Kevin Tong Illustrator and Poster Designer Coming to BSC


Kevin Tong is a freelance illustrator living and working in Los Angeles. He is well known for his striking limited edition, screen-printed posters commissioned by major bands (The Black Keyes and Bon Ivers) and major movies such as Gravity, UP and Wall-E. Kevin will spend all day at Bismarck State College talking to art and graphic design classes during the day and will give an evening presentation discussing his work and creative/artistic process. The evening presentation is free and open to the public.

April 30, Wednesday, 7:30 at the Sidney J. Lee Auditorium

Posted on April 1st, 2014 by tom  |  No Comments »

Students’ outstanding work recognized at AdFed

The American Advertising Federation is the oldest advertising group in the United States. AdFed’s annual awards ceremony is like the Oscars of the design community. The awards are given regionally with Fargo being home base for the region North Dakota is part of.

Bismarck State College was well represented at the Addy Awards Feb. 28 bringing home five Addys including two gold award winners.

Silver awards went to Trey Bruce, Angela Lipp,  and Jacob Wetzel. Gold winners were Lindsey Hefta and the Sophomore Class of 2013 for Proof Magazine.

The students from the Graphic Design and Communications Club attended the awards banquet and did a great job representing BSC.

Of the 19 total awards given to students by AdFed, 12 went to students of two-year programs, both Bismarck State College and Minnesota State Community and Technical College. The remaining seven awards were divided between Minot State University, North Dakota State University and Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Posted on March 13th, 2014 by jason  |  1 Comment »

Have a drink

The sophomore Graphic Design and Communications students have been working hard to learn about studio lighting. The first projects involve inanimate objects - they don’t move and don’t complain.

The latest project is beverage photography. It’s tricky to make cold drinks look cold and hot ones look hot. It’s also difficult to plan and prepare for the shoot, but the students never stop surprising me.

Posted on February 20th, 2014 by jason  |  No Comments »

Welcome to Proof


The sophomore GDC students have broken the ice on the third issue of Proof Magazine. The magazine gives the students a chance to design and work on a complete publication. It brings together several skills into one project that the group works on throughout the semester.

Last week the students generated a concept, this week the goal was to create mood boards and flesh out the idea more. It’s a long road, but there are only 11 more class days (primarily Fridays) dedicated to creating the publication.

Posted on January 24th, 2014 by jason  |  No Comments »

Plates are done

The wet plates from the Friday tour and photo shoot are done and look amazing. Shane gave the finished plates to the two students that he photographed, wonderfully generous.

The plates are made of glass, the photo of them shows a little dust and reflection on the surface, but can’t mimic the amazing depth of the plates.


Posted on January 22nd, 2014 by jason  |  1 Comment »

Making plates with magic


Photography is categorized by some as art and others as science, mostly depending on the approach and the subject. Others look at it completely from a journalistic perspective, to tell a story.

Shane Balkowitsch’s photos, or plates, can’t be accurately called art or science, they must be called magic.

It sounds cliche and crazy, but 30 people from the Bismarck State College Graphic Design and Communications Department witnessed it, a few even saw it twice and were still amazed.

Balkowitsch wouldn’t categorize his work as magical, and he certainly doesn’t consider himself a photographer — that’s one of the first things he will tell you. He wears a bowler hat because it fits the era of his photographic process, a process called wet-plate photography.

In a time when shooting film seems old-school, Balkowitch’s wet-plate process is downright prehistoric. It was created around 1849 and used through the Civil War era until gelatin photos became common in the 1880s.

Wet-plate photography is hard. It’s expensive. It’s time consuming. And an even bigger challenge beyond any of that is that there isn’t anyone in the entire state who can help you if you have a problem. Balkowitsch skirted that issue by reading up on it, then going for it. No matter that most folks who try the process in the modern era are photographers with 30 years of experience and Balkowitsch hadn’t owned even a point-and-shoot camera before. His license plate frame could say, “My other camera is a wet-plate camera, too,” because he has two, although he does now occasionally use his iPhone to document his wet-plate photography.

The magic occurs when the model is situated and Balkowitsch prepares the plate to go into the camera. He coats the plate with collodion, gives it a dip in silver nitrate and then it’s ready to go into a camera. That’s the simplified version — there’s a lot of preparation that happens beforehand, as well as hours of trial and error, that makes the results look magical, not scientific.

After the plate is in the camera, the lens cap is removed and a count started. With the studio lights on, the cap is off for eight seconds and then put back on to block light from the plate. All lights are shut off except the red safe lights, and then the developing process starts. The plate goes through a developer where the image appears, into a wash, then a fix. The fix should include “alakazam” because the image disappears, then reappears mysteriously.

All of this is incredible, and then you consider that the entire process has to occur, from beginning to end, while the plate remains wet and you are awed.

Thank you, very much, to Shane Balkowitsch for sharing his time and his knowledge, not to mention his generosity with his materials.

Check out more of Balkowitsch’s work at his website:

Posted on January 17th, 2014 by jason  |  1 Comment »