BY MELISSA BREAZEALE
Teresa Contreras struck gold and three other USC Upstate students collected silver in the American Advertising Awards (AAF) Saturday night.
Contreras won a Gold Addy and Best in Show for her senior show project Uelik Mexican Café in the Integrated Brand Identity Campaign. Her work will be moving to the second level of the competition, which will be the district competition. If Contreras’ work places in the district competition, then it may move on to the national competition.
The Silver winners may opt to be forwarded to the district competition if they choose to do so by paying a fee. They are:
• Colton Mortiz for Silly Yak Gluten Free Beer for the Sales & Marketing Packaging category.
• Robert Ethan Mabbitt for Lowland Peak Outdoor School for the Integrated Brand Identity Campaign category.
• Sarah Harris for Artsy Adventures Travel Gift Box for Sales & Marketing Packaging category.
Contreras said she worked on the project one semester and often didn’t sleep but 3-5 hours a night often going to bed at 4 a.m. “I wanted to come up with something unique, something that had not been seen before in past senior shows,” Contreras said. “And I thought if I’m going to work on this project for four months, I want to work on something that I can put my heart into and that represents me.”
Contreras said a Mexican Coffee Shop was her idea. “Coffee and Mexican pastry play an important role in Mexican culture. I wanted to show a different side of Mexican gastronomy and culture. Mexican gastronomy is not enclosed in only tacos and burritos, it’s more than that. It is very extensive just like its culture.”
Coffee shops are everywhere in Mexico, you can find about seven on one street and they are used as a platform to socialize, Contreras said. “I grew up going to coffee shops with family and friends, so I have great memories going to them.”
The hardest part was, “Finding the right pattern, colors, measurements, sizes, and materials … because everything needed to be unified and work with what I wanted to transmit,” Contreras said.
“From the judging process, what really sets (Contreras) apart from all the other entries was definitely having a more front-facing entry for a campaign,” said JC Tolentino, the Awards co-chair, who took part in the judging process but was not an actual judge. “Of course, this wasn’t the only criteria that won her the award, but it definitely played a big role in becoming this year’s student Best of Show.”
“The judging process is not only based on the concept and design of the work, but being able to present your work in a way that will grab the judges’ attention is another key component in the competition. Each piece from her work was presented well with a simple concept in mind, paired with a cohesive design,” Tolentino said.
Contreras said she was in shock when she heard she had won Gold and Best in Show.”
“It was very overwhelming. It took me a few seconds to realize they had called my name. After I won the Addy Gold award, my family and I were ready to leave, but a young lady who was part of the AAF stopped us and told us to not leave because I had won another award,” Contreras said. “It never crossed my mind that it was the Best of Show. It was definitely a night I will never forget.”
Contreras said her representing Upstate was rewarding. “I also felt very proud to represent my university. And now I feel the great responsibility to improve my technique. I still have a lot to learn, and I hope to improve my concepts and visions.”
Contreras hopes her recognition earns her a goal to “work along graphic designer, Stefan Sagmeister. He’s one of my biggest influencers and one of the most innovative postmodern graphic designers of our time.”