YSU celebrates banners-to-bags project

Students at Youngstown State University who are in the graphic design and fashion merchandising programs are getting the chance to take old banners and create bags for a competition. Pictured are a few of the entries: a messenger bag using the "Proud past, promising future" slogan, and a purse.

These are among the bags designed as part of the YSU Banner Bags Design Competition.

Decorative banners that once hung from light posts and elsewhere on and around the Youngstown State University campus are being turned into designer tote, messenger and other bags in a program called the YSU Banner Bag Design Competition.

Groups of students in YSU’s Fashion Merchandising and Graphic Design programs are collaborating to take the vinyl banners and repurpose them into fashion pieces.

Nanette Lepore, YSU graduate and now a world-renowned fashion designer, will judge the entries at an invitation-only event in the Bliss Hall Theater Lobby on Saturday, May 19. (Lepore will receive an honorary degree earlier in the day at YSU’s spring commencement.) The winning entry could then be mass-produced and given away as a donor incentive by the YSU Office of University Development.

“This is a great way for fashion and graphic design students to channel their creative skills, contribute to campus sustainability efforts and enhance their resumes,” said YSU Annual Giving Coordinator Jacquelyn Daniel-Johnson, who got the idea from a similar project at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass.

Daniel-Johnson said the banners, currently sitting in a campus warehouse, cannot be recycled. “They are just taking up space right now,” she said. “We want to keep them from being deposited in a landfill and instead funnel them back out into the community.”

Student teams will submit their designs, which include everything from cell phone covers and iPad cases to totes and duffle bags.

Once Lepore chooses the winning design, Super Stitches, a local commercial sewing business, will produce the product.

Daniel-Johnson said she hopes the contest can be held annually. “The students have been really excited about it,” she said. Banners measuring 30 feet by 80 feet on the towers of Stambaugh Stadium are set to be replaced soon. Those banners could be used in future banners-to-bags projects.

Funding for the competition award came from a donor whose daughter graduated from the graphic design program in 2010.

Jean Engle, assistant director of Marketing and Communications and coordinator of various campus banner projects, said the concept is wonderful. “The current banners were up four years and have done their duty,” Engle said. “If this project works out, maybe we can reclaim the large, vinyl billboards around town in the future and repurpose those as well.”

About Youngstown State University
Youngstown State University is a comprehensive emerging urban research university that offers over 14,000 students more than 135 undergraduate and graduate programs backed by a strong tradition of teaching, scholarship and public service. As a major educational and economic development resource in the region, YSU is known for its focus on academic research and creative programs that transform its students into successful professionals, scholars and leaders. Located in the heart of the Tech Belt between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, YSU provides opportunities for students to actively participate with accomplished faculty, often in one-on-one settings, on advanced research and creative collaborations. The beautiful 145-acre campus includes high-tech classrooms, state-of-the-art labs and performance facilities, a variety of on-campus housing options and recreational facilities among the best in the nation.