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The “Brilliance” of Creativity: Young artist with autism designs new 88Nine t-shirt

88Nine Radio Milwaukee has a membership drive each spring, with the most tangible highlight being an exclusive t-shirt designed by local artists for new members. The station collaborated with Islands of Brilliance for 2019’s iconic creation.

Membership Manager Maggie Corry works with local artists each year to produce a new member t-shirt, and selected design must achieve three objectives: 1. Create something special for contributing members to thank them for their support, 2. Capture the “feel” and brand of Radio Milwaukee, and 3. Allow the artists to express their individual vision and interpretation of what Radio Milwaukee means to them.

“I’m always impressed with the final product, but this spring I’m particularly excited about our shirt. The process, and ultimately the design, epitomizes the spirit of collaboration, community-building, and creativity that make me proud to be a Radio Milwaukee employee and a contributing member,” said Corry. “This spring we partnered with Islands of Brilliance (IOB), a Milwaukee nonprofit that builds programs and learning experiences developed specifically for children and young adults on the autism spectrum, to design our exclusive shirt.”

Islands of Brilliance (IOB) utilizes project-based learning and one-on-one mentorship with students to grow their intrinsic capabilities and practice communication, increasing their likelihood of independence as adults. IOB students also leave with intangibles that are far broader and important, like a collaborative experience, sharing and presentation opportunities, conversation, friendship, and a sense of accomplishment.

The design selected for 2019 features original typography using instruments and audio equipment, and was created by an IOB student named Garrett. He is passionate about music and thrilled to be able to work on a project for 88Nine. He plays piano and composes his own musical arrangements, and his favorite place to hang out in Milwaukee is the Art Museum.

Garrett loves his time at Islands of Brilliance because he learns a lot, gets to work on fun projects, and can hang out with great people. To integrate IOB’s program and the design needs from 88Nine, co-founders Mark and Margaret Fairbanks created a very structured and detailed process.

EXPLORATORY: Nine IOB students toured Radio Milwaukee to learn about the organization, ask questions about the listening and membership audience and brainstorm potential themes for their design.

DESIGN: Students drafted their designs, initially sketching their rough ideas, then building out the more detailed design using Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator software.

PRESENTATION: Each of the students presented their designs to their IOB peers and design mentors, discussing their inspiration and process.

SELECTION: A group of Radio Milwaukee employees had the difficult task of choosing the final design from the nine students, ranging from characterizations of iconic Milwaukee destinations, to cartoon self-portraits, to reimagined maps.

FINAL: Based on Garrett’s hand-sketched design, 88Nine provided critique and revisions to meet their production needs, and the final product was born.

One question posed during the exploratory phase was, how do you want your new members to feel when they get their shirt?

“I hope our members who contribute and receive this shirt feel like they made an impact, feel inspired by Garrett’s design and know that Radio Milwaukee is so very, very grateful for their support,” added Corry.

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