Matthew Daniel's designs for the Jane Fonda Center
used "urban" graphics and silhouettes
to appeal to teens across the country
An internship that makes a difference
By Lauren Highfill
Most interns are pleased when the work they do for an organization is used in-house or in the local community. However, visual arts student Matthew Daniel had the unique opportunity to work on a nation-wide campaign with a social message as an intern with the Jane Fonda Center at Emory University in the fall semester.
Daniel worked on the Teen Health series, a campaign that uses visual and textual elements in the form of PowerPoint presentations to convey important health information to teenagers. The series has grown from a collaboration between the Jane Fonda Center at Emory and the Research Center at the Morehouse School of Medicine.
Before Daniel became a part of the project, there were preexisting presentations for the Teen Health series with topics ranging from choosing birth control methods to dealing with mood changes. However, Daniel said, “They wanted the presentations to be revamped to appeal more visually to 13- to 17-year-olds.” Daniel redesigned a total of 11 presentations that will be available in doctors’ offices and clinics across the country. “The Centers for Disease Control has even expressed interest in having access to them,” said Daniel.
Daniel studied the preexisting presentations and referenced magazines that target teens before beginning the redesign. This research gave him an understanding of what health information was important to convey and what design elements appealed to teens.
“The slideshows had to appeal to multiple demographics,” said Daniel, “so, for example, there couldn’t be any reference to race or religion.” To address this issue, while still keeping the audience engaged, “I used silhouettes in my design.” Daniel also realized that “a lot of the young adults who are expected to be viewing these presentations are from the inner-city, so I used a lot of urban-type backgrounds and filled them with textures and paint splotches and colors to create visually interesting contrasts.”
Through his research, Daniel also discovered that “many of the people who will be looking at these presentations probably haven’t had extensive education on sex, or how to talk to their parents, or how to deal with mood swings. They could be coming to this information for the first time so it was important for me to get the message across in a way that’s visually engaging.”
By the end of the internship, Daniel had spent more than 120 hours creating these presentations and said that “I really did this job to the best of my ability and I enjoyed it.” Emory Professor Dr. Marion Howard worked directly with Daniel and recently showed his work at the National Prevention and Health Promotion Summit in Washington, D.C.
“When I presented the presentations, people were very interested and very excited about them,” said Howard. “Matthew did a marvelous job. We really appreciate his talent.”
Daniel found out about this internship through Associate Professor of Art Jeanne Sperry and was interested in the opportunity to be a part of a national campaign for an important social issue. “What I found very exciting through my work in the internship,” Daniel said, "is that I can reach so many people and help educate teens.”