Will Burkart often uses Snapchat, the wildly popular photo-sharing app, to send pictures to his friends.
But he realized that he wasn’t able to add a filter to his photos to show he was in Holly Springs, while other friends could superimpose the words “Cary” or “Apex” on their pictures.
So, the 17-year-old Middle Creek senior decided to design one, and Snapchat liked what he did.
Snapchat allows users to edit photos to share with friends by adding text, emojis or filters. For example, users can take photos, also known as Snaps, and add what is known as a Geofilter to their pictures, which overlays an image on the photo based on the user’s location.
Burkart began working on the design – the words Holly Springs in 3-dimensional red and white lettering – about two months ago. It took him about an hour and a half to design it.
Snapchat has a list of guidelines artists and designers must meet for their artwork to be approved and used on the app. The graphic must be 100 percent original, visually compelling and doesn’t cover up too much of the screen. When he was satisfied with his design, Burkart submitted his work to Snapchat for approval.
It was approved three weeks later, allowing those who take pictures in Holly Springs to add the name of their town to their photos to mark their location.
“When you’re in the area of Holly Springs, and you take a picture on Snapchat, when you swipe left or right, one of those images on the screen should say ‘Holly Springs,’ ” Burkart said.
A taste of design
Burkart first got involved in graphic design as a high school freshman, when he found out Middle Creek High School had a Digital Media Academy.
Three years later, Burkart is heavily involved in SkillsUSA, where he has participated in design competitions, and the Sports Block, an after-school program where students broadcast Middle Creek sports live over the Internet. He also has interned at Chicago advertising firm StudioV, where he designed the logo for a Greek restaurant called Yanni’s Tavern.
“He likes the retro stuff, but he likes to put a fresh twist on it,” said Luis Maldonado, a digital media teacher at Middle Creek.
Through SkillsUSA, a national organization that promotes leadership and workforce development, Burkart won the T-shirt logo competition for Middle Creek High School’s SkillsUSA chapter for his design using the school’s mascot – a mustang. The same shirt won second place at the state level.
“You could see the pride in his eyes when everybody (from our school) showed up and wore that shirt when we went to the state competition,” Maldonado said.
He also designed the cover for last year’s Middle Creek High yearbook, using a similar design.
“I wish I had a classroom full of Will Burkarts,” Maldonado said. “He’s the type of kid (where) there’s almost not enough hours in a day for him to be creative. He’s constantly trying to go on to the next thing. He’s definitely a kid that wants to learn and wants to do well. ”
Starting from scratch
When designing, Burkart said he uses online references as inspiration before he starts sketching. Once he gets his idea on paper, it usually takes several drafts before he starts recreating the design on his computer.
“I like making something that there’s no way it could be real, but you’re seeing it right there,” he said.
But some of his more challenging projects have been using Photoshop to edit some pictures for the school’s yearbook. Last year, he said, several seniors showed up for the group photos of sports teams and clubs that they didn’t belong to as a senior prank.
It was up to the yearbook staff, including Burkart, to erase the students from the pictures before the yearbook went to print.
Now in his last year at Middle Creek, Burkart is looking toward pursuing design after college at either the University of South Carolina or Savannah College of Art and Design. While his favorite projects have been logo design, he is still unsure if that’s the path he wants to pursue.
“Graphic design is so broad,” he said. “I’m still trying to narrow that down.”
“I think he’s got a bright, bright future wherever he decides to go in the field of graphics,” said Wes Petty, a digital media teacher at Middle Creek. “The sky’s the limit in terms of his skill level.”
Kathryn Trogdon; 919-460-2608; @KTrogdon