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This feature is about Christopher Gerke, a Harrington Communication Design and Digital Photography Alum who’s passion and drive helped him create and now lead a non-profit organization called creative go-round.

Christopher Allan Gerke, born June 17, 1986 grew up in Worthington, Ohio a suburb just north of the capital city of Columbus. The summer after his junior year, Christopher attended the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana to be sure photography was the career path he wanted to take. Throughout his senior year, he interned for a local professional photographer and found freelance work doing senior portraits and photography for weddings and corporate events. Christopher also worked for one summer as an apprentice to a brick mason and another summer assisting a jeweler, learning skills and making friends with each endeavor.  

While in Montana, Christopher learned about Harrington College of Design from the RMSP staff. After visiting the college, Christopher chose Harrington for its attitude toward professionalism in a school environment, and their approach toward teaching like each project is for a client. He started at Harrington in 2005 with a major in Commercial Digital Photography. Christopher’s original plans were to start a large photo studio that enveloped all aspects of photography by bringing in multiple professionals, each having their own specialty. His favorite courses while at Harrington were  architectural photography and commercial photography. Sometime during his sophomore year, he developed an interest in communication design and enjoyed courses in branding and corporate identity, advertising, and design issues. 

A significant moment for Christopher came during his first course in the communication design program, The Design Process. In this class, he learned a process to dissect design into its important individual parts. This logical way of breaking up something so fluid and creative was a turning point regarding his outlook for his future.Of his instructors at Harrington, Christopher expresses admiration: “They are very skilled designers who are still working professionals that teach. This gives them a unique ability to tell students what is on the horizon and what the design market looks like right then. Without being a working designer, this information could not be shared.”

While at Harrington, Christopher served in student government from 2007-2010, the last two years as President.  He refers to this as the best part of his college experience: “My time as Student Government President gave me a unique look at the school as a whole and allowed me to participate across the board in many experiences dealing with competitions, town hall meetings, and even accreditation visits for Harrington. Being part of  the community was a very positive experience.” What did Christopher take away from that experience? He stated, “I did a lot of relationship building and securing of allies while in Student Government. I find that everything is possible with a good backing of friends and allies.” In May 2010, Christopher graduated from Harrington College of Design receiving a BFA in Communication Design and an Associate of Applied Science in Commercial Digital Photography.    

Christopher views design as a “behind the scenes way of changing the world.” What he likes about being part of the design world is that designers as a community are not recognized by the public, rather their work is recognized and appreciated.  Christopher admires the fact that designers as a whole do not feel it important that the average person knows their name. It is about the work.

During summer 2009, Christopher was one of a select group of students from across the country who were invited to attend Camp Firebelly. For ten days, ten students crafted a strategic design solution for a nonprofit. It was at this time that Christopher realized how much great value designers could bring to society and community. He stated, “Design is society. Without design, what would we be? Everything is design, and the good design is so good, you don’t even think of it as design. Nonprofit design is harder. Design on a tight budget can still be impactful and helpful and well designed.”  And that’s where creative go-round began to take shape in his mind.

This feature will continue tomorrow.

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