 1950s and ’60s, including his own illustrations. Triassi also used glow-in-the-dark ink on the spine of the book, and included an interactive folding map within the book.
Nguyen designed and produced “Ella Minnow Pea,” a novel based on a society in which letter writing is the principal form of communication.
“I was absolutely shocked when I heard that I won,” Nguyen said. “I didn’t expect to win at all because I am not a very crafty person. I am so happy to win and that the judges appreciated my design.”
Dillon designed and produced “Pride and Prejudice,” a classic novel by Jane Austen.
After redesigns were submitted, Bookbuilders West compiled a panel of judges from a variety of publishing companies: Michael Carabetta, creative director, Chronicle Books; Leslie Cohen, freelance production director; Rob Ehle, art director, Stanford University Press; and Alistair Fein, senior designer, McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
“The people who are judging these books are top-notch in the industry,” Donegan said. “The art director for Chronicle books was judging. They’re the best in the industry.”
“The reason why each year Cal Poly students do so well is because of Lorraine Donegan,” Cal Poly graphic communication department chair Harvey Levenson said. “We do so well in this competition that our students are in great demand by publishers when they graduate.”
Cal Poly is few schools teaching book design.
“There’s not a lot of schools that teach a class like this,” Donegan said. “The only (California State University) that teaches book design is Chico State.”
Nguyen said she was never interested in book design before taking the class.
“(Donegan) has shown me how cool book design is, and it is something I greatly appreciate now,” she said.