Design class publishes “512stew”

Eleanor Dearman

The entire design class of 2015 will be published authors.

What started out as a class assignment for “Images in Communication” has evolved into a semester-long project to publish a book, titled “512stew,” featuring the 18 students’ design aesthetics. 

“Part of what we’re supposed to learn is how to take the world around us and be able to develop it and create it into something someone else can see and understand,” said Gabriela Velez, senior design student and “512stew” editor. “We got really excited and decided that instead of just the 18 of us having [the book], why don’t we make it a big deal?”

Set to publish Dec. 5, “512stew” gives an overview of different elements of Austin through the eyes of the designers. Each student picked a piece of Austin culture and represented it in a 12- to 20-page spread.

“It’s more than just a tourist-y ‘here’s a map of the best restaurants and biggest tourist attractions in Austin’ book,’” design junior Edward Rendon said. “It’s a much deeper look into it.”

The book covers local subjects, such as Austin murals, coffee shops and transportation, as well as broader concepts, such as politics, nature and religion in the city. 

Senior design student Laura Levisay decided to take her love for her dog and translate it into an examination of Austin’s dog park culture. Levisay put out labeled boxes asking community members to “share their dog park story” and placed a chalk board in Zilker Park for people to write why they bring their dogs to the park. 

“I took my dog to a park in west Austin, and I noticed while I was there that the people in the park knew each other, and they knew each other’s kids and everything,” Levisay said. “So I started to wonder if the park was more than just a dog park, if it was a community space.”

For design junior and “512stew” publisher, Sarah Micheletti, who dealt with more political subjects, talking to Austinites was key for gaining insight into controversial issues. 

“You can read all the articles you want online, but they could be completely different from what the majority of people are feeling,” Micheletti said. “It was really helpful to actually talk to people, and not just people I knew.”

Photography allowed Velez to capture images of popular spots such as Lake Travis and Waller Creek. 

“I took a picture of Waller Creek with all of the garbage on its sides, and it reminded me of all the diagrams you see of clogged arteries,” Velez said. “So then I drew the clogged artery and kind of superimposed them on each other to make that comparison.” 

Publishing “512stew” taught the students about the cooperation required in professional careers. 

“Whether you go to a design firm after college or a company and you’re just one of their designers, you have to compromise with other people,” Micheletti said. “You may love how something looks and think it is great, and then other people are like, ‘This isn’t working so much.’”

To raise money to publish “512stew,” the students created an Indiegogo page to raise $5,000 by Saturday. 

“I’ve been sharing it with my friends, showing them the pages and stuff, because a lot of people don’t know what we do,” Micheletti said. “A lot of people don’t even know we have a design degree. We’ve put this whole semester into it. We’ve put our personal selves into it. We just want to show everyone what we can do.”