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KUCD’s Pop-Up Market, The Rais

In college, design students constantly make things that are the product of their own creative vision. Once they enter the field, their focus becomes completely client driven and far less imaginative. I worked with a small group of graphic design students to start a pop-up market called “The Rais.” In Pennsylvania Dutch, this means “the journey.” The idea is to teach young designers at the start of their journey that they should be making things that will satisfy their own creative aspirations and allow them to develop techniques and skills. They learn that there is an appreciation for highly original and creative work, and there are people who will pay for the beautiful things they make.

Most of the work in The Rais is hand made by students: screen printed t-shirts, tote bags, hand made buttons, letter-pressed sketchbooks, coasters and one-off objects. Posters, postcards, and greeting cards are printed in our service bureau. Not only do the students design and produce the beautiful work that we sell, they also source the materials, create a budget for the finished pieces, price the work and man the shop. The shop itself was designed and branded by students. It pops up at important department events, preview days, and before holidays in several locations across campus. We hope to start an online store. The students have learned surprising lessons about marketing, branding, pricing and managing money that they would not have learned in the classroom. The pride and satisfaction that they take away from the experience makes The Rais the beginning of a life-long journey of making, learning and creative fulfillment.

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