Students in Derek Witucki’s University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Typography class are redesigning signs at Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center.
Reflection Riding is a nonprofit botanical garden and historical site located near Lookout Mountain. It is home to a 317-acre arboretum, 15 miles of trails, live animals and a treehouse.
It also has signage containing information, but signs have been damaged due to weather, the sun’s ultraviolet rays, limbs falling off trees and regular wear-and-tear.
In addition, the nature facility wanted to modernize the signage.
For example, the arboretum has signs on trees with scientific terminology that most people don’t understand. One current marker proudly displays the words “liquidambar styraciflua” and “altingiaceae,” fancy words for a sweetgum tree and a small family of flowering plants.
“This has been a great learning experience for them,” said Witucki of his graphic design students at UTC. “What makes this experiential course so valuable is that it does mirror what’s going to happen in a real job.”
His project, Witucki said, deals with what is referred to as environmental graphics, or putting graphic design typography into the real world.
The class was tasked with creating an interactive experience that was interesting for adults and children with an emphasis on creating photo opportunities that could be captured for social media.
The 13 students in Witucki’s class also had to deal with the realities of a COVID semester, splitting into two groups with alternating in-person days and collaborating via Zoom.