The words “This will be a challenge” don’t scare Philippe Badin. Trying to find creative solutions to his clients’ problems is one of the aspects he loves most about his career as a multimedia designer in the marketing and design department at the University of Michigan (UM).
“Curiously, my favorite projects to work on have been the most challenging ones; those my clients told me were so complex, they weren’t sure how to approach them,” said Badin. “The human aspect is pure fascination for me—listening to people, thinking through the process and observing how people react once the project is revealed.”
As a multimedia designer, Badin provides a range of communication services to the UM campus community. His position encompasses print, web and other types of marketing initiatives. As part of one project, Badin was approached by a department that wanted to launch a campaign to prevent alcoholism on campus.
“The topic was serious, and it was crucial that we developed a powerful message,” Badin explained. “We ended up creating a series of posters for a campaign entitled ‘Safe and Legal,’ which has been used now to address other issues. So far, it’s been really successful.
“It made me proud when students stole some of the posters, and we had to re-run a series. I also felt a sense of professional accomplishment when my work achieved the positive result the campus was hoping for. Wasn’t it Massimo Vignelli who once said, ‘Being a graphic designer is having a social duty?’ He is so right!”
As part of another project, the University asked Badin to help with the rebranding of its Center for Russian Studies to the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies that became an umbrella encompassing three other centers.
“This was the most challenging project ever and still is!” exclaimed Badin. “It required a tremendous amount of communications, understanding and baby steps in the process of developing the brand. I’m still working on the visual communications pieces. The big news is the award I recently received for my work (CASE V Award for excellence in Design). It makes everyone feel really good!
"Working at UM has been amazing. However, I consider myself extremely lucky that I had the opportunity to work for a museum at the beginning of my career. I accomplished and learned a great deal. The audience was very different so it affected the approach of my work."
Working for one of the biggest universities in the country has forced Badin to “think differently,” but he continues to utilize the tools his education at CCS helped him acquire.
“Everything I learned as a student at CCS continues to have an impact,” said Badin. “I try to use the same approach I learned at CCS while working on projects. I believe it makes all the difference!
“Putting my creative talents to the service of an institution is, I think, another interesting aspect of my career. It’s working with a different design language. And I wouldn’t completely grasp the aspect of my work without having taken semiotics classes at CCS. As a designer, it’s key to understand the power of symbols and images as well as social behaviors.
“As an alumnus, I’ve regularly been asked to share my experiences with senior graphic design students. Each time I tell them not to be afraid to communicate. It’s important to establish a dialogue. Be engaged! Be passionate! In short, what I want to share about my career is that we can’t forget that we have to be thinkers— great thinkers— about everything we do. Also, never undervalue your work in your portfolio. It’s what you do, who you are and what you want to do for your living after all!”
In his spare time, Badin is an active board member for the Ann Arbor Boychoir, a non-profit organization. He also finds photography to be a great source of inspiration that allows him a moment to “be with myself.”
- Employer: University of Michigan
- Title: Multimedia Designer
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