GCU graphic designer’s work lauded in The New York Times
By Janie Magruder
GCU News Bureau
Jessica Foncannon’s portfolio, already bold and beautiful from five years of creating marketing materials for Grand Canyon University, has a new impressive entry. The graphic designer’s poster for “All My Sons,” an upcoming stage production of the College of Fine Arts and Production, was featured last week in The New York Times.
Foncannon’s dramatic black-and-white image of a bomber disintegrating was highlighted in an article, “Designing Arthur Miller: Simple Gestures, Big Ideas,” by Times journalist Erik Piepenburg. His piece previewed the opening of “A View from the Bridge,” by famed playwright Arthur Miller, in New York City’s Lyceum Theater.
Eight examples of “how designers are capturing the modest but powerful spirit of Miller’s plays with simplicity and brawn” were noted by Piepenburg, including Foncannon’s. GCU was the only university represented in his article.
“All My Sons,” which COFAP will open in Ethington Theatre on Feb. 12, was written by Miller in 1947. Based on the true story of a machine shop that produced defective airplane parts during World War II, which caused many war casualties, the play established Miller as a leading voice in the American theatre.
Foncannon, who creates all of the materials for COFAP’s theatre, dance and music departments, didn’t know much about Miller until she started working with Dean Claude Pensis on the imagery. Once she understood his vision for the production, she began researching and thinking about her design.
“One of the challenges, as with many design projects, is to attract attention, inspire the viewer and get down to the essential message,” said Foncannon, who was trained at the Art and Institute of Phoenix and has a master’s degree in leadership from GCU. “We wanted something simple, and by showing an image of a plane disintegrating, we were able to quickly communicate tension.”
During a phone interview, she said Piepenburg told her he was struck by how iconic her poster was and how it stood apart from the other pieces he saw.
He wrote: “Social responsibility fueled Jessica Foncannon’s design for this production of Miller’s drama. ‘It’s about right versus wrong,’ she said. That black-or-white approach comes through in high-contrast design that features a composite image of a B-17 bomber appearing to disintegrate. (The particles are actually details of a photo of snow tossed into the air.) The stencil-like font, with slightly unaligned tops and bottoms, adds to the military feel. ‘There’s a lot of chaos and dissent’ in the image, said Ms. Foncannon. ‘There are shows on Valentine’s Day weekend, so we wanted to let people know what they are in for.’
Foncannon, whose other COFAP pieces this year demonstrate the spectrum of her skills (think “As You Like It” by William Shakespeare to “Seussical,” based on the books by Dr. Seuss), credited her success to creative collaborations with project managers and other graphic designers in the Marketing Department.
Kristin Fisher, graphic design manager, said Foncannon works closely with COFAP and the marketing team to make the college’s vision for each Ethington Series a reality. “Her creativity and design have helped brand and market each theater season, giving the plays their own unique look and personality,” Fisher said.
Foncannon also produces materials for GCU’s Event Services, the Honors College, the Learning Lounge, Office of Alumni Relations and others.
Contact Janie Magruder at (602) 639-8018 or [email protected]
Here are Foncannon’s other posters from the 2015-16 Ethington Series: