Hewitt News

Hewitt Goes to Sesame Street
Stephanie Dore, Digital Arts and Photography Teacher and Coordinator of Experiential Initiatives 

Beyond learning the elements and principles of design and the technical skills required to use design software, one of the major components of Hewitt’s upper school Graphic Design course is learning about the differences between fine art and design for commercial purposes. With each new project, Graphic Design students discover that design is art with a specific function, often created for a specific client.  

This semester, Graphic Design students are focusing on the field of illustration. After analyzing professionally designed cartoons including Minnie Mouse, Susie Carmichael from The Rugrats, Mulan, and Velma Dinkley from Scooby-Doo, students were challenged to create their own cartoon character. As they developed their characters, students considered aspects of their own identity, including gender, religion, ethnicity, and family structure. A student in the class explained, "I know I wouldn't be the same without my love for technology. I used my cartoon's body, stance, and accessories to portray the things that make me who I am."  

Equipped with their knowledge of graphic design and cartoons, this October three upper school Graphic Design students attended the 12th annual Teen Design Fair at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, where they caught the attention of graphic designers from Sesame Workshop. Impressed with Hewitt students’ design knowledge and excited about their work on cartoon characters, the Sesame Workshop designers invited the girls to tour their art department. In the words of one student, “The Sesame Workshop art department was one of the brightest and happiest offices I have ever seen. Everywhere I looked there was a stuffed plush Elmo or an amazing drawing of Cookie Monster and Big Bird.”

At Sesame Workshop, students learned about the different areas of design that help make Sesame Street a household name. Toy, web, print, and even muppet designers stopped to share their work and design processes with the girls. A highlight of the visit included connecting with Digital Production Coordinator Jessica Hertz, a Hewitt alumna from the Class of 2007! Of the visit, a student remarked, “I was surprised by how much work goes into producing each product. So much thought goes into the simple, iconic details of each character.” 

The girls who visited Sesame Workshop also shared their experience with the rest of the Graphic Design class. Using the wisdom they gained from expert designers, the class is now designing a second character and a scene in which that character reveals her sense of purpose and ability to make an impact on the community around her.