Graphic Design major Courtney Skolka ’21 thought her recent Visual Communications project wouldn’t go any further than the classroom. However, after sharing her design with Morris Animal Refuge in Philadelphia, they’ve collaborated to launch a fundraising campaign this holiday season.
Until Monday, Dec. 20, Skolka’s design that features an illustration of a dog or cat wearing a face mask is available for purchase through Morris Animal Refuge. Proceeds from the shirts and sweatshirts go to the rescue, which is one of the oldest animal rescues in America. Launched in 1858, Morris Animal Refuge is committed to adoption, education, and care, and never turns an animal in need away.
“We were supposed to focus on a social issue or a problem that aligns with that nonprofit organization, so I focused on adopting pets within a global pandemic,” said Skolka about why the design featured a dog or cat wearing a face mask. “I know that at the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of shelters were struggling with either getting their pets out for adoption. Then, I also heard that once people adopted pets in the pandemic and then they started going back to work. They would just bring them back to the shelters, so I thought it was an important issue that is prevalent.”
Skolka said that the project was originally just for a grade, but that Adjunct Professor of Visual and Performing Arts Christian Patchell encouraged her to reach out to Morris Animal Rescue to see if they could use it.
“I truly love this collaboration on two fronts,” said Patchell. “One, [Skolka] has donated her time and expertise to a charity she believes in, and second, she has collaborated with a client and has renewed confidence in her work and its value.”
The design wasn’t the only suggestion Skolka had for Morris Animal Refuge though. As part of the campaign project assigned by Patchell, students had to develop engagement opportunities around their designs. For Skolka, she developed a social media campaign called Passionate Pet Pals, which builds awareness and community around the brand. Participants, who would be selected by Morris Animal Refuge as brand ambassadors, would get stickers with her design on it and be encouraged to post on social media using the #PassionatePetPals hashtag and share stories of their volunteer or professional work with the refuge, or their adoption stories. While this hasn’t been picked up yet, Skolka is still having conversations with the animal refuge about it.
“I really just hope that people gain more awareness and learn about the effects these actions could have on the animals and the shelters,” said Skolka about returning animals to a shelter. “Because it is a problem, not only in a pandemic but around the holiday season as well.”