Every time students or alumni open their copies of “Imprimis” or “Hillsdale” magazine, External Affairs grabs both their attention and their mind’s eye.
This April, Arthur Donley took over the position of Art Director for External Affairs, the office that controls publications sent out from Hillsdale College. Focusing on the design and layout for literature published, Donley brings fresh eyes and creativity to the department and to campus as a whole.
“Anything that is outward facing to the public, External Affairs has the final say,” Donley said. “We want to be concerned that the message that is being presented is the same message.”
His arrival to Hillsdale College was due to the influence of John Miller, professor and director of the Dow Journalism Program.
“I was reading ‘National Review’ online,” Donley said. “John Miller writes blogs and quotes in the corner and I just happened to see that there was the shortest little thing that said, ‘Hillsdale needs an art director.’ That is all he wrote and that’s why I’m here.”
Elena Creed ’18 has been working in External Affairs as a photographer for the past two years. In May, she started working directly with Donley.
“He is really great,” Creed said. “He is very upbeat and very excited and passionate about his work, but he’s also super helpful. He is more than willing to set aside his own work and explain things to me and show me what to do.”
Donley’s artistic career took off while he was in college at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. Originally signed up by part of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, he enrolled in an anatomy drawing class, where an art instructor noticed his natural talent, recommending him to the art program. He left ROTC and started in the commercial arts, what is now graphic design. Donley graduated from Northwest Missouri State with a BFA with emphasis on graphic design.
His arrival to Hillsdale comes with a wealth of experience and breadth of exposure.
“I have been an art director before,” Donley said. “I was an art director at an agency in Mansfield for 11 years prior to this.”
But that isn’t to say that this new job is easy.
“The difference is, here there is only one person,” Donley said. “There, we had four or five art directors, six production artists, three retouchers. So in terms of that, there’s more like we do everything here and that’s why we have student workers.”
After doing some design work for Career Services, Jared Eckert ’17 got involved with art in External Affairs.
“Its funny — I have never taken a graphic design course, but I like it as a technical skill,” Eckert said. “As a philosophy major, I kinda need a technical skill to some degree. I need something to be a little bit more practically grounded. This job gives me the opportunity to pursue that if I want.”
The job has given him an outlet for his creativity as well as experiences like Eckert’s summer project, while working alongside Donley, that was featured at the beginning of the school year: “The Mentor,” which is a compilation of campus activities for freshmen and new students to get informed and involved in activities on campus.
“I really love his approach in that he understands what it takes to have that institutional look of Hillsdale, and how to capture that and stay within the guidelines,” Eckert said. “But he also likes to have some fun. He doesn’t mind being creative and he understands that to be appealing, you have to warrant creative aspects even to things that might appear boring.”
Moving forward in creativity and design, Donley will continue working alongside the mission and look of Hillsdale College.
“I don’t really know if anything will change,” Donley said. “But each thing that I get involved with, that I touch, I am hoping to make the design of it better. That is the goal I made for myself.”
Future projects may include a more-user friendly campus map, tying in the geography of campus as well as Donley’s creative touch.
“The idea that being conservative doesn’t mean that you have to be boring,” Donley said. “You can do some really cool stuff.”