- Associated Press - Monday, May 15, 2017

RACINE, Wis. (AP) - Downtown businessman Tim Baumstark said art was a refuge for him as a youth and the pathway to his advertising and design business. Now he’s offering young people a way to explore graphic design and related fields to see where it may take them.

Baumstark, owner of the advertising and design company Boxhead Design, recently opened the doors to his newly created Racine Creative Center, The Journal Times (http://bit.ly/2pUH9e8 ) reported. He said its main mission is to show young people what a “creative career path” looks like. The website highlights such potential career areas as graphic design, animation, website design, video/film, architecture, 3-D modeling and motion graphics.

RCC is a nonprofit, although it is available for design professionals to rent by the hour. For students, RCC will be a membership ranging from free to $50, according to family resources, said Baumstark, the executive director. There will also be free, open-house-style Saturday sessions for young people.

Baumstark has his office on the floor above RCC, and he said the new center’s location is also right because it’s in a business district. “It’s more of a career path setting than an educational setting,” he said. And its visibility from Monument Square will showcase RCC, he added.

Baumstark equipped the 1,500-square-foot space with furniture, computers and also got some operational funding with a one-time, $123,303 Youth Aids allocation from Racine County.

“Youth Aids are prevention and early intervention dollars for at-risk youth,” explained Racine County Chief of Staff M.T. Boyle. She said that state money is funneled into the county’s Department of Youth and Families Delinquency Unit.

“We wanted to invest in the start-up of Racine Creative Center as another avenue for our youth to develop employment skills in a healthy outlet,” Boyle said.

The center has six iMacs, “which most design students have,” Baumstark said, and a Microsoft Surface Studio touch-screen computer. “A lot of people don’t have this equipment,” he remarked.

At one end of the long, rectangular room is a large, wall-mounted monitor, and one entire long wall is all pinboard and whiteboard. Overall, Baumstark said of RCC’s environment: “I didn’t want it to be too much of a school set-up, even though it’s kind of like a college.”

He hopes to keep RCC funded with sponsorships, more grants and revenue from professionals renting time there.

RCC students will have a variety of opportunities including workplace tours and designing posters and T-shirts, Baumstark said.

But the main activity he laid out for them is a structured, four-month pursuit that will take them through many types of professional-type work experiences: the shoe campaign. This past weekend, each of his students was to pick out a pair of shoes, then design an entire advertising campaign for them.

“We’ll keep it simple,” Baumstark said.

Students will learn how to create a logo for their shoes, then posters with text and an image, a four-page brochure, do photography of the shoes, a two-page spread ad for print, graphics for the shoebox and a one-page website - as well as learning the appropriate industry terminology. They’ll also have the chance to produce a video for their campaign.

“So they’re learning the process I do every day,” Baumstark said. “And then we’ll throw roadblocks at them along the way.”

Students will make their final presentation in late August, with family members welcome to see the results.

“It will be theirs to keep, a portfolio piece,” Baumstark said.

The youths will get one more thing from their campaigns: At the end they may take their shoes home.

“I didn’t have this opportunity as a kid,” Baumstark said. “And we have a lot of talented kids.

“Even if a family just wants to look into it and they find out the kid doesn’t want to go into graphic design, I’ve accomplished something.”

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Information from: The Journal Times, http://www.journaltimes.com

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