Design It combats struggling with retaining membership and club engagement

DesignIt officers find new ways to promote their club to face the problems posed by low member turnout


Anushka De, News Editor

When senior Grace Ryu first heard about Design It during her freshman year, her interest was immediately piqued. Already passionate about more traditional mediums of art such as drawing and painting, Ryu was intrigued by the digital aspects of graphic design. Three years later, as the president of the club, Ryu hopes to spread her love to prospective designers and illustrators through Design It, a club dedicated to teaching graphic design software, such as Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop, and providing members with a space to create digital artwork.

DesignIt // Used with permission
Design It aims to teach members how to use basic graphic design software and provide them with a creative space to explore graphic design

As Design It’s president, one of Ryu’s duties is to sign the club up for a spot at MVHS’s biannual Club Info Day, which occurred on Sept. 13 this year. However, despite responding to the email soon after it was sent out and well in advance of the deadline, Design It did not receive a spot at Club Info Day, which is what Ryu believes is the biggest cause behind the lack of member turnout this year.

Both Ryu and public relations officer and junior Sarah Tan attribute the club’s absence at the promotional event to the competition between clubs for each spot. According to Tan, Club Info Day often attracts the greatest amount of new members. Without having Club Info day as a recruiting opportunity, the club was forced to rely on morning announcements to promote itself.

Aside from the initial lack of publicity, Ryu explains that there are several other potential reasons for low member turnout this year. One such reason is due to new members’ misconceptions about graphic design in general. The club itself has very little knowledge of many new members’ ideas about graphic design, and as a result, are often unaware of how to address them. Additionally, Ryu has noticed over the past three years, member turnout decreases as the year goes on. As such, starting the year off with relatively fewer members only added to that problem.

Graphic design — when you first hear it, [it] sounds really cool. But then maybe once you’re in the club it’s not what you expected and then [you] just drop out.

— Grace Ryu

“One problem that we have is that we don’t exactly know what the members expect from the club,” Ryu said. “Graphic design — when you first hear it, [it] sounds really cool. But then maybe once you’re in the club it’s not what you expected and then [you] just drop out. I remember that’s what happened to a lot of people in the club in [my] freshman year. That’s a persistent problem.”

Junior and treasurer Kai Xiao explains that another potential reason for lower member retention is the limits that being a graphic design club poses in terms of the resources needed. Xiao explains that having computers in an absolute necessity, making it difficult for the club to meet due to the lack of availability of computers.

As a result of fewer opportunities for meetings, Xiao explains that it can be difficult for the officer team to teach members who have missed meetings and don’t know the basics while continuing to engage members that are already familiar with the software. Additionally, according to Tan, the inconsistency of scheduled meetings last year led to a smaller amount of returning members this year.

“We’re limited to having to use only the computer room, because we want [the members] to work while we teach, and so it’s sometimes difficult to have a consistent way of meeting,” Xiao said. “Sometimes members will miss out for one or two meetings and so they’ll miss the basics and we have to teach them while helping the members that come every week and build on their knowledge.”

However, rather than allowing the Design It’s struggles affect the club, the officer team is trying to promote the club in a multitude of ways. Ryu explains that the club is turning to social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram by changing their profile pictures and “mass following” students.

The club is also looking to expand by hosting workshops outside of school, according to Xiao. These workshops would aim to offer lessons to students who are unable to regularly attend lunch meetings. Xiao, Tan and Ryu are all hopeful that membership will increase as the year progresses, as a result of their promotional efforts. Tan also believes that with the second Club Info Day in February, the club will be granted a second opportunity to attract more new members.

The final promotional tactic being used by Design It is watermarking their designs. According to Tan, many of the smaller clubs on campus that do not have a separate designer often reach out to Design It for promotional materials for their respective clubs.

Design It // Used with permission
MV Design It designs a poster to promote MV Spirit Tryouts with their watermarked logo in the bottom right corner

“We’ve also been watermarking our designs that we make for other clubs, Ryu said. “Sometimes we get commissions and I remember last year we didn’t watermark them but this year we decided to do it.”

Through Design It, Tan, Xiao and Ryu have all discovered a love for graphic design that they believe is a creative outlet they would not have otherwise been exposed to. Ryu explains that she is putting effort into promoting the club because she aims to spread her passion for art and graphic design throughout school.

“I’m pretty passionate about art, so I just want to help [people] find passion for art because art is a really great thing,” Ryu said. “It’s very relaxing and you can be completely creatively expressive with it too. And I like to spread that sentiment to other people.”