Watkins Recognized with Three National Awards

After an ambitious transformation in its brand and marketing, the college receives high honors.

Micah Atkinson, Watkins College of Art

Over the last year, Watkins College of Art has undergone a major transformation in its brand and marketing. The culmination of these efforts was recognized with three major international awards in June and July.

On Friday, June 8, 2018, the Watkins lookbook — used for admissions recruitment, fundraising, and more — was juried into the Communication Arts 2018 Design Annual. This is the 59th year this prestigious journal — produced for visual communication professionals (designers, art directors, design agencies, illustrators, and photographers) — has held this competition. Of the 3,984 entries submitted, only 131 were accepted, or 3.3 percent of entries. More than 25,000 copies of the annual will be distributed internationally showcasing Watkins’s work. Judges this year included Rafael Esquer, founder, Alfalfa Studio, New York, NY; Dawn Hancock, founder, Firebelly Design, Chicago, IL; Lindsay Mannix, principle, Polygraph, Washington, DC; Stéphane Monnet, founder, Monnet Design, Toronto, ON, Canada; and Christopher Simmons, principal, mine, San Francisco, CA.

And on June 13, 2018, Watkins’s new website was awarded the highest Circle of Excellence Gold Award from CASE (Council for the Advancement of Secondary Education), the premiere association for higher education institutions worldwide.

For 2018, the Circle of Excellence program received 3,204 entries for consideration in nearly 100 categories from 676 institutions and affiliated organizations located worldwide. Peer professionals as well as professionals from outside of education judged the entries and awarded nearly 350 awards (11 percent) to more than 190 institutions in 11 countries.

There were only 100 gold awards given (or 3.1 percent), and the Watkins site was one of them. In its category alone, Watkins competed against 64 entrants. Past Gold winners in this category include Hamilton College, Johns Hopkins University, Bucknell University, and the Fashion Institute of Technology.

In July, the lookbook and website were also honored by the University and College Designers Association (the UCDA), which is the first and only association for professionals involved in the creation of visual communications for educational institutions. UCDA has more than 1,000 members. It awarded the Watkins lookbook its highest Gold Award in its print category; the website was given the Excellence Award for its digital category.

“These awards represent and reward the bold, forward-thinking innovations we have made in our communications and marketing,” said Watkins President J. Kline. “I would like to recognize our director of communication, Brendan Tapley, for strategizing, conceptualizing, and leading these wholesale transformations and at such an intensive pace. For a small institution like Watkins to compete at these levels and win their highest honors demonstrates not only the creative power of the college but also the power of a Watkins education.”

On these award-winning projects, Watkins collaborated with the Boston design agency, Stoltze; Boston development firm, Pixelslam; and user-experience expert Deborah Levinson.