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Graphic design student Jose Martinez won a $400 prize for his (O[yes]) contest entry

 - Jose Martinez shows off his second-place award-winning poster that he created for the Oregon Young Employees Safety Coalition's contest.A Crook County High School graphic design student turned a Dr. Seuss-inspired poster on workplace safety and mental health into prize money and statewide recognition.

Jose Martinez, a student in Bryce Tiernan's winter trimester Graphic Design 2 class, joined seven other students in entering a contest organized by the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]). In its 14th year of putting a spotlight on the importance of young worker safety and health, the 2021-2022 competition challenged participants to create either a 30- to 90-second video or graphic design that inspires young workers to think twice about their personal health and safety in the workplace. Submissions had to include the tagline, "Work. It can be more dangerous than you think." They also had to highlight the theme of young worker mental well-being.

The Crook County students competed against teams of students from Parkrose, Pendleton, Grant, North Eugene and West Linn high schools. Contest organizers said that the teams of "students rose to the challenge," noting that in "crisply edited videos and bold graphic designs," they called attention to everything from the stress of a young worker's first day on the job and the value of a healthy work-life balance to the need to take breaks and to place a high priority on mental health.

Tiernan said that his Graphic Design 2 class focuses on typography and how, as designers, people can convey meaning through the way words look and not just what they say. In addition, the class works with local community organizations to assist them with design projects, providing students with real-world, professional, graphic design experiences.

"I decided to have my students participate in the contest because it was a great way for them to gain experience working on a graphic design project that had set guidelines and firm a deadline," Tiernan said. "The contest provided them with the additional opportunity to gain exposure beyond Prineville and Crook County High School and to receive recognition for their hard work."

Students could create a poster that was at least 5x5 inches. Outside of that, students were able to use any resources available to them to create their poster. Tiernan said students in his class had access to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of applications to create their posters. Most students chose Adobe Illustrator to make their posters.

The second-place graphic design finish won Martinez a $400 cash prize.

"I was genuinely surprised," he said.

Martinez said he initially wanted his project to look like the book cover of Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax." Tiernan admits that he was skeptical about how Jose was going to combine mental health awareness and Dr. Seuss, but he nevertheless told him to run with the idea.

"When Jose presented his final concept to me, I was gobsmacked," Tiernan gushed. "In my 10 years as a professional graphic designer, Jose's poster is one of the most witty and ingenious posters I have seen…I could not be more impressed and prouder of the work that Jose did for the O[yes] poster contest."

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