NSU faculty member, alumna collaborate on project for Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program

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NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University Associate Professor of Art History Phyllis Lear and NSU alumna Hannah Fulton recently saw a three-year graphic design project move toward its final step.

Lear and Fulton worked as graphic designers on a Comprehensive, Conservation, & Management Plan for the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP). The plan was recently approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has gone to press.

Natchitoches Wood

According to Lear, the plan is a document for environmental scientists working on coastal restoration projects in the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary. Scientists must follow the guidelines within the overall plan when developing their plans and scopes of service.

“I think it’s important to provide a pleasing aesthetic for these scientists,” said Lear.

After initially meeting with BTNEP staff to learn what they wanted, the designers were given text and photographs and then created infographics, charts, tables and other design elements.

“We then came up with basic layout templates. Hannah came up with some really great designs,” said Lear. “We immediately knew we would layout each chapter beginning with a double-page spread and ending with a double page spread. This way each chapter could be handled individually without affecting the preceding or following chapter.”

Communication between the designers who largely worked separately was vital to the project.

“We worked out a system and schedule on what needed to be done when and our responsibilities,” said Fulton. “The content would go from writers, to editors, then designers, design editing, and finally to the director for review and feedback. We all communicated goals and needs that needed to be met. We had a structure of having a chapter done roughly a week or so from each other.”

Lear and Fulton found that their talents meshed well. Lear, who does extensive freelance work, has a background as a practical visual artist with fiber as her major medium. Fulton has a strong aesthetic and working knowledge of graphic design software.

“This was a tremendously significant opportunity as I got to understand a different field of study and working with clients,” said Fulton, who is from Many. “I think there should be more opportunities where students apply their skills outside of their classes to gain more experience and a better understanding of their work.”

Fulton is working towards a Master of Fine Arts at the Louisiana Tech School of Design focusing on my studio art. She plans to graduate next May.

Lear feels the end product will stand out when compared to similar government documents.

“The document Hannah and I created is so aesthetically pleasing compared to similar government documents,” said Lear. “BTNEP did the right thing hiring an independent photographer, the photographs are stunning. Our layout design, charts and tables allow the reader to locate the information they are looking for quickly. There is a cohesiveness to the document as far as basic design elements or color, font and style are concerned.”

To learn more about the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, go to btnep.org.