This spring, as so much of what we knew was crumbling, something beautiful was taking root: our partnership with graphic design student Jessica Pace. In a little under a year, Jessica has taken on several major design and illustration projects at 826michigan, accomplishing each one with remarkable creativity, generosity, and talent. Jessica’s distinctive style, collaboration skills, and kindness have infused our projects with joy and depth, and we’re so thankful for her amazing contributions to 826michigan!
Jessica was referred to us by her Washtenaw Community College instructor, Ingrid Ankerson, who has done graphic design projects for us over the years. Jessica jumped right into her volunteer design work. Her first project was creating an online chapbook of Wee-Bots students’ writing, entitled “There Was an Elephant in the Bookshelf.” Not only did Jessica show her technical mastery of graphic design in this chapbook, but she also created original illustrations to bring students’ work to life.
As soon as she completed the chapbook, Jessica was eager and excited to dive into a new project. She created a digital publication template for “If I Were You,” an 826michigan virtual field trip where students write advice columns to other students. Not only did Jessica create a crisp, functional, and cheerful layout for student work, but she also contributed illustrations, composed a wordplay-rich suggestion page of how to give good advice, and devised an overarching theme — squids, of course! — to connect a wide range of students’ ideas.
Lately, Jessica’s been finishing up a specialized combined logo sticker and activity booklet for a partnership between Black Men Read and 826michigan. We’ll be distributing this workbook, along with other writing materials, in our Read & Write Now Kits to 250 area students in March in honor of National Reading Month.
For each project, Jessica has amazed us with her clear communication skills, her receptivity to feedback, and her ability to take our basic, often unpolished framework for a vision and create something that’s both artistic and accessible to readers. She always exceeds our wildest expectations, creating content that is even more fun, visually appealing, and rich in depth than we could have imagined. Not only does Jessica create incredible products, but she’s also a dream to work with. She is kind, generous, skilled, and humble. Even though her life is certainly full — on top of coursework at WCC, she’s also overseeing virtual learning for her two children — she shows incredible attention to detail to each project.
This spring, Jessica will be creating yard signs and postcards featuring 826michigan student writing as a part of her student portfolio. We’re excited about this project for many reasons, but one of them is that we can all have a chance to own and showcase Jessica’s gorgeous work! Jessica, thank you so much for the generous gift of your time and skills to 826michigan. You’ve added so much beauty to the world of 826michigan!