Design Case Study: Annette Dennis and Kim Melvin Collaborate on Class of Covid Zine

It’s no coincidence that creative agility and adaptability are essential characteristics of both great designers and amazing teachers. At Shillington it is these abilities, alongside years of design experience and a good helping of playfulness that make our teachers the best people in the business to guide our students into an exciting career in design. This year Shillington’s teachers absolutely showed their salt as mentors and designers when our global courses moved into a remote setting with the earth shattering arrival of Covid-19.

In May, when our Australian students were graduating during lockdown, Melbourne full-time teachers Annette Dennis and Kim Melvin put their brilliant minds to the task of cooking up some extra special magic for their graduating class. With their mighty creative skillsets combined they brought the Class of Covid zine to life. The result is a beautiful class book featuring illustrations by Kim and typesetting and layout by Annette which celebrated all the full-time graduates in Melbourne. Read on to find out more about what went into Annette and Kim’s collaboration to bring this unique passion project into reality and learn a little more about these two awesome humans in the process.

Can you tell us a bit about the situation and story behind what initiated your Class of Covid passion project?

KM: Halfway through the semester, our class transitioned into online learning due to Covid. It was a bit of a shock to the system, but we were blown away by how quickly our class adapted to the new online learning environment.

We decided at that point that we wanted to create something for our students so they could all have a memento of a very special class and situation.

Kim, can you take us through your process for the illustrations and the style you arrived at?

KM: My illustrative style was influenced by the class photos you often see in school yearbooks.

I kept the illustrations simple and stuck to felt pen line to give a personalised organic approach.

Annette, can you walk us through your process and approach for the layout?

AK: Typographically I wanted to create something that had a bit of humour to it and played on current trends.

With the layout I looked to ensure that Kim’s illustrations were the hero and were not overshadowed with too much text.

So the layout is very simple, except for one spread which featured some quotes from Kim and I of things we used to say to the students in class.

We are curious to know, what ARE the rules for good design and surviving a pandemic?

AK: Standouts would be as little design as possible and hand sanitiser. For the rest you’ll have to read the zine!

Zines are a great medium to get quirky and weird with your designs. What are some ways you brought that playfulness into this project?

AK: We used a playful tone with the text content, quoting from Dieter Rams and the World Health Organisation. We slipped some Wikipedia in there for good measure. We also used a very expressive display face for the Twenty Twenty on the front and back cover, it looks more like a graphic element than a typographic one and the way the typography and illustrations collide on the cover makes for a surprising and playful synergy.

What do you think are the key ingredients of a great collaboration?

KM: Teamwork, respect, and an open-minded attitude.

Do you have any hot tips for other designers looking to create a book or zine? (Only spicy tips accepted)

AK: Spicy tip for a zine would be keep it loose!

Keep it spontaneous and just get it out there.

It’s tempting as a designer to be very precious with our work and try for perfection, but actually sometimes it’s good to just push the button and make the thing.

What do you think makes passion projects so important for designers at every level of the game?

KM: It’s an amazing opportunity to hit refresh and test new styles or concepts that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to tackle with a client. You can be experimental and learn new things, work with interesting people, and create new work that expresses your style.

Can you share some projects or designs that have caught your eye which were also created in response to the pandemic?

KM: In response to the pandemic Lennarts & Bruijn’s created a positive poster platform: Stay Sane, Stay Safe

And lastly, what can we expect from the next Melvin—Dennis Productions?

AK: We are currently working on another print project to celebrate our new class!

Huge thanks to Annette and Kim for walking us through their process for Class of Covid. Here’s how you can check out what these legends have going on right now: Keep up with Annette by visiting her website and following her on Instagram. Stay updated with what Kim is creating by heading over to her website and giving her a follow on Instagram.

You might also enjoy reading our recent Case Study with Annette for a client project she did through her experimental publishing imprint, Dossier Industries.

Meet the rest of our amazing Shillington teachers and team from around the world!

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