School of the Arts Wins AAF Best in Show

March 9, 2018

South Carolina School of the Arts AAF Awards Anderson University Best in Show

Shelby Argo believes an ounce of confident humility is worth a pound of public glory.

It’s a lesson taught by her professors at the South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University.

“They teach us to be confident in our work and not rely on praise from others for reassurance of our skills,” said Argo, a senior graphic design major at AU. “I think it’s such a valuable lesson, especially going into the professional world of design.”

The only problem? Argo – and her classmates in AU’s graphic design program – have received a lot of praise lately.

“All of that being said, having this one night to pause and reflect on years’ worth of work and growth with me peers was such a rare and consequential experience,” Argo said.

She was talking about the American Advertising Federation (AAF) and its Greenville Chapter’s annual gala, where she won Best in Show, part of an unprecedented 43 total awards garnered by graphic design students from the South Carolina School of the Arts.

“It was that last reminder before the real world that we can, in fact, do it,” Argo said. “That we’re capable. That we’re ready. Winning Best in Show, for me, made all of the failed projects, late-night problem-solving and endless vending machine meals have a purpose, aside from just being a college student. All of those moments were challenging me and pushing me to keep growing and reaching for more out of my design.”

Those moments are what Dr. Jo Carol Mitchell-Rogers lives for. She’s the Associate Dean of the South Carolina School of the Arts and chair of the Department of Art and Design.

“The work of our talented, hard-working students and of their dedicated faculty continues to bring honor to the School of the Arts, and I couldn't be more proud of them all,” she said.

All told, AU students won 17 gold, 25 silver and the Judges’ Choice Award, in addition to Argo’s Best in Show distinction at the Feb. 24 ceremony. More than 25 students were decorated for distinction in print, packaging and digital design.

Over the past decade, AU has established itself as the most highly decorated graphic design program in South Carolina, with students winning scores of awards for excellence in graphic design at the local, regional, state and national levels.

“The thing that makes Anderson University’s program so effective and successful is its focus on ideation over technical skill,” Argo said. “We’re taught how to think and push through the ‘already been done’ ideas in order to find new and unresolved solutions to the problems at hand. We can have an idea in our heads and may not know exactly how to make it happen visually, but we can figure that part out. It’s the idea that’s most valuable, and the part we are trained in discovering.”

The American Advertising Awards, formerly the ADDY, is the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition. Conducted annually by the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the local ad club phase is the first of a three-tier, national competition.