News

June 12, 2009

Designing Woman

Senior art director Jena Newman ’04 works with companies like Subway, Dannon, and Perdue

When Jena Newman ’04 leaves her office for the day, she doesn’t necessarily take work home with her. But sometimes, to her delight, she can’t avoid encountering it.

“I am constantly able to see the work my team and I have created,” says Newman, senior art director at Catapult Marketing in Westport, Conn. “I can open a Sunday paper and see one of our ads. When I go to the supermarket, I can see our designs on the shelf next to the products. I can visit friends in various cities and point out something in a Subway Restaurant that I helped create weeks earlier. That is amazingly gratifying for me.”

At Catapult, Newman oversees multiple projects, manages a team of art directors, and perhaps most importantly, sells ideas. She also brainstorms for new projects, maintains current ones, designs layouts, and presents her agency’s work to clients, which include companies like Dannon and Perdue.

“In most advertising/marketing agencies, there is a team of people known in the industry as ‘creatives’ who work on designing various materials for print and the web,” she explains. “That could mean anything from ads and brochures, to displays, billboards, and web sites. Before you see an ad, it might have gone through several rounds of designs and dozens of approvals.”

One recent ad involved a photo shoot to showcase a new chicken product. The final shot featured a dinner plate with a grilled chicken breast, red potatoes, and grilled asparagus.

“The photo looked delicious, and equally important was that it looked easy to make,” she explains. “While the final ad is all a consumer sees, there is a lot that goes into getting that shot. Everything from the fork and napkin to the number of grill marks on the chicken is a conscious decision. Each piece of parsley and fleck of pepper is intentional.”

There is a whole team of people who make a food shot possible, including photographers, stylists, and art directors.

“If you look at an ad and think about how juicy the chicken looks, or how refreshing that yogurt smoothie would be, and as a result you are motivated to buy that product, then I did my job,” she says.

Newman believes her undergraduate years taught her to think quickly and creatively.

“What Lafayette did to help me be successful is not something I learned in any one class,” says the art graduate. “Lafayette gave me diverse sources of inspiration and taught me how to communicate my thoughts effectively. Those skills are invaluable because this industry is built upon ideas, communication, and confidence.”

Lafayette’s small size and undergraduate-only focus gave her the personal attention and opportunities to expand her studies and succeed. Working as an EXCEL research assistant with Lew Minter, director of the art department’s media lab in the Williams Visual Arts Building, Newman assisted with the setup and maintenance of computer hardware for video editing and 3-D animation, worked on various projects, including a series of pieces based on underwater images such as a calendar and other accessories, and made a DVD to promote visiting artist Stephen Antonakos. She also undertook an independent research project in computer animation.

“I am proud to say over my four years at Lafayette, Lew became my mentor and friend,” she says. “He gave me the tools I needed as a designer and the opportunities I needed to create work that I am truly proud of.”

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