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Skidmore College

Artwork by recent graduate featured by renowned jazz festival

June 23, 2021
by Martha O’Leary and Julia Marco

For the second year in a row, a Skidmore College student’s artwork is decorating the walls of coffee shops, museums, offices and hotels in Saratoga Springs, New York, and even the clothing of local residents and tourists, to promote one of the premier summer music events in the Northeast.

Through a partnership between Skidmore and Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), recent graduate Maddy Tyler ’21 is the artist behind the official artwork for the 44th annual Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival at SPAC.

She and 12 other students began the design process back in February when, as part of Associate Professor Deborah Hall’s course on communications and design, they met virtually with SPAC leadership to understand the vision and branding for the 2021 festival. Then, they each got to work translating their “client’s” desires into marketable designs that would be presented as options for SPAC’s consideration.

Tyler, a student who blended arts and sciences during her time at Skidmore, says the whole experience was a perfect fit for her. “As a computer science major, creative projects like this got me super excited about a career that combines both technology and design. I really enjoyed the collaborative process, working with SPAC and incorporating their feedback into my design. It was also something fun to look forward to and focus on during the pandemic.”

Maddy Tyler '21

Maddy Tyler, a 2021 Skidmore graduate, studied computer science, studio art and media and film at the College.

The SPAC team, which included Leslie Coleman-Smith, general manager, and Chris Shiley, senior director of artistic planning, reported being “blown away” by the student submissions and overwhelmed by the thought of having to choose only one from the robust selection. Tyler’s design ultimately won them over.  

The elaborate design has been circulating for several months on Jazz Fest merchandise and promotional materials. Its full unveiling will be at the festival, Saturday, June 26, and Sunday, June 27, where fans will be able to purchase collectable T-shirts and posters. T-shirts can also be purchased online through the Skidmore Shop.  

jazzfest 2021 design

Skidmore and SPAC have a long, collaborative history that has often taken the form of co-sponsorships and promotions of economically and culturally impactful arts programming for the Saratoga Springs region. The Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival purposely coincides with the beginning of Skidmore’s Jazz Institute, a Skidmore summer program that helps burgeoning musicians perfect their skills. This year, Skidmore’s Jazz Institute workshops will be offered virtually from June 27 through July 9. Guest artists will also perform for limited audiences at SPAC and Caffè Lena.

Over the years, partnerships between Skidmore and SPAC have also included academic collaborations, such as past work with the Skidmore Student Consulting Partnership (a capstone management and business course), joint concerts, countless internships and, of course, thousands of Skidmore graduates who will never forget walking across the SPAC stage during Commencement.

Above all, collaborations of this kind help create opportunities for students like Tyler, who is taking her recently earned diploma and SPAC accolades to New York City as she begins her career as a designer and web developer.

For more information about the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, visit the event webpage.

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