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KCAD Students Capture Spirit of LaughFest in 2nd Annual T-Shirt Design Contest

Posted February 19, 2015 in StudentPublic

Gilda’s LaughFest returns to West Michigan next month, and to celebrate the occasion KCAD has again collaborated with the annual comedy festival by letting students get down to the funny business of design.

For the second year in a row, LaughFest offered KCAD students the opportunity to create original t-shirt designs to be sold throughout the event’s run from March 5-15. The challenge: to encapsulate not just the humor of LaughFest, but the heart of it as well.

“LaughFest is all about showcasing the power of laughter and the importance of emotional health,” said Wendy Wigger, president of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. “We were looking for designs that spoke to that, as well as to how important this event is to our region and our community.”

Students could submit as many designs as they wanted, but each design could use no more than four colors and had to accurately reflect the diversity of the festival’s performers, organizers, and audience. Seven KCAD students submitted a total of thirteen designs in the competition, but in the end four designs rose to the top. LaughFest representatives chose the final four designs, all of which will be turned into limited edition t-shirts, while a popular online vote determined the scholarship amount each designer would receive.

Graphic Design sophomore Sakino Tomiura had two of her designs selected, one of which took first place and a $400 scholarship, while the other won third place and a $200 scholarship. Her first place design featured a line-up of caricatures that each had LaughFest’s signature smile logo in place of their heads. The diversity of the caricatures reflected the fact that LaughFest has a brand of humor for everyone, regardless of age, personality, ethnicity, or worldview.

design by Sakino Tomiura1st place design by Sakimo Tomiura

Tomiura's third place design played off of the festival’s impact on the local community, featuring Grand Rapids staples like the Calder sculpture, a Rapid bus, and the JW Marriott Hotel, as well as citizens young and old brought together by humor.

design by Skimo Tomiura3rd place design by Sakimo Tomiura

Illustration Senior senior Megan Janowiak won second place and a $300 scholarship with a design that combined written expressions of laughter into the shape of the state of Michigan. The design speaks volumes about the reach of LaughFest, which last year attracted people from 35 different US states, Canada, and even the United Kingdom.


design by Megan Janowiak 2nd place design by Megan Janowiak

Digital Media senior Abby Archambault took fourth place and a $100 scholarship with a design that cleverly celebrated both the festival’s commitment to diversity and its five-year anniversary. Using the tagline, ‘Five Years of Smiles,’ Archambault’s design makes a powerful statement with a simple human hand composed of different skin tones.


design by Abby Archambault4th place design by Abby Archambault

LaughFest's reach is likely to continue growing as the festival moves forward, something KCAD Director of Student Engagement Nicole DeKraker says makes this collaboration even more valuable for students.

“These designs will be seen by so many different people, and that reach is something that is really powerful for developing artists and designers to experience. We’re thrilled to be able to give our students another opportunity to work with such a great organization, and we hope that our collaboration with LaughFest continues well into the future.”

For more information on LaughFest 2015, visit laughfestgr.org.