Design Students for Hire

Does your non-profit need design help? UH design students are standing by.

Students in the Design Workshop created and produced this annual report for the Hawaii Environmental Council.

Photo: Brad Goda

If practice makes perfect, the students in the Design Workshop at UH Manoa’s Graphic Design Program are well on their way, honing their skills by taking on real-world projects for local non-profit organizations. Founded in 2008, the workshop and its students have completed projects for the State of Hawaii Environmental Council, Manoa Alcohol Project, the UH School of Architecture and the Hawaii Nature Center, creating everything from public service campaigns to visual identity programs. They’ve excelled, too, winning local and national design awards for three of these projects.

The workshop has had from 10 to 16 students, working in an environment that feels more like a professional studio than a classroom. The students are working toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts, as opposed to a regular Bachelor of Arts, so are “our best and work hard for the opportunity to participate as well as in the workshop itself,” says Anne Bush, professor and chair of design. “Students also assume a leadership role. Each project has a team leader who organizes meetings outside of class time. Students help with the printing specifications and learn about the bidding process as well as production. The goal, ultimately, is to give students professional experience as well as to produce great design for the community.”

Here’s how it works: in the fall, the workshop solicits letters of interest through the Hawaii Association of Non-Profit Organizations newsletter. By Nov. 30th, interested non-profits submit all the details of the work they need—scope of the work, budget, deadline, etc.—and, in December, the faculty chooses two projects for the students to take on in the following spring semester. “The Design Workshop is open to a wide range of non-profits and projects, including visual identity and branding, signage, brochures, catalogues and books,” and more, says Bush. The only exception? As a state-run school, UH can’t produce work for religious groups.

Faculty will supervise the students’ work. Non-profits will get professional quality design, at a reasonable price—the workshop does not charge for the work, but does welcome donations to support the workshop and the students.

For more information on the program, contact Anne Bush at 956-7646 or