unexpected choices


Right here in West Michigan, businesses trusted graphic designers to make new or complex products and ideas clear and engaging. Designers delivered fresh, distinctive, and innovative communications that informed and often amused. The Ferris State University Design Project Center has collaborated with the West Michigan Graphic Design Archives to produce this exhibit. Be inspired and delighted!

APRIL 11 – MAY 7, 2022
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Upjohn Scope Magazine, Vol IV, #8 Upjohn Scope Magazine, Vol IV, #11
As a pioneering pharmaceutical company, Upjohn needed to demonstrate its scientific knowledge and educate physicians and pharmacists. By working with researchers to deeply understand the content, designers could interpret for their audiences.
Upjohn Scope Magazine #10 Upjohn Packages of Life




Grand Rapids Opera Il Trovatore Grand Rapids Pagliacci
Grand Rapids Opera Carmen Grand Rapids Opera La Boheme
Grand Rapids Opera The Magic Flute
In a changing arts and entertainment environment, Opera Grand Rapids needed to build its brand in a way that reinforced its connection to aficionados while attracting new audiences. Visual storytelling was part of the solution.
Autocam 1992 Annual Report
Autocam 1995 Annual Report Autocam 1994 Annual Report


A maker of precision automotive, computer, and medical components, Autocam needed to convey to investors and customers their technical prowess and attention to detail. Compelling storytelling through typography and photography contributed to their success.
Herman Miller Thank You, Herman Miller Herman Miller Modular Sofa Group
Herman Miller Seating Advertisement Herman Miller See: The Potential of Place, 2

herman miller

The West Michigan-based furniture maker needed to convey its problem-solving designs to audiences from interior designers to bean counters, and everyone in between. It did so by making human-to-human connections.
Herman Miller Sweet Corn Picnic Poster
French Paper Jerry French Blow up Figure French Paper Mind Over Scatter Poster
A producer of premium papers, French Paper needed to differentiate themselves with graphic designers. They got attention and demonstrated how paper could contribute to the effectiveness of a communications piece.



French Paper Cream of Meat
French Paper Run of The Mill Club Convention Hat French Paper Queen Poster

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Gallery Hours

  • monday 9a–11a & 12p–6p
  • tuesday 11a–1:30p & 2p–6p
  • wednesday 9a–6p
  • thursday 1p–6p
  • friday 9a–5p
  • saturday 10a–2p

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Ferris State University
Fine Art Gallery

805 Campus Drive
Big Rapids, MI 49307

West Michigan Graphic Design Archives logo

This exhibit was made possible by a collaboration between the Ferris State University Design Project Center and the West Michigan Graphic Design Archives, housed at the Zhang Legacy Collections Center at Western Michigan University. The Archives makes both digital representations and physical artifacts available to design professionals, educators, students, business people, researchers, and others interested in the rich legacy of graphic design, paper manufacturing, and printing in West Michigan.

Visit the Archives

behind the


students standing in gallery

This exhibit was curated and designed by senior Ferris State University students: Mallory Jarrett, Mckinley Kreitner, Nathan Nye, Olivia Smith, and Ngan Tang, under the leadership of Design Program faculty members Alison Popp and Nicolas Mata.

students diagramming

Through this experience, the students learned about the ways design is important to business and how memorable and exciting it can be. The students are part of the Design Program in the College of Business.

Visit the Ferris Design Program

Brightformat, a Grand Rapids high-quality digital printing company, contributed expertise, services, and materials that made this exhibit possible. Their commitment to the West Michigan design community is evident through their support, demonstrating their belief that there is nothing more important than the success of their clients.

Brightformat logo