The Agency stepping up to fill a creative role in the community and beyond

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Thursday, February 17th, 2022

An initiative that began last fall with four students has taken off this semester, preparing PCA&D students for real-world work with branding and advertising clients.

The Agency is a new in-house creative services program launched this academic year as an in-house internship site. It provides “real-time business experience with real consequences” says Bill Dussinger, Graphic Design/Illustration faculty and Director of The Agency. Now eleven students strong, The Agency solicits projects from both internal and external clients and puts students firmly in charge of developing branding and advertising solutions.

Just this semester — so far  — The Agency has been tasked with designing and printing the Senior Exhibition catalog and promotional materials; two overflow projects from the annual 12-hour Designathon marathon; support materials for PCA&D Career Day in April; a project with Spanish American Civic Association in Lancaster; and materials for Commencement 2022. “If we have any slower periods,” Dussinger says, “we are always thinking of amazing swag to promote PCA&D.”

The students, who receive internship credit for their work with The Agency, are immersed in “much more than a regular class situation,” Dussinger adds. Clients, whether they are from PCA&D or the community, “are counting on the students to come up with amazing, professional work that will actually be used. The students get business experience, presentation experience, public speaking experience, collaboration experience — as well as the art, design, and making experience. This is real.”

Starting work on an Agency project, February 2022.

Starting work on an Agency project, February 2022.

“I would have to say my biggest takeaway from my involvement in The Agency is learning how to conduct myself in a professional environment,” says Paige Bowermaster ’23. The Graphic Design major was a member of The Agency last fall and has returned to share her experience this spring. “Last semester we presented our campaign ‘PAy it forward’ at the DEIC contest run by America250PA,” Bowermaster says. “While speaking at that event, one of the coordinators recognized my public speaking abilities and reached out to me a week later. She offered me a paid internship with the Commonwealth as their Graphic Design and Social Media intern. I have been working for them two days a week on top of my classes.

“If it were not for the Agency I would not have gotten the opportunity to be seen by people in the professional world this early in my career as an artist and designer.”

Along with Bowermaster,  The Agency’s current student roster includes Sadie Berndt ’24, Illustration; Gobin Dahal ’24, Graphic Design; Hannah Groff ’24, Illustration; Sami Halfpenny ’23, Illustration; Cleo Kendrick ’24, Graphic Design; Liv Kenney ’24, Illustration; Madison Milewski ’24, Illustration; Frankie Reed ’23, Graphic Design; Jasmyn Stokes ’23, Illustration; and Austin Taylor ’24, Graphic Design. Students in any PCA&D major are welcome to join.

“For me,” Dussinger says, “it is rewarding to see the students take real interest and ownership in The Agency. From team-building exercises to brainstorming what The Agency is about and then working on actual projects in a professional manner, the collaboration between the students is fun to see.

“The juniors are stepping up and helping the sophomores in coming up with great ideas,” Dussinger adds. “I am so proud of the professionalism these students exude and I am very pleased with the quality of work they produce. Plus, says Dussinger, who also owns award-winning graphic design studio Penny Lane Graphics, I get to let the students know about my experiences and how they relate to problems and experiences they are going through.”

Bringing The Agency into fuller connection with the community, both College and beyond, is just one of Dussinger’s goals.

“I would like to see The Agency grow to keep supporting the College as well as supporting more outside clients like non-profits, small start-up businesses, and events around Lancaster,” he says. “I’d like to see representation of more majors from the PCA&D community. I’d like to have field trips to creative businesses in Lancaster County for students to see for themselves the great work coming out of this area.

“I’d like the students to feel as though they are a real part of the creative community of Lancaster and beyond.”