The University of Arizona Campus Recreation has recently opened a new workout space for faculty, staff, graduate students and community members called Studio 91. The bookstore previously occupied the space, meaning it was renovated from a retail space into a fully functional workout facility.
However, the new gym was enclosed with glass walls right at the entrance of the facility and patrons expressed the importance of having a space where they felt they had some privacy to feel confident coming to the gym. This created a unique situation on what to do with roughly 500 square feet of glass.
Enter Ric Nielsen, the senior graphic designer for Campus Recreation and former art director for the City of Tucson and dean of Graphic Design at Brown Mackie College. A graphic designer and fine artist by trade, Ric ventured into the desert to bring his idea to life. He shares on using his unique skill sets below.
Describe how the Studio 91 tinting came to be, how you came up with the idea and how you ended up taking the pictures for the design?
Rick Nielsen: When I received the assignment, I thought that just having tinted frosting on the window of the new Studio 91 was going to be lifeless and flat. I thought of images with people working out or playing sports was a good idea, but the issues that went along with what images to pick was overwhelming. Then I got the idea to bring in the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. What better way to represent Arizona then the great saguaro cactus. The idea of bringing in the outside environment was very appealing, so I did a mockup to present to the powers that be. They liked it.
What does it feel like and mean to you to come into work and see your images on the new space?
RN: I love coming to work each day. The excitement and feeling of enthusiasm that excises at Campus Recreation is amazing. The graphics on the walls help with the feeling of wellness, rejuvenation and the overall feeling that is Campus Rec. It’s cool.
What is your favorite part of working in Campus Recreation?
RN: I love my job. The creativity part is my favorite; the students and professionals I work with is a very close second. Being a creative person, my job is very gratifying.
With so much marketing going digital how do you feel projects like these create a holistic environment and improve the department?
RN: All my art is in the digital world. In that world there is lots of room for creativity. The possibilities are endless. I majored in graphic design and minored photography which was one of the smartest things I ever did. They go hand in hand and complement each other. An artist can take a wonderful photograph or scan, enhance it, manipulate it or destroy it to my heart’s content and it may or may not become art. That’s the fun of it.
What would you recommend to peers in Campus Recreation marketing to support artistic vision and to utilize these abilities to enhance their programs and facilities?
RN: I would say to think out of the box and go for it. Never be afraid to steal ideas and then to create new ones, put them together and come up with new creative ones.
Ric’s images have gone beyond the Studio 91 frosting. It has now been used in the newly renovated Membership Suite. Plus, it’s being looked at to be printed to replace plain banners throughout the facility. This has shown how a unique idea and skillset can create positive change throughout the department.
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