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Book designer, typographer and author John D. Berry famously noted: “Only when a design fails does it draw attention to itself. When it succeeds, it’s invisible.”
Piedmont Technical College (PTC) commercial art student Claire Manuel rather exemplifies that premise. The reserved yet massively talented 20-year-old is a rising rock star who is most comfortable working anonymously from behind the scenes. She’s so good, she’s practically invisible.
"Claire came to Piedmont Tech with unrecognized potential. Shy, a little withdrawn, and unassuming, she was the proverbial diamond in the rough,” said Kendall Adams, PTC commercial art program director. “With a little attention, some new skills, and a newfound level of confidence, Claire has become much more polished and professional in her general demeanor, her attitude and most certainly in her skills. She is that artist who will continue to grow and challenge her peers in art, photography and design."
Even before she graduates, Claire has added a notable client to her portfolio ― The Greenwood Promise, a last-dollar scholarship program for graduates who live primarily in Greenwood School Districts 50, 51 and 52. The organization is a happy customer and is now actively using her logo design.
“They just wanted a revamped logo, really,” Claire said. “I came up with about three or four designs that I really liked. They picked one and asked for a couple of small changes. That was it.”
Claire begins her creative process making sketches until they start to transform into a design that pleases her. “I just go with the flow, whatever my brain tells me to do,” she said. “I take into account balance, unity and movement, but I feel that the most important element is the use of emphasis. I always make sure that there is one component that draws in the viewers’ eye and makes them want to look at the rest of the design.”
In addition to her course load at PTC, Claire also has a Federal Work Study job in the college’s Marketing and Public Relations Department. Department Director Russell Martin said that Claire is the type of worker for whom no job is too small.
“Claire has a fantastic work ethic,” he said. “She is always willing to try something new and unfamiliar. Nothing seems to intimidate her. She’s a very can-do person.”
Working in the college’s marketing department has opened Claire’s eyes to roles she might play outside of a freelance business or creative agency.
“I really love it. It has made me really want to maybe work at PTC one day if the stars align,” she said. “I have learned a lot about graphic design and everything that they do in marketing. I also love to travel to the other campuses and take pictures, get my hands dirty, and get actual real-world experience. And I don’t mind doing any grunt work.”
Claire says that, under the tutelage of the college’s Commercial Art Program, she has gained confidence and an even greater appreciation for industry professionalism.
“Kendall Adams has done so much for me. He brought me out of my shell,” she said. “He is a very good teacher, and he makes sure you understand everything. He won’t rush you through. I ask a million questions, and he is really good about it. I appreciate both him and (instructor) Mike Beckham a lot. They want us as artists to go out in the workforce and be successful.”
Even after being honored for academic excellence this spring, Claire remains low-key.
“I like for my work to speak for itself,” she said. “This can sometimes hinder my work when it comes to getting new clients because, if you don’t brag on yourself, most people won’t want to hire you. However, I’ve learned to have a happy balance between being reserved and being proud of my work. I am confident in my skills.”
For more information about PTC’s Commercial Art Program, visit www.ptc.edu/commercialart.