Epp, Alison, Mraovic Impress in Oklahoma Contest

Art PosterPLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University graphic design students Madeline Alison and Anna Epp each had artwork selected as part of the 15 best posters in the Create Challenge competition organized by the University of Oklahoma, Tom Love Innovation Hub and Travel Oklahoma. Dejan Mraović, assistant professor of graphic design at Wayland, also had pieces named in the top 15 of the contest.

Epp, a senior from Balko, Okla., had three pieces selected in the top 15. The three pieces depict three ideals that Epp wanted to communicate with her posters. One, “Cruising the Route 66 in Cadillac Eldorado” focuses on some of those things Oklahoma is best known for, such as cowboys, open skies and beautiful sunsets. That poster was selected as one of the winning posters in the contest, earning Epp a $400 prize package sponsored by OU Innovation Hub and Travel OK. Travel OK also has plans to retain the artwork and sell posters in travel stops.

Epp also designed a piece that is a map of the state of Oklahoma, tracing the route and highlighting some of the attractions visitors can see along the way. Her third piece combines ominous storm clouds with the phrase “get your kicks” in a twist of irony.

Alison, a graphic design major from Plainview, submitted a poster depicting an old model pickup in front of a vintage gas pump at an old service station, playing on nostalgia to communicate the Route 66 experience.

“I spent a year living in Lawton, in southwest Oklahoma and I think very fondly of the time I spent there enjoying friends, nature and exploring Oklahoma,” Alison said. “Inspired by the wealth of vintage architecture that propagates the great state of Oklahoma, this representational poster pays tribute to the iconic American filling station. I wanted to capture the spirit of the American tourist posters of the 1940s.”

Mraović also had two pieces selected in the top 15 of the Create Challenge. One pays tribute to the Native American Heritage as well as the Will Rogers Highway in the form of a brown and white highway sign that combines a traditional Oklahoma highway badge with U.S. 66 emblazoned on it and an arrowhead designed in similar fashion with U.S. OK as the lettering. His second piece is what he described as a humorous look at a new flag for the state. Drawing inspiration from the original Oklahoma flag that was a red background with a white star outlined in blue and the blue number 46 in the center, marking Oklahoma as the 46th state. That state flag was replaced in 1925 with the current blue flag. Mraović’s design mimics the original, but replaces the star and 46 with a blue and white highway sign badge with 66 in the middle.

Diane Varnes, who assistated in organizing the project said the contest is meant to "challenge individuals to think differently about problem solving and encourage creativity."

"We want the participants to stretch their creative muscles and try something new," Varnes said. "Our hope is that it will encourage them to take that with them and apply it to other areas of their life."

Creating the Oklahoma themed posters was a class assignment in Mraović’s ART 3330 Graphic Design 2 class. Mraović regularly finds contests his students can enter and uses them for teaching purposes. These posters were created in the Fall 2020 semester. A number of students have had artwork published or selected for gallery displays in the past few years.